Trending is the term for a topic, hashtag, or keyword on a social media platform like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok that is receiving more impressions, interactions, and mentions than usual. It’s a result of algorithms used by the platforms to identify what is getting talked about most at a particular time. Trending topics are often a reflection of current news events, cultural and other happenings, holiday or special occasions, viral content, or even online campaigns and challenges.

In terms of a business, trends can be useful for finding new opportunities or discovering what consumers are most interested in at a given moment. Trends can also be a useful tool in helping marketers determine what types of content to create and share with their audience. The word trend means “to move or develop in a particular direction.” The term is most commonly used in the context of fashion, entertainment, and culture, but can also apply to the stock market (when prices are rising or falling), weather patterns, politics, and economic indicators.

Creating a trend is all about being in the right place at the right time, or at least that’s what the theory goes. Trends can be based on any topic at all, from the latest fashion tote bag to the Oscars, but it’s more about how much interest there is in the item or event at a specific point in time. If you’re lucky enough to jump on a trend, it’s important to keep in mind that it may not last long and that there will be a new one to take its place.

What makes a hashtag trend?

Hashtags are more likely to become trending when they are unique, and when there is a sudden and concentrated spike in activity around them. A sudden spike could be the result of a special event or occasion, a natural disaster, a death of someone famous, or an online campaign that is gaining traction. If a hashtag you’re hoping to get to trend has already started, try to add more context or a call-to-action to help increase its chances of being seen by a larger number of people.

Twitter’s algorithms that determine what is trending tend to favor sharp spikes in popularity over any gradual sustained growth, data scientist Gilad Lotan explains. That’s why it can sometimes take more than 30 days for a topic to become trending after gaining momentum.

You can find trending topics on the Discover or Trending pages of each social media platform, or in the Explore tab on mobile apps. On Twitter, you can choose your location to see the trends that are most relevant to you, or select a different category from the options including Top Charts, World, Science and Technology, Sports, Entertainment, and Politics. The categories are also separated by country on the website.