"Can you make me trend?" A familiar request of more than a few brand managers and SME owners during 2014, but why? To explore the idea of trending there first needs to be some education as to how one trends, the true value of trending and what real impact (if any) it has on your bottom line. After all that's why we do it remember?
On Christmas Eve my personal Twitter account trended. I happened to grab a great spot at the famous Grafton St Christmas Eve busking and snapped and Vined away content from the front of the melee. A number of media outlets shared these images and videos, as a result my account trended in Ireland and Dublin according to the Trends Map Ireland (@TrendsIreland) and Trends Map Dublin (@TrendsDublin) accounts.
Now these are not official Twitter trending accounts and in fact, rarely reflect the official trending hashtags or accounts that are displayed on Twitter's own trends. There's little clarity on why the trends on Twitter and Trendsmap differ so wildly but from the blurb on Trendsmap we're told:
"Twitter trends mapped. Visualize topics trending globally, nationally, and in your city. See the top news stories, videos, and images for trends occuring anywhere."
The unique offering from Trendsmap however, is that they'll tweet your hashtag/account handle to let you know if and when you're trending (according to them) something easily missed if you're not paying attention to the trends tab on your Twitter client. It's also infinitely easier to trend according to Trendsmap's calculations it seems.
Why would you want to trend? I've seen people in the industry paid to make a client trend. Here's €x per influencer (over 1k followers) that you get to tweet about our product. Sure enough they trend and that's grand for visibility but to what end? Those influencers don't really care about your brand. Yes, they sent a tweet but will they ever buy your product, probably not. It's try-hard, it's false and ultimately it's checking a vanity box with no other purpose. Also to add while the ASAI haven't been as strict here as the ASA have been in the UK on #ad inclusion but it's coming. The realisation should be simple- it's far more worthwhile for you to get your message to 100 highly targeted individuals who'll LOVE what you're selling than 300,000 people who don't give a shite!
How do I trend? Having had a number of clients from San Pellegrino to HB trend this year on Twitter, recently I was approached by a friend starting out in the digital marketing space and asked the above in relation to a client. After 5-10 minutes of rambling on about the value of trending and why they should educate their client about how they could achieve more meaningful goals through social. I then gave her these few key pointers for getting the most impact for campaigns and increasing changes of trending on Twitter based on analysis of previously trending campaigns.
You launch your #campaign during a day of the #WorldCup final on a day when #EndaKenny makes a fool of himself and the #GrandStretch is setting in you've a lot to contend with. Small fish in a bigger pond of unified conversations. Unless you're handing out free iPhones all day in town don't bank on it!
You're launching another #campaign to launch a new jumper which now comes in red? Who cares. But if you've got a giant blow up jumper on Grafton St with a jumper drop to targeted influencers who all love jumpers, released with a great survey about how we all love jumpers and a photo call with Dougal in a jumper then you've a 360 approach combining offline and online. You've got a real chance there.
People are riled, other people love your #campaign jumpers. They could win your #campaign jumpers. News breaks that your #campaign jumpers are actually made in Taiwan despite being "Irish made". Then it turns out that every 10th #campaign jumper has €500 stitched into the sleeves. Strong emotional connections (both good and bad) with the narrative of your campaign will make people talk.
3. Consistency / Length
You need to be memorable. Choosing a hashtag for your campaign is hugely important. Great examples include #ShareACoke and #TheToughest. Inconsistent and changing hashtags for the same brand focus on small activation lead bursts but don't build on larger brand communications points and is a missed trick.
Length is massive. For the love of god #AllOfTheSausagesAndBeans is too long people. Try to keep hashtags to a maximum length of 12 characters if you really must. Sometimes clients insist on longer hashtags but try to push back where possible. The shorter and more frequently used hashtags the greater the chance of trending.
Launch your new red jumper and have no hashtag present on it and no one will know what to include in their tweets. #newjumper, #redjumper, people will invent their own and you'll lose traction on your campaign hashtag.
Bad example- the Three Mobile giant octopus on George's St, sure it was cool but no one had no idea what hashtag to tweet with it or what it was for resulting in lots of potential missed tweets and un-captured conversation.
Good example- Core Media's #CoreMo stunt for Movember. The bold hashtag had everyone tweeting in theme with the building's moustache for men's health awareness.
If people use your hashtag be sure to reward them. Anything from RTs and favourites to give fans a moment of endorsement from the brand to free product and competitions for hashtag usage, always positively react to people using your hashtag.
It's your hashtag so own it! People won't always @ mention your account so keep an eye on monitoring the hashtag by itself too and interacting with people who use it.
Seán Earley is Head of Creative Services at New/Slang part of PSG Communications in between craft beer fancying and ice cream obsessions he works with clients like HB Ice Cream, Bord Gais, Gala Retail and VFI. He also sits on the board of the Irish Internet Association.
H/T to @darraghdoyle for a additional thoughts contributed here!