When is a Twitter Trend NOT a Twitter Trend at all? The answer is “When it is a Tailored Trend”
Many of us are now Twitter users, and we’ve come to understand terms such as “follower”, “retweet”, “followfriday” and even “hashtag”. One term we think we understand is that of “Twitter Trends“. Trends are algorithm-generated insights into what is currently popular on twitter.
TAILORED JUST FOR YOU
In years past, it was possible for a group of enthusiastic wine twitterers to ‘trend’ by getting together and sharing a hashtag for the evening over a bottle or two of interesting wines. As the volume of twitter traffic has increased, it has become harder and harder to get noticed in the noise of Justin Bieber fever, US elections and amusing spoof celebrity accounts like @Queen_UK
Trends, however, are seemingly quite important to Twitter – witness their prominent position on the user’s homepage.
It was a shock recently, to see that one of our events, the EWBC, managed to “trend” for users in the UK, USA and Turkey – as many reported on twitter at the time. I’ve also seen other users mention how they’re “trending” recently.
However, on closer examination it seems that Twitter has changed the interface to create ‘tailored trends’ as announced in June 2012:
“Trends help you discover the emerging topics people are talking about on Twitter. You can see these topics as a worldwide list, or select one of more than 150 locations. In order to show emerging topics that matter more to you, today we’re improving our algorithms to tailor Trends based on your location and who you follow on Twitter.”
In other words, the trends you see (unless you have changed your settings) are not what is popular on twitter, but what is popular amongst the people you already follow on twitter.
BURST THE FILTER BUBBLES
This is a classic example of the “Filter Bubble“, where the content we see, and therefore interact with, is increasingly limited to that which is “popular” with the people we already follow. It means we exist in echo chambers where we are always speaking to the same people and seeing content we agree with and like. It makes life easier, less challenging, but also less varied and less interesting.
So, the next time you see your favourite wine, brand or event trending on twitter it might be a lot less exciting than it first appears.
I encourage you all to change your settings to make them more general and open to discoveries where possible.