Twitter uses a hash mark (#) system to identify hot topics. Depending on your settings, you can follow a selected topic as it becomes more popular. A subject, term, or even a business-related topic is said to be “trending.” Trending topics also become popular either due to a single event that triggers people to discuss a certain topic or because of sustained interest in the topic over a long period of time. In either case, the topic is what is called “tweetable.”
Some people wonder how they should use Twitter to identify trending topics because there doesn’t seem to be any way for them to tell when something is already “tweeted.” This is a concern because while you can generally tell when someone has been online for a while by the way they talk about things, there is no way of telling when something is going to be popular on Twitter long-term. For instance, I would not be concerned about a political candidate’s campaign being “tweeting” by his supporters because I don’t know that they will maintain the interest over the long-term. But let’s say that your favorite band was just starting out and they started to tweet about their upcoming album – would that be newsworthy?
The fact is, it most certainly would be newsworthy. But if you’re part of a brand or organization that has a vested interest in a trend, it could lead to unneeded communication diversification efforts. For instance, many brands will start to actively discuss and predict upcoming trends in various industries so that their own conversations and perception of that industry will be aligned with their customers’ wants and needs. This trend, which is known as conversational marketing, has been practiced by many brands and has provided them with a new arsenal to market to their core consumer base while expanding their reach.
Of course, with social media taking up such a large portion of our daily lives, trends are inevitable. But trending is also often good for brands because it helps them to position themselves as experts in their own industry. When you have an opinion that you are passionate about, you can be sure that people are going to take notice and consider you as an expert in your field. The same holds true when it comes to trending and communicating with consumers.
The challenge that brands face in communicating with their audience is that trending topics are often overlooked and taken for granted by so many individuals. In order for a trend to really become a trend, it must be regularly discussed and mentioned in various mediums. Brands need to find a balance between being visible but also speaking to their target audience in a language that they recognize. Brands that don’t speak trending topics but are active users will only be considered part of the crowd and will never really rise above the crowd. On the other hand, brands that are active users but fail to communicate with their customers will find themselves struggling to maintain visibility and relevance in a sea of competitors.
To rise above the rest, brands need to start engaging with their customers in a way that helps them connect to the product and make them feel confident in its use. By connecting with customers on the ground level, a brand becomes human and valuable. Trends are tricky beasts. As small business owners, we need to do all we can to make sure that our conversations are trending topics, but we also need to remember to stay connected with our customers on the digital platform.