Trending is a way that social media platforms highlight the topics that are popular among users at a given moment. These trends can be based on location, who a user follows, or the content that they like. Trends are often used as a marketing tool to encourage engagement and increase visibility for brands, influencers, or anyone else with a large following on social media. Trending is also a key component of many SEO strategies.

Trends come and go, but the ones that last do so because they resonate with a critical mass of consumers. Whether it’s a fashion or lifestyle fad that sweeps the globe, or an architectural style that catches on during a specific time period such as Art Deco in the roaring twenties, trends tend to capture the public imagination for a while before they die out. The reason is that trends tend to be rooted in deeper societal and cultural forces and establish themselves firmly as part of a cyclical process.

In contrast, viral or fad-like trends are characterized by their rapid spread from person to person, with no underlying force behind them that makes them stay. These trends can include memes, viral videos, catchphrases, or any other topic that goes from being a personal obsession to a worldwide phenomenon in a short amount of time.

When it comes to social media, trends are typically highlighted by Twitter and Facebook’s “trending” sections. These lists are compiled in real-time, and show the most talked-about topics at a particular moment. Users can click on a topic to find out more about it. These lists can be a great way to stay on top of news stories, as well as keep up with what’s popular in a specific geographic area.

The factors that make a topic or hashtag trend are constantly changing, as social media algorithms update to take into account new types of data. For example, the algorithms that determine what’s trending on Twitter prioritize sharp spikes in traffic over gradual growth. This means that a hashtag or topic could become trending simply because it got noticed by more people in one day than it had been in the past 30 days.

As these trends evolve, it becomes more important than ever for marketers to understand how to identify them and make the most of them. For one, it is essential to know your audience so that you can craft content that is relevant to them and that will stand out from the competition. You can use available tools to evaluate trending topics and see how your competitors are approaching them, but you should always try to be original and offer a unique viewpoint.

It is also crucial to approach trending topics with care. For example, if you want to post something about a tragedy, you should be careful not to overdo it with branding or overstate your connection to the event. As AdWeek points out, this can quickly move a post from showing empathy and concern for human beings to being insensitive or even offensive.