Is Twitter's Trending Topics Out Of Reach For Most Marketers?

Yesterday morning at 10am I published a blog post for a client that encouraged that account’s Twitter followers to take part in a competition.

Essentially, all the followers had to do was retweet the blog post, which came with a convenient hashtag and personalised link.

The competition ended at 1630 in the UK, and was a huge success. When the offer closed, the blog post had 830 retweets. And even though we announced a winner almost immediately, we’ve had another 100 since then.

I was hoping that this kind of activity – which was at a frenzied pitch for the first couple of hours – would see the hashtag reach Twitter’s trending topics. But while it made the top 10 in Manchester, and by all accounts flirted outside of this in London and the UK, we never actually made an official top ten.

I found this disappointing, but not unexpected. Twice in the last month or two I’ve had posts I’ve made on my personal account see over 500 retweets, and neither of these saw my moniker make any kind of appearance amongst Twitter’s most popular topics.

Various studies have been done on the sort of interest a topic needs to trend on Twitter, but from what I can see most of these are dated and hardly definitive.

Certainly, it seems obvious to me that even before the bulk of the citizens of the United States are awake and active on Twitter you need well above 1,000 retweets, likely in a very focused period of time, to have any chance of making Twitter’s top ten. And once the USA roars into life it takes a lot, lot more.

Which leads me to believe that barring a miracle Twitter’s trending topics is out of reach for most marketers.

Yes, anyone can theoretically fluke the top ten, which is full of fluff and nonsense half of the time. Major events like the deaths of the very famous are guaranteed to chart. And even beyond that, the merits of making this lofty peak are debatable once the spammers get their hands on a hashtag. I’m simply proposing that a planned campaign to trend on Twitter is very hard to guarantee, certainly unless you’re a very major brand or have the involvement (paid or otherwise) of some of the power-celebrities.

Which of course 99% of marketers do not. You can get creative with a tweet, but not that creative. Even the best legs benefit from a running start.

All of which of course explains why promoted trends and tweets are actually a very good idea. If only they weren’t so darned expensive – and thus exclusionary – to all but the people who probably don’t really need them in the first place.

(Image credit: Julia Roy.)