How to take advantage of Twitter trending topics

If your Twitter conversation is feeling a little stale, it can be tempting to take a look at the Trends box and find something popular to jump in on. What better way to gain exposure for your brand, right? Well not every real-time marketing moment ends in a “Dunk in the Dark“; some are cautionary tales (like that time DiGiorno didn’t check to see what a trending topic was about before using it and made light of domestic violence).

So we thought we’d break down how you can take advantage of Twitter trending topics without falling into the latter category.

Got questions or something we missed? Find us on Twitter @UnionMetrics.

Take inspiration, but never newsjack

First things first: Always, ALWAYS click through a trending hashtag to see the context it’s being used in. #WhyIStayed seemed straightforward to DiGiorno, but had they clicked through before tweeting they could have saved themselves a lot of trouble.

Anything people are riffing on for fun is fair game for you and your brand to join in on, just be absolutely sure that a trending hashtag is actually a lighthearted joke before you do. You never want to use tragedy to sell your products. Even if that’s not your intention, that is how it would most likely be read. Remember: Your brand is what consumers think of it, so don’t carelessly squander their good opinion of you.

Never force an association

Real-time marketing is supposed to be in the moment, so if nothing is jumping to mind that’s relevant to your brand when you find a good trending hashtag to jump in on, you’re better off sticking to the content strategy you already have in place. Audiences expect a timely response to a trend for your brand to be thought of as “on it”, but you never want to sacrifice appropriateness for speed. An innocent but forced association won’t cause you to be viewed as negatively as brands who are seen as capitalizing on tragedy; instead you’re likely to be seen as tone-deaf and out of touch. (See “Brands saying Bae“.)

Whether or not that “works” for your brand depends entirely on your target audience.

Check your settings

Are your trends general or are they tailored?

Twitter trendsCheck by clicking on the “Change” button next to “Trends”. This should pop up:

Tailored trends

And you’ll know if your trends are tailored or not. Choose depending on your brand strategy and the target audience you’re trying to reach.


Knowing what’s already resonating with your Twitter audience can make it easier for you to decide whether or not a trending hashtag you notice is worth it for your brand to jump in on. Something like the comprehensive Twitter analytics- available through our plans or the Social Suite- can give you that insight (and expand it across social channels, too).

Specific, actionable social intelligence. See how Union Metrics helps marketers win.

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