Twitter has made it all too easy to start an argument. Previously, you woke up, read the newspaper or watched the news, then you’d get to work and discuss a story in a relatively calm and reasonable manner. Now, thanks to Twitter, instead of reading a story and thinking about it and formulating a reasonable stance, we instead have to say the first thing that comes to mind. Whether it’s the pasty tax or teenagers screaming at adults for not being ‘Beliebers’ there is always something to get us riled.
There is one thing that drives this debate: trending. Trending has now made it so easy to get involved in debates. Instead of simply having these discussions with your friends, now with the simple use of a ‘#’ you can now debate with anyone who is also looking.
One issue I have with trending topics is that given the limited use of characters it’s quite hard to have a sincere discussion without flooding someone’s feed. Already having just 140 characters to express your opinion, this is further reduced by the hashtag topic itself which can often take up another 20 characters. It’s also a spur of the moment thing. You can’t really plan to start something that will trend.
One area where I believe #hashtagging comes in to its own is promotion. It takes big or unusual events to get something trending. But with Twitter’s advertising platform promoted trends, it becomes easier to direct what people are actively talking about. This has worked well with a number of films, especially comedy, where the aim becomes to start ‘banter’ and to make it fun to talk about that particular film. However, once you’ve paid your money there is no control over how others with use your promoted trend or what it will show up with.
It is more difficult to trend with other products. Even with product giveaways for quality prizes it difficult to get enough tweets to get the product or brand name trending. EA Sports FIFA, for example, give away tickets for most Premier League games every weekend, and other companies have been known to offer prizes such as tablets or phones, yet they find that their name or product is not being seen as often as they’d like.
Trending is something that works best in real time. It helps drive conversations for events that are unfolding whether it is about government policy or what is happening on Geordie Shore. More organisations might be better instead of pushing products to join in the conversation and the associated with a trend. By getting involved they could find themselves becoming experts on a topic, giving them a more lasting presence.