5 Steps to Trending on Twitter
Peter Panda

Everyone dreams their campaign will become the next #FF on Twitter. We’ve helped a few different client campaigns trend nationally (and one internationally) for various periods of time, and we learned a few things along the way. Creating a trending topic on Twitter isn’t easy, but by following a few best practices, you can create a recipe for viral success.

1. Select the right hashtag.

Twitter’s algorithms decide what is trending by looking at volume and velocity of a hashtag, topic or phrase. If you’re going to trend, you need people to be able to easily add to that volume. Find something that’s short but also unique enough to remember.

2. Promote, promote, promote.

Once you’ve selected your hashtag, the next step is getting the word out. Depending on the campaign, that might include tagging TV spots, featuring it in a print ad or mentioning it in social messaging. If the hashtag is being used for an event, don’t forget to include it on signage and emails, and have it announced over the PA system. Conference sessions should always include the hashtag on each slide. Surround the user with the hashtag so it’s top of mind when they start tweeting.

3. Make tweets visible.

People react to social validation, so find ways to showcase their tweets to other users. If you’re in person, throw a feed up on a projector. For a digital-only campaign, consider an online interactive experience (The NBA does it big, but there are also simple ways to showcase user-generated content.) or a live feed in your display media. The key is to use technology that allows you to moderate so the tweets you display are on topic and on brand.

4. Engage with people using the hashtag.

Once things start to gain traction, be sure to engage select users who are participating. I like to look for not only influential users but also highly active users who might be less influential. Advocates can be more meaningful than influencers when you engage them correctly. Retweet their content. Respond and start a conversation. Take the next step to connect them with your brand.

5. Leverage paid media.

At the end of the day, there’s always the option to pay for a promoted trend, but that comes with a hefty price tag. Why not use much more affordable promoted tweets to put your hashtag in front of others? Fake it until you make it.

Peter Panda

Pioneering social media panda bear Tagawa “Peter” Panda was born on a Chinese game reserve in 1969. He emigrated to the United States in 1987 speaking no English, with only the fur on his back and $97 stored in a Jansport fanny-pack wrapped around his waist.

In 2003 while searching for food on the campus of Washington University, he discovered a computer lab where he would ultimately teach himself web development, graphic design, and immerse himself into the growing digital media evolution that was erupting at the time.

With his trademark surly demeanor developed during beatings on his boat ride from China to the U.S., as well as having a penchant for eating vast quantities of bamboo, and enjoying Scotch and cigars, Peter is broadly recognized for coining the phrase “social media” in 2004. He joined Elasticity in late 2009 as the agency’s director of social media strategy and wildlife relations. Friend him on Facebook here.

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