Curious about how to trend on Twitter? We’ve got you covered.
For marketers, business owners, and influencers, it’s not enough that you post content on Twitter. You must do everything you can to trend on the platform.
Especially when Twitter has over 192 million monetizable daily users, you would want to make sure your message gets discovered easily.
But that’s easier said than done. Even the best marketing professionals can’t guarantee that a tweet will go viral. But there are things that you could do to improve your chances.
Today, we’re going to talk about all the ways you could get a tweet to trend.
Table of contents
What does “trending” mean?
Before we continue, we need to talk about trends and what they mean for the average user.
When a word or phrase goes trending, it simply means that there’s a huge interest in that topic. On Twitter, trending topics are determined in real-time. So topics that have trended in the morning might get replaced come lunch time.
Trending topics are determined through an algorithm based on factors like who a user follows, their interests, and location.
Twitter will show all trending topics to its users. They’re meant to show the most relevant conversations other users are having at the moment. Users can then choose to jump into the conversation to offer their opinions or simply have fun.
Hashtags are commonly added to tweets to signify their relevance to a topic. However, a topic can trend without it.
What can stop a tweet from trending?
There are certain types of tweets that will never trend on Twitter. These are tweets that violate Twitter’s rules. The list is quite long but they are basically common-sense rules that you’re expected to follow while using the platform.
For example, you cannot threaten violence against a person or group of people. You also cannot use tweets for child sexual exploitation. Your tweets cannot engage in targeted harassment. And you cannot post content that results in buying, selling, or facilitating illegal transactions.
Tweets that contain profanity or adult/graphic references are also excluded from Twitter trends. You also can’t target the privacy of victims of serious crimes and of minors who are private figures.
How to get a hashtag trending on Twitter
If you want to get your own hashtag trending on Twitter, know that there are different approaches you could take. This list will contain some best practices on how you can get people to hear your message and jump in on the conversation.
Be active on Twitter
Let’s start with something that’s fairly obvious. You should put more effort into posting new tweets and interacting with your followers. This is especially true for brands that are just starting out.
However, you should put some thought into the things you share.
Will your tweet resonate with your followers? Is it worth resharing? Why should people reshare your tweet?
Use these questions as guides to check if you have a tweet worth posting. Continue posting substantial tweets on a regular basis to attract new followers. You’ll find that if you tweet frequently, you’ll fare better in the Twitter search results.
Offer exclusive content
If you want people to talk about your brand and tweet about it, you’ll have to offer content that they won’t find anywhere else. Content can come in different forms. For movies, you can launch your brand new trailer exclusively on Twitter.
For other types of businesses, you could offer a behind-the-scenes look at your operations. You can also try posting teasers for an upcoming product. If you want to go the educational route, you can display interesting facts and figures about a market segment.
Are you working with other influencers? Then tweet about your experience working with them. All you really want to do is to give your followers a reason to care about your Twitter profile. And if they care about your posts, they’ll go out of their way to make you a trending topic.
Give people a reason to use your hashtag
People need a reason to use hashtags. Often they’ll use it to be part of an ongoing discussion. But if you’re creative with it, you can use it to start a hashtag trend and showcase what your business is all about.
Take what Pandora did. It encouraged its users to tweet its account with the hashtag #soundslike plus any emoji. And when users did, Pandora sent them a song that they could listen to.
You can come up with a campaign with the same effect.
What’s your business good at? What can users get from you? Is there anything of value that you can offer your followers?
Launching a small contest can get people to retweet, like, and comment on your post. You can even ask people to use your hashtags as a requirement for qualifying for the contest. This will improve your chances of starting a Twitter trend.
Find the right hashtag
Your hashtags can make or break a campaign. If your hashtag has too many words, then people will just find it annoying or insincere which lessens the chances of people using it in their posts. Flooding your tweet with too many hashtags will have the same effect.
One common mistake that people make when adding hashtags is that they try to make them too specific. Brands are often guilty of this though some are starting to learn from previous mistakes.
You want to use generic hashtags. Why? Because it makes the hashtag more relatable. When people relate to a hashtag, they’re more inclined to interact with it.
Here’s an example:
One of the more recent trends on Twitter is #redflag. It started with people posting warning signs about the people they date. But as soon as it started trending, #redflag started to evolve. It became a meme because people could relate to the hashtag.
Of course, brands and personalities were quick to jump in.
So when you find the right hashtag, don’t be afraid to use it to your full advantage. It just might work out for you.
Use a social media marketing tool
There are advantages to using a social media marketing tool. Not only can it help with social marketing automation, but it also collects valuable Twitter data that you can use to boost your chances of trending.
Take posting times as an example. If you’re not using a social media tool, then you won’t know the ideal time to post on Twitter. You’ll simply be making guesses and hoping for the best.
But social media solutions will often have a feature that’ll tell you when your Twitter followers are most active. You’ll know what time and days you should post your content.
You should schedule your tweets to go out when your followers are most active to get better engagement rates. If your target audience isn’t there when your tweet goes live, then it wouldn’t gain any traction.
Once you find the right time to post, you can just schedule tweets to go live at the optimal times.
Twitter has a free scheduling tool called TweetDeck that you could use.
With the power of Twitter data by your side, you’ll have a better shot at trending hashtags.
Inject some personality
Some would argue that Twitter is fueled by humor. And people who take themselves too seriously on the platform often don’t get any traction. This goes for brands as well.
So when you post tweets, add some personality into them. You don’t even have to be edgy about it. Sometimes, that strategy backfires. But you want to—at the very least—humanize your brand.
Take Popeyes official Twitter account. Its tweets look like there’s a real person working behind the scenes. They’re not too polished and they do a good job of interacting with followers.
If people find you authentic, they’ll have one more reason to interact with your posts.
Spark a genuine conversation
The best way to drum up interest in a specific topic is by having a genuine conversation about it. Ask questions that will get people thinking. And when they respond, you should sincerely interact with them.
And don’t forget to add a hashtag that would make it easier for people to join in.
Utilize Trend Takeover
This method is inorganic but still effective. Trend Takeover is a Twitter feature that puts your ad alongside trending topics. This will allow you to display your message front and center without the need to generate a campaign to get a trending hashtag going.
There is also Trend Takeover+ which is basically the same thing with the only difference being the additional immersive video creative.
According to Twitter, this generates 3x more effective message association, 3x increase in trend engagement, and 9x more effective favorability metrics.
These trends will run for 24 hours within a country starting at midnight. Each Trend Takeover will allow you to add a hashtag (maximum of 20 characters), an optional trend description (maximum of 70 characters), and a companion tweet.
With Trend Takeover+, you can add a 6-second video, a GIF, or a static image.
When NOT to trend
Being on the trending list is a dual-edged sword. When featured in a positive light, you’ll feel like you’re at the top of the world. But when it fails, you’d want to sink beneath everything.
Some brands trend for the wrong reasons. Despite working with some of the best marketers, people can take their Twitter posts the wrong way. And instead of trending for the right reasons, they end up upsetting Twitter fans and get criticized for their moves.
Remember Burger King’s Twitter fiasco? While the intention behind the tweet was good, it got bashed for its seemingly insensitive statement.
Here’s a quick recap of what happened. Burger King UK launched a campaign to highlight the gender inequality in the restaurant industry. The goal of the campaign was to announce its culinary scholarship program for its female employees.
However, the company decided to put out a provocative tweet stating “Women belong in the kitchen” which promptly drew the ire of Twitter users. What most people didn’t realize was that there was a follow-up post clarifying that this is only true if women want to. It then went on to say that only 20% of chefs are women and that Burger King’s mission is to change the gender ratio in the industry.
But even before they could explain, people had already reacted negatively — accusing the company of using sexism as clickbait. This caused Burger King to issue an apology and delete the original tweet.
Burger King, however, is far from the only company that made mistakes on Twitter.
The Gap also made a similar move that caused the company to suffer the wrath of Twitter users. During the most recent US presidential election, it tweeted an image of a blue and red sweatshirt with the caption “The only thing we know is that together, we can move forward”.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with the message, some users found it tone-deaf. And it’s not even a real hoodie for sale which led to further mockery from its followers.
Because of all the angry replies it received, Gap eventually deleted the tweet. It got a bit too political in a time when there was so much uncertainty and anxiety. As some users put it: Gap failed to read the room.
As you can probably tell by now, even tweets with the best intention can backfire and hurt businesses. So you want to be careful when conceptualizing a marketing campaign for any social media platform.
How to get more engagement on Twitter
Trending on Twitter can be great for business. But what’s more important for users is to get better engagement rates. You want people to retweet your posts, reply to your content, follow your Twitter account, click on your links, watch your videos, and like your posts.
It’s these factors that contribute to improving your social metrics.
There are different ways to boost your Twitter engagement numbers.
One of the simplest methods is to engage your followers’ content. Do the same things that you want them to do for you. Like, respond, or retweet their posts if they are relevant to your business.
You also want to reply to direct messages that people send you. It can go a long way toward developing a lasting relationship with your followers. The more they get to interact with you in a meaningful way, the more they’ll respond to your tweets.
Investing in images and videos might get you the attention that your tweets deserve. Using high-quality images will help you stand out. You don’t need to hire a professional to get great media assets. Even a modern-day smartphone is enough to get great-looking pictures and videos. And there are plenty of third-party tools you could use to edit your media files.
To boost your engagement rates, you can try asking people to retweet your posts. You just have to be nice about it. You can also offer incentives for people who share your posts like discounts, coupons, certificates, and prizes.
Proofreading your posts is also important. You don’t want to come off as incoherent. Also, typos will turn people off. So make sure that you don’t add grammatical errors to your tweets. Review your posts before posting them. You want your message to be easily understood. There are times when a tweet might look clear to you but others will have trouble understanding it. Have someone review your posts before publishing if possible.
And don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is the best way to get your audience to interact with you. Once you get a conversation going, others will be encouraged to jump right in. This back-and-forth exchange will help you foster a community. That’s exactly what you need to get better engagement rates.
Frequently asked questions
How many tweets does it take to trend?
There’s no real answer here. It will always depend on your situation. Even someone with a small following can suddenly trend with the right tweet and hashtag. You just need to publish consistently to get a higher chance of trending.
How do you get the trending hashtags on Twitter?
To trend on Twitter, you’ll need people to post about the same topic or use the same hashtags. As a marketer, you can introduce a hashtag that your followers can add to their posts.
How do you trend on Twitter without hashtags?
When users write about a specific topic, Twitter’s algorithm will recognize it and add it to the trending list.
What’s trending right now on Twitter?
You can use Twitter Search to find out what’s currently trending on the platform. There are search filters available to help you break down the results. You can also narrow down the results to trending topics and hashtags in your location. There are also third-party sources that will give you an up-to-the-minute list of trending topics.
And that wraps up our guide on how to trend on Twitter.
Having your tweet go viral or start trending can have a tremendous impact on your business.
But like we discussed earlier – there’s no way to guarantee this can happen. However, by following the advice in this article, you’ll dramatically increase your chances.