How to Get Your Hashtag Trending on Twitter
Having a trending hashtag for your business, campaign, or event is great because it means more eyes on your content. And more eyes on your content means more engagement, more reach, more traffic, more leads (whatever your goal happens to be).
But let's back it up a second for those who may not be familiar with Twitter.
What are hashtags and trends?
A #hashtag is a linkable keyword that allows people to search for tweets that have a common topic. Think of it as a way to categorize the content or essence of your tweet in just one word since you don't have the space to elaborate.
Trending means a topic has become significantly popular in a short period of time. I'll get more into the specifics of this farther down.
Twitter trends can be worldwide, or you can filter them to show trends only in your country or city. However, Twitter only seems to allow filtering by larger centers. For example, in Canada you can see what is trending in the following cities:
If your location is not listed in Twitter, you can check out a service called Trendsmap which breaks down trends locally. I've done some comparison, and what is trending in Twitter vs what is trending in Trendsmap is not the same, meaning that the algorithm they use to determine what is trending is different. Based on the comparison plus my own experience with Trendsmap, I believe that the requirements for trending on Trendsmap are less rigorous, which makes total sense if you're looking at an area with a smaller user base.
What are the requirements for trending?
Twitter won't tell us exactly what their algorithm is because people would take advantage of it and cheat the system. However, Sean Lu recently did some research and outlined his findings in this article, where he breaks down what seem to be the requirements to trend. Case studies I've reviewed also back up Sean's findings:
It is a topic or hashtag that was not previously popular OR a topic that has become popular with a group of new people.
This is what prevents celebrities like Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian from trending every day - they have dedicated fans that are constantly tweeting about them, but they only trend when something happens that *other* people pick up on.
It has no swearing or inappropriate language in it.
Twitter filters these out so as not to offend any one, and to be mindful of young users.
It is most popular within the first hour of appearing at around 500 tweets.
Given enough time, any hashtag could have thousands of tweets, but Twitter is a real-time network and Twitter users want to know what is relevant right now. That's why it's important for the hashtag to appear a whole bunch of times in a short period of time - think of it like a breaking news story.
Total tweets AND total number of people tweeting BOTH matter, however if there is not enough different people tweeting, total tweets will not matter.
Don't try to get your hashtag trending by tweeting 500 times in an hour or asking your 5 best friends to send out 100 tweets each. Twitter recognizes quality (meaning that a large group of users are tweeting) over quantity when it comes to trending, so don't try to cheat the system.
Rules for trending on Twitter
Twitter also has rules around trending, to explain what NOT to do. If you break these rules, your account would be filtered out of trends and could even be suspended.
Adding one or more topics/hashtags to an unrelated Tweet in an attempt to gain attention in search.
This is also known as hijacking a trend or hashtag. For example, if a celebrity is trending and I add their hashtag to my tweet to get more reach, it likely that tweet is going to get filtered out.
Repeatedly Tweeting the same topic/hashtag without adding value to the conversation in an attempt to get the topic trending or trending higher.
Don't copy/paste a tweet and send it out over and over again - quality over quantity!
Tweeting about each trend in order to drive traffic to your profile or website, especially when mixed with advertising.
There are many examples of businesses taking advantage of hashtags that are commemorating causes or tragedies to promote their products or services. Even if there is a thin thread of relevance between the hashtag and your subject, this is insensitive. Don't do it.
Listing trends in combination with a request to be followed.
This could also be insensitive depending on what's trending. In addition, it adds no value to the conversation.
Tweeting about a trend and posting a misleading link to something unrelated.
This is a bit click-baity. Don't trick people into visiting your website - it's leaves a very bad impression.
Tips for Trending on Twitter
So all of this information is important, but what can you actually do to get your hashtag trending? Below I have a free guide that outlines 12 strategies you can use to make your campaign as successful as possible!