Twitter is known for its ever-changing trending topics. These topics can be as popular as gossip and current affairs, or tailored in person to an individual level that reflects interests, industry, and the brand of your own account.
In recent years, Twitter has continued to refine the way trending topics work by adding different levels of context to how they appear on desktop and mobile devices.
Understanding how trending Twitter topics work can provide you with a deeper insight into what your audience is looking for and help shape your brand’s Twitter strategy. Let’s examine how trending topics work, how they are personalized, and how you can use them in your social media marketing campaigns.
How Twitter trending topics work
Trending topics on Twitter are determined by the platform’s algorithm. They can be tailored to the people you interact with, your interests, and your location. Depending on the view you choose, you can either see what’s popular on a broader scale or what’s trending in your specific stakeholders.
For example, if most of the people you follow are in the social media niche, you are more likely to see personalized trends related to social media. The algorithm also prioritizes fresh content. So you’re more likely to see topics people are talking about right now than older trends.
If you’re using the Twitter mobile app, these topics can be found in the For You and Trending section of the Browse tab. When you use Twitter on desktop, your trends will appear in a number of places including the What’s Happening sidebar, which can be expanded into an exploration page with a wider variety of tabs and subtopics.
How to find trending topics on Twitter
To get the most out of Twitter trends, you need to make sure that the trends that are displayed are specific to your brand. Fortunately, there are several ways you can let Twitter know what interests you most.
Personalize your trending page
For the best Twitter experience, you need to personalize your trending preferences. Twitter now allows you to personalize the trending topics displayed based on a few factors. You can set geographic settings so that you only see location-based trends based on your current location. In this setting you can also choose a specific region whose trends you want to see.
To make these personalizations, navigate to your trending page by clicking “Show More” on the right side of your Twitter desktop site. On the Twitter mobile app, navigate to your Explore page and click the gear icon next to the search bar at the top. These pages allow you to adjust your settings to reflect the kind of trends you would like to see in your feed.
In order for Twitter to accurately show you trends that you are interested in, you also need to give it data to work with. This means following accounts, interacting with posts about your niche, industry, or interest, and being active enough on the platform to discover more of your interests.
Look for keywords or hashtags in your industry
The Trends page shows you popular Twitter hashtags and topics based on your interests. However, you can’t always predict what you might want to see. If you want to drill down on a less frequently discussed topic or hashtag, it’s a good idea to find out the key terms to look for in connection with those conversations.
With Twitter’s native search function, you can search for hashtags, trending topics, or just general terms. This feature lets you search for your brand’s name to see if people are talking about it, or hashtags like industry chats or campaign hashtags to find out what people are saying and how to incorporate it into their posts.
Using Sprout Social you can streamline the process by creating filters to keep track of keywords in your Smart Inbox, or even setting up alerts when certain terms are displayed.
Sprout Social also lets you set up more complex queries that you can use to keep track of trending topics on Twitter. By including and excluding variations of the keywords you’re looking for, Sprout’s Twitter listening feature helps you avoid the noise and find highly relevant conversations, especially those that a simple hashtag search or @mentioning your brand can’t uncover .
Using Twitter trending topics as a starting point, social listening can help you learn about the most important news, conversations, and influential accounts that are active at any given time. This will help you stay up to date on emerging trends that your audience is already raving about, and help you gain a competitive advantage.
Subscribe to twitter topics
Just like you can follow specific people on Twitter, you can now keep track of general topics so you can view a wide variety of posts on a specific topic. This is a great way to meaningfully expand your base of tracked accounts and find out who is influencing certain topics.
To access the list of topics to follow, go to your Twitter feed and navigate to the “More” button on the left side of your feed. Click on “Topics” in this menu bar. This takes you to a page of Twitter recommended topics for you to follow.
In addition to the list of suggested topics, you can click “More Topics” and browse or search for topics based on industry or interests.
Once you follow a topic, tweets will appear in your newsfeed about that topic, even if you aren’t following the person who tweeted it. Some of these tweets will prompt you to “learn more about this topic”. When you receive this call to action you can click on it and see a full list of tweets on the subject.
How Can Marketers Use Twitter Trends Strategically?
Using Twitter trends is not as easy as knowing the trends. You need to know how to use this information to market your brand, create better campaigns, and connect with your audience.
Understand the audience’s mood on important issues
You can use Twitter trends to understand the sentiment around trending topics and how people are responding to them. What makes Twitter Trends so helpful is that in real time you can see not just that people are talking about something, but exactly what they are saying.
When your brand launches a new product, you want to know more than just the number of posts discussing it. You also need to know if these mentions are positive (which in turn can inspire future campaigns and user-generated content) or if they are negative so that you can uncover an addressable problem. A quick look through the tweets can show how your audience generally feels about the product.
Use hashtags to join the conversation (if relevant).
In the early days of Twitter, it wasn’t uncommon for brands to jump on every trending hashtag to gain notoriety. While this may have made sense early on as a viral marketing strategy, Twitter users have become more nuanced in terms of how the platform works and no longer want companies to participate in unrelated trends just to stay visible.
It’s important to stay true to your values and voice by using only branded hashtags. That’s not to say brands can’t participate in broader, more popular hashtags. But it’s crucial that it make sense and not come out like you’re trying too hard to get into a conversation.
Plan a content calendar based on past and future trends
Twitter gives you an overview of what’s happening on social media right now. This makes it a great resource when it comes to predicting trends and planning your content calendar.
After a while, you will find that certain trends become predictable. Recurring hashtags like #motivationmonday or #transformationtuesday will be trendy every week. This makes it easy to incorporate these trends into your schedule or content plan.
Other predictable events like seasonal events, holidays, and hashtag holidays are also great ways to plan your content ahead of time, knowing that this is what people will be talking about on Twitter that day.
Use Twitter sponsored trends for a paid marketing solution
Sponsored Trends is a paid option that allows businesses to appear in the Trends list on the Home screen and the Explore tab on Twitter.
These trends are usually complemented by other sponsored tweets that appear on users’ timelines. Sponsored trends are good for brands that are starting a new campaign or product and want to introduce it to a specific audience.
One of the benefits of using Sponsored Tweets is that Twitter has an exclusivity policy. This policy only allows one customer per day per country to run a Sponsored Trend. So unlike other advertising platforms, you don’t compete with other advertisers in your area on Twitter for 24 hours.
Twitter trends are here to stay
Trending topics can help brands leverage trends in their industry and measure what their audience is paying attention to. With the help of Twitter trends, marketers always have their finger on the pulse and can actively participate in the conversations in real time. As the platform continues to grow, so do the opportunities to connect with your audience about trends and relevant topics.
For a deeper dive into how brands are using certain Twitter trends, check out our information on when and how to know which trends to join.