Sunday, December 13, 2009

[Twitter] Trending "Pyramid", WMTK, et al.

THIS POST IS INSPIRED BY a recent group effort put in by ardent followers of a young singer to help promote her second international single set for release sometime after New Year 2010 in America, using Twitter as the platform of choice to create buzz.

While the group effort (it spans across all fan bases and geolocations) does not seek to undercut the marketing strategies of the young singer's record label — rather, it seeks to strengthen it independently — the flurry of suggestions from active followers on how best to use Twitter and its phenomenal trending capabilities has re-energized all of the singer's online community forums and nudged non-Twitter using fans into signing up for an account to join in the collective work.

Here, finally, is a good reason for me to share some insight based on some expanded and updated research in connection with the concerted Twitter effort which I hope will help.

As we know, there are many reasons for a topic to trend on Twitter. There are also 3 popular essential ingredients (expanded here to 7) on what makes for effective Tweets, and I hope I can help shed light:

[1] A topic has to be emotional. If any of you remember Ondoy/Ketsana — especially those who were most hit/have relatives affected by Ondoy in the Philippines — all Tweets about/related to the storm including the successful and "well-attended" performance of AJRafael on were randomly generated. By this I mean that all types of Twitter users from various locations and time zones used Twitter as a means to shoutout a particular topic (or topics: Ondoy/Ketsana/flooding/Philippines) but which all point to "Ondoy". In fact, as I myself witnessed, "Ondoy" was trending a couple of hours even before the #hashtag for it was generated, and it was because the event was emotionally hitting almost all of Twitter that even celebrities from the West took notice.

However, emotional need not mean tragic, sad or catastrophic. It simply has to be personal and true, the aim being to tug at someone else's similar experience no matter how basic or dull.

If one is to Tweet something about an artist and/or an upcoming single, for example or, if we wish for her/"Song Name" to trend at all, the posts must have something in it to trigger interest in others, not just exclusive to her fan base.

[2] Sharing something that "feels good, it needs to be told".
Conversely, experiencing something bad seems to have the same effect on people because we tend to warn others to avoid something in the hope of sparing them a similar experience.

I believe technology-related stuff, food, freebies and events, destinations and weather, links and blogs, etc., trend — even without the #hashtag — because these make people generally feel good (or bad) that these need to be shared.

In fact, it won't hurt to request a post to be reTweeted if need be, as hardselling (or the appearance thereof) can turn many users off.

Data grab courtesy of Sysomos

[3] A "trigger" (a launch, a special appearance, an event, etc.) - taking from Emmanuel Rosen's The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited which is basically composed of being:

[3a] people-driven, and very much in need of
[3b] participation (or, is "participatory") - in other words, something that naturally creates interest and invites inquiry.

[4] Allot character spaces for ReTweets. Social media experts advise to leave at least 15 chars. for reTweeting by others.

To these, I add:

[5] Above all, a good story, a credible source.
That Twitter is limited to just 140 characters does not mean short thoughts cannot convey a good story. Twitter users are people, after all, not robots. Stories also contextualize a Tweet. More importantly, to separate a spam (or 'bot) Tweet from that of a human being's, the source must be credible. It does not mean one has to be a celebrity — though that undeniably helps — but real experiences, real thoughts and sincere emotions in real time make for very credible sources.

{ADD} Might I add that one of the measures of a "credible source" would be news organizations which, by now, have all implemented social sites, not just blogs, into their pages. By virtue of their being news organizations — because we all rely on the news for news, after all, and not simply our next-door neighbor — these organizations are first to acknowledge the newsworthiness of someone or something.

[6] Some words on scheduling posts.
I also read about the schedule of Tweeting a post and there have been several suggestions at the forums, mostly based on time zones and people's availability to Tweet. Many have suggested that Tweets have a greater chance of being noticed not so much as to when the poster has the time as to when readers are actually online or catch up to read on others' Tweets.

DigitalDigs' Best Time of Day to Tweet probably illustrates it best on when to Tweet most effectively. :p

[7] Interdependence.
Twitter, like anything on the internet, exists interdependent on other sources and live sites.
I read a couple of posts at the forum about AJ Rafael being somewhat of an influential Twitter user, especially when his #HealPhilippines made it among the top trends during the Ondoy/Ketsana storm.

It must be noted that AJ Rafael posted a request over at his Facebook account on 24 Sept 2009 to help spread the word on Twitter about his contribution to promote awareness about the typhoon. This request was picked up not just by his FB friends but by others searching for FB tags about the storm happening in the Philippines at the time.

In other words, Twitter does not exist in a vacuum and trends do not always emerge overnight. Notice how strong brands and highly popular sites such as BBC World and the New York Times have Twitter accounts and always place a link on their front pages which visitors can't miss. This simply means some link love and sharing has to be given effort to, especially if one needs to promote a good cause, a notable person or an affecting music.

As in life, the Net is always a 2-way street and to survive, everything must co-exist.

Some very useful links:
  • Twitter's web traffic blog, Feb. 2008
  • Fuel Interactive's The Life and Times of a Twitter Link, Mar 2009
  • Emmanuel Rosen's The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited
  • Dan Zarella of Mashable's The Science of ReTweets, Feb 2009 (slightly technical)
  • Pew Internet's Survey results on Twitter's demographics, Feb 12, 2009 (viewable online or downloadable as PDF)
  • Find out what's trending and why at
  • The difference between meme and viral from Julian Cole's The Difference between a Meme and Viral, Apr 30, 2009
  • Find out when it's best to Tweet someone at the fun and simple Tweet O'clock
  • To find out the profile of a Twitter user and some demographics, go to and get some very interesting data.
  • If you're a data and visualization freak like myself, Sysomos' comprehensive 2009 survey of Twitter can be accessed here (data may actually overwhelm). [Recommended]
  • Twitter twivias from (which says I had been Tweeting for 1,010 days as of this post) and (only for public timelines)
  • HubSpot's TwitterGrader has comprehensive data on individual users, too.
  • If you're interested in other Twitter-related applications, Twitdom has a few lists to share.
  • Yahoo joined in the Twitter bandwagon and cooked up a fun online app to know your True Social Mojo (only for public timelines)
  • And, finally, to show us how many other words are trending all over the world at a given time, a visualization of Twitter trending from TrendsMap from where the graphic on top was taken. Such a cool site that is.


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