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Case Study: How To Start A Trending Topic On Twitter

trending_11-19When The Awl asked “What Were Black People Talking About Last Night?“, which Mediaite’s Robert Quigley called “lazy and, well, casually racist,” one of the things that got lost was an actually interesting question – how do these seemingly random hashtagged trending topics get started?

So we found out.

Case study: #theresway2many.

#theresway2many was the top trending topic yesterday, and is currently the third most popular trending topic of the week. You can see there’s still a steady stream of tweets featuring the trending topic (it should be noted that, from the pictures, they’re coming from a diverse group of twitterers).

And here’s how it started. On Sunday, at 2:19pmET by Ed Lover:
edlover_11-19

For those who don’t know, Ed Lover is currently a radio host in New York on Power 105 and host of a web show, and he’s the former co-host of Yo! MTV Raps. You can find him on Twitter at @MrEdLover.

Lover has 62,051 followers – which puts him in the top 1000, but just barely. He has 4,000+ tweets.

After Lover tweeted the call to start the trending topic, he used the hashtag in several subsequent tweets by RT’ing what others had come up with. But he also played along, firing off another dozen or so tweets with the hashtag over the next 16 hours. Sample: “#theresway2many reasons that I need a vacation!” or “#theresway2many Ugly dudes wit pretty girls.”

So what did we learn? Here’s a few steps if you want to start a successful hashtag trending topic:

Have a lot of followers– You don’t need to be Ashton Kutcher, but a solid 50,000 helps.

Have a dedicated fan base– Simply having followers doesn’t do it – you need people who will follow your lead, and RT your hashtag to their group of followers as well.

Pick a broad topic– As you can see from the responses, #theresway2many can go in a lot of directions, from the basic to the specific, from the serious to the obscene.

Play along– You should participate in your own hashtag, as well as others started by other people.

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