Keeping up with what’s trendy in today’s world now requires more than a weekly phone call to your favorite niece or nephew and a subscription to Glamour or GQ. With the fast-paced evolution of social media, what’s hot today will have fallen off the radar by tomorrow. While I’m glad I’m far removed from teenage years and only have to keep up with tech trends to stay on the “in” (I can’t imagine what fashion is like these days), there is an easy way to stay current on the latest trends if you have Twitter thanks to trending topics. These topics, which you can set to a local, national, or global scale, keep track of what most people are talking about at the moment. As a brand, you can use these topics as a guide to keep your message relevant.
Trending topics can be used in two ways, and usually best if together. Use trending topics, which appear in the sidebar of Twitter.com, as a guide for what your brand or business should tweet about. If one of the hottest topics of the day is the new (or most recent) episode of the Bachelorette, and your brand is in the wedding industry, you may want to tweet about the episode and how it relates to your clients or customers. Additionally, you can add the trending topic hashtag to your tweet so your tweet appears when others search for that trending topic.
While adding trending hashtags to your related, relevant tweets can help your business or brand be discovered by a larger market, be careful not to “hijack” a hashtag. This is when you use a trending hashtag — usually about a global cause, concern or crisis — and selfishly redirect the issue to something entirely unrelated. Kenneth Cole was a prime example of this when he tweeted about the uprising in Egypt in early 2011 and used the trending #Cairo hashtag to draw attention to his own new spring line. There was an instant backlash against the insensitivity and careless use of social media, which negatively affected the reputation of his brand. Not only will this type of behavior offend all readers of your tweet if you do the same, but you will likely alienate and lose followers. “Hijacking” hashtags for the purpose of being found in Twitter search results does not help keep your message relevant, but rather achieves the opposite.
Carefully used trending Twitter topics and hashtags can help direct your strategy and demonstrate that your messages are timely and relevant. Just make sure the topics and hashtags you choose are related to your business and brand, and that there is a legitimate connection between the topic and your tweet to avoid a selfish “hijack” of hashtag.