Popular conversation topics on Twitter are known as ‘trends’ and it allows users to tweet why the topic is important or interesting to them. The trend may be about a breaking news story or a fun topic to engage twitter users. It is also useful when in content development in that you can create content relevant to a hashtag, creating more traffic to your site/blog. It also allows a person to gauge the opinions or ideas from people on a topic. People however can get banned from the site if they use vulgar language, abuse the system or spam. A topic becomes a trend after polling of repeated hashtags found on tweets is done. The trend status is also determined by the time tweeted and volume of tweets that contain a certain hashtag.
The topics are usually around what is currently being discussed most rather than the overall popular topics from the community. You can view both international and regional tweets and this allows users to access current information creating a buzz. Media stations sometimes rely on trends since they are often times formed before they reach newsrooms. There are currently more that 500 million tweets generated per day and trends allow news, media and advertising industries to tailor their content to their target audience.
Twitter’s trends algorithm, though not released to the public, is what determines a trend and not a person. Though they have been accused of not letting more deserving trends get on the list or even censoring possible trends, they maintain that the trend algorithm is what interprets the data and determines if a topic will become a trend. According to their support page when they rolled out the Twitter algorithm, “The new algorithm identifies topics that are immediately popular, rather than topics that have been popular for a while or on a daily basis, to help people discover the ‘most breaking’ breaking news from across the world” This was so as to capture the most interesting topics taking place on Twitter.
The issue however with the algorithm is that searching a topic is useless. Google adds weight to a topic depending on how many users have searched it and where they go next. With Twitter, the constant changing of topics then makes it difficult to apply relevance to a particular topic or hashtag. You often find that what makes the trending list is not particularly what people are interested in. There has however been a new and more accurate algorithm put in place that analyzes the general pattern of tweets in a given topic in about 90 minutes sooner than the Twitter algorithm.
This new innovation allows users to break news before media stations air it. For many Kenyans, especially given recent events, trends have been how many people have gain access to breaking news wherever they are.