Social media platforms use algorithms to track popular topics, hashtags and keywords. When these reach a certain threshold of activity, they are labeled “trending” and appear prominently on the platform’s homepage (think TikTok’s FYP). This gives trending topics a major visibility boost, drawing the attention of a wide audience. Often, these trends are memes or videos that have a particular humorous or emotional element that appeal to the masses.

Some popular trends have even gone on to become viral. One such example is the Mannequin Challenge, which started in 2016 and involved people freezing in place while music played around them. Others have seen participants perform physical feats, such as unscrewing a bottle cap with their feet. In many cases, these trends spread quickly because they are easy to replicate, offer a unique spin on an existing phenomenon or have influential individuals participating in them.

Trending is an invaluable tool for anyone in the business of identifying the public’s interests. It helps marketers create content that is relevant, reaches a wide audience and grabs the attention of consumers. It can also be used by journalists as a source of information about what people are talking about, searching for and sharing online.

However, trends are not a perfect indicator of what’s actually going on in the world. For instance, Google’s Trends is based on searches conducted through its search engine, which can sometimes skew results with certain keywords or phrasing. Additionally, some searches are repeated over time, which can lead to a false positive. Trends are also tailored to each user, so someone in Mauritius or Bangladesh might not be interested in what’s trending in the US.

Despite these limitations, it is possible to find some valuable insights from trends. It’s just necessary to understand how the algorithm works and what makes a topic or hashtag rise to popularity before using it in your marketing campaigns.

Trends are determined by analyzing the relative increase in interest in a specific keyword or topic, taking into account time and location. This allows you to see what’s being talked about in the real world, rather than a biased snapshot of the global conversation based on data from your own personal search history or those of your friends.

You can also narrow your search by adding additional keywords or filtering by country, gender and age. You can even set a date range to better focus on a particular topic or event.

On Twitter, trends are displayed on several areas of the website and can be customized based on your location. You can also access trending on Google by selecting Web, Image, News or Shopping.

Regardless of which trending features you use, it’s important to be respectful of the audience and subject matter at hand. Insensitive social media posts can quickly go viral, and they may not have the impact you intended. Similarly, trending discussions about tragedies should be approached with care. While it can be helpful to raise awareness about a cause, too much branding in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy can shift the tone from compassionate to disrespectful.