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What it means to Trend on Twitter

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Introduction

The most popular topics on Twitter are known as Twitter trends.

Trends are determined by an algorithm and, by default, are tailored for you based on who you follow, your interests, and your location. This algorithm identifies topics that are popular now, rather than topics that have been popular for a while or on a daily basis, so that you are accessing the hottest emerging topics of discussion on Twitter.

It should be noted that the algorithm looks at a number of factors when ranking and determine trends, and the number of Tweets relating to a subject is just one of them.

You can choose to see trends that are not tailored for you by selecting a specific trends’ location on twitter.com, iOS, or Android. Location trends identify popular topics among people in a specific geographic location.

The use of hashtags

Trends which have a hashtag (#) before a word or phrase are marked as relating to a topic, so that people can follow the conversation when searching.

Rules for trends

Twitter has certain rules for what constitute suitable topics and, therefore, may, from time to time, actively prevent certain topics from trending. Such restrictions include trends that:

  • Contain profanity or adult/graphic references.
  • Incite hate on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease.
  • Violate the Twitter’s rules.

Twitter also state that they may also consider the newsworthiness of content, or if it is in the public interest when evaluating potential violations. In these cases, the content might continue to trend on their platform.

Nevertheless, even if Twitter has prevented the hashtag or content from appearing on the list of trending topics, you may still be able to access conversations around that content on Twitter.

Accessing a trend

When you click or tap on a trend, you will be taken to the Twitter search results for that trend. You will see all Tweets including that phrase or hashtag. To see what people are saying about a previous trend, perform a search for that keyword.

How to participate in a trend

To participate in a trend, you simply need to post a Tweet including the exact word or phrase as it appears in the trends list (with the hashtag, if you see one). Due to the large number of people Tweeting about these specific trends, you may not always be able to find your particular Tweet in search, but your followers will always see your Tweets.

There are instances when Twitter will cause your Tweets to be filtered out in the event that you breach one of their rules and restrictions. Examples of behaviour which could see your tweets deleted or hidden include:

  • Repeatedly posting duplicate or near-duplicating content
  • Abusing trending topics or hashtags;
  • Sending automated Tweets or replies;
  • Using bots or similar applications to post similar messages based on keywords;
  • Posting similar messages over multiple accounts; and aggressively following and unfollowing people.

Know The Rules

The use of descriptions

Below some trends, you may see the approximate number of Tweets associated with the trend, or personalised context, such as who in your network is Tweeting about it.

Additionally, when a Moment is found to be relevant to a trend, Twitter may use the title of the Moment as the trend’s description.

Do trends include world and local events?

When a user is signed into their account on  twitter.com, iOS, or Android, trends will be tailored for them based on their location and who they follow. There will also be many world and local news events and conversations that will appear in their trends, regardless of their personalisation.

Trends for a certain location

Trends for a specific location can be viewed on twitter.com, iOS and Android, although if users do not find their preferred country, city or area, it means that Twitter have not received enough Tweets from that geographical location to create a list.

Promoted Trends

Promoted trends are sponsored by Twitter’s advertising partners. They appear at the top of the Trending Topics list on Twitter and are clearly marked as “Promoted.” They can also show within users’ timelines.

Promoted Trends display at either the top or second to top slots of the “Trends for you” section in your home timeline and Explore tab.

Users who click on a Promoted Trend see Twitter search results for that topic, with a related Promoted Tweet from the advertiser at the top. Tweets on the search results page for Promoted Trends are unfiltered, open, and authentic. (Promoted Tweets which violate Twitter’s spam and abuse policy are filtered out in the usual way).

A promoted trend acts in the same way to any other trending topic, and users are able to interact and engage in the same way. The only difference is that a Promoted Trend is purchased by an advertiser and clearly marked as being promoted.

What makes a topic Trend on Twitter?

There are two elements as to what makes a “trend” on Twitter: the number of people tweeting at any one time about the same topic, and the time of day.

Statistics suggest the following metrics:

  • Between 12 (midnight) to 6am: approximately 1200 tweets and about 500 users to be considered a Trend
  • Between 6am to 12pm: 1700 tweets and about 733 users
  • Between 12pm to 6 pm: 1500 tweets and about 812 users
  • Between 6pm to 12am: 1900 tweets and about 922 users

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Conclusion

A trend on Twitter refers to a hashtag-driven topic that is immediately popular at a particular time. It presents activity based on real-time hashtag use and not topics that have been popular for a while.