Trends are a type of social media phenomenon that capture people’s attention for short periods of time. They can be anything from discussion topics, memes and challenges to viral videos or short-form video content. Trends are ephemeral in nature and can quickly disappear as new trends emerge. However, they are a powerful tool for marketers to capitalise on and can be used to generate interest in products or services.

How does something become a trend? Trends are determined by algorithms that analyze social media activity to identify popular topics and keywords. Once a topic reaches a certain threshold of engagement, it is labeled as “trending” and prominently displayed on the platform’s homepage (e.g., Twitter’s FYP). Trending topics are not mutually exclusive and can include hashtags, keywords, or topics.

In order for a hashtag to become a trend, it must have sufficient volume relative to the average daily activity. It must also be relevant to a large number of Twitter users and have significant reach outside of a small group of early adopters. Twitter’s algorithms also tend to favour spikes over gradual growth. As such, hashtags that are common and regularly tweeted might never become a trend whereas a trend around a major event can rapidly become visible to all Twitter users.

Interestingly, trends are driven by both individuals and brands. People with a large following are more likely to start a trend as well as leverage their influence to drive one. Brands can also drive trends by creating an experience that is both meaningful and stickier than their competitors. An example of this is Fenty Beauty, which combined a great idea (a beauty product that celebrates diversity) with an influencer with clout to create a trend.

It is important to understand that trends aren’t set by the masses but are rather a reflection of their psychology. As such, it is important for marketers to understand the motivations of their target audience and produce trends that resonate with them.

The term ‘trend’ is often misused in social media and can confuse the reader. Trend, tend, tenor, and current all mean movement in a particular direction but the former two are synonymous with an inclination or impulsion and the latter refers to a consistent course of action.

To make a true impact on your audience, you must create and promote trends that are aligned with your core values. This will help you connect with your audience on a more authentic level and will ensure that your campaigns are effective and successful. For instance, if you are an outdoor apparel brand, it wouldn’t make sense to create a trend about the latest fashion fad. It would be much more effective to create a campaign that focuses on environmental issues and sustainability. This will be much more relatable to your audience and will have a greater impact on their lives. This will also help you create a lasting impression on your audience and will increase your chances of generating a long-term positive effect.