Help Your Event Trend on Twitter

Nine Steps to Trending: Help Your Event Hashtag Trend on Twitter

So you want your event to trend on Twitter? This is like trying to make a viral video or someone asking a publicist to make them famous. Like those examples, there are many tried and tested ways to help this happen but seeking fame, even in the form of a Twitter trend, for the sake of it is not the best way to approach social media. Instead, trending should be approached as one of many outcomes of delighting your audience rather than a social media objective in itself. That is not to say that trending on Twitter does not have its benefits.

Trending should be approached as one of many outcomes of delighting your audience.Click To Tweet

Benefits of Trending

  • By trending you can achieve reach, event awareness and brand awareness with an audience you might not reach otherwise. Trends are shown to Twitter users on desktop on the main screen when they login and for mobile users when they use Twitter search.
  • Many people click on trending topics to discover what they are about and how they can join the conversation. This will increase reach and engagement for your event on social media.
  • Generating and owning a trending topic can also be useful for increasing the number of followers that discover your account through that trending topic.
  • Trending is a good way to demonstrate social proof and is useful for convincing sponsors or potential speakers that your event is popular and gains a high volume of tweets – enough in fact to trend.
  • Trending is a useful comparative metric. Let’s imagine you organise an event that takes place in the same city or country as a competitor event and you have a similar target audience. If their event trends number one on Twitter and sustains that trend for even an hour but your event does not trend at all then their event is better at engaging a larger Twitter audience.

Why some events trend while others don’t.

Here are some possible reasons why a competitor event trended while your event did not.

  • They had more social attendees.
  • More people attended virtually because it was live streamed or televised.
  • The date and time of their event was during an off peak time when they didn’t have to compete with a popular TV show or major news event.
  • They were better at enabling their attendees and audience to be more social and talk about the event on Twitter.

Word Cloud for the Eurpvision

The Science of Trending

There is no precise number of tweets you need to generate to trend but it is possible to use a social listening tool to see how many tweets different trending topics have. That doesn’t mean matching that number of tweets will result your topic trending but it gives you an idea of the ball park you need to play in.

Number of Tweets

You will need more tweets to trend in a big city or country than in a smaller one. At time of writing, in Ireland, it is possible to trend on Twitter for an hour on a Friday night with about 600 Tweets. To be the top trending topic you would need perhaps four times that number but it is still quite an achievable target. In the United States, topics that trend on a Friday night have anywhere between three thousand and fifteen thousand tweets.

The #socialfresh hashtag which Sprout Social use to promote their annual conference always trends No. 1 in the U.S within the first few hours of the opening session of the conference. It usually stays in the top 10 trending hashtags for the rest of the conference and moves back into the number one spot a few more times during the event. The Social Fresh Conference goes on to generate thousands of Tweets, sometimes over 1,000 per hour, but it usually only takes a few hundred to get the trending topic started.

Trending at Events

Upward Velocity

It is not just the number of tweets that have an impact on trending but the other topics you are competing with, and the make-up of the tweets on your topic. The Twitter algorithm for trending topics takes into account past topic activity and how sudden the increase is on the use of the hashtag was – the upward velocity of the hashtag or topic. This is a challenge for event organisers.

To promote your event in the pre event phase you should tweet using the event hashtag and ask your social influencers, employees and speakers to do the same to help you in that promotion. However, the sudden and dramatic increase in activity that you will see just before the event and as it begins will help your event trend on Twitter.


Timing is everything when it comes to trending. It is best to avoid having your event on at the same time as primetime TV hours or large sporting and entertainment events. While sometimes this is unavoidable, no one wants their event to compete with the Super Bowl, The X Factor, or the announcement of a new head of state.

Trends usually don’t last very long. The lifespan of a trending topic can be anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours if you’re very lucky, and your topic could move up and down the list of trending topics as the event progresses. If your event runs over a few days you may trend locally some of the time, globally some of the time, and not at all the rest of the time. It is challenging to have the upward velocity needed to sustain a trend over multiple hours or even days.Trending during Eurovision

Watching for the Trend

Monitor the list of trending topics so you know when you are trending. If you are using Twitter to monitor this ensure that you have tailored trends turned off, otherwise the event will trend for your personalised view even when it’s not actually trending. Tailored trends customise trends to you based on your location and who you follow on Twitter. I find the website provides an accurate record of trending topics by country and city for each hour in the last 24 hours.

12 Tips to Help Your Event Trend on Twitter

  1. Create a Twitter Account for the Event. Twitter is the most real time social channel there is, so it makes a lot of sense to have a dedicated Twitter account that leads the conversations around your event. Having a Twitter account provides a place that prospects and attendees can go for the latest information about your event. Put event information along with the event hashtag in the bio copy and in a pinned tweet from the account.
  2. Choose a Hashtag. Choose a short, memorable, descriptive and branded hashtag for your event. If your event repeats monthly or annually, use an evergreen hashtag, e.g. #SageSummit rather than #SageSummit15 as you can then use this throughout the year and through multiple versions of the event and you will want to do this as you use it for pre, during and post event activity. Read these ten tips to help you choose a hashtag for your event.
  3. Communicate the Hashtag. There’s no value in a hashtag if no one uses it so it is up to you to make sure that everyone at your event and those that are watching online knows what the event hashtag is. Ensure that the hashtag is on all the event signage, the event guide and all printed collateral including your lanyards. You can even put the hashtag in the event Wi-Fi name. Use the pre event stage to ensure that your hashtag is highlighted as much as possible. Ask your speakers to use it when tweeting about the event. Include the hashtag in slides for all presentations and ask your speakers and MC to mention the hashtag at the end of every session especially if the audience changes each time a new speaker comes on stage.Show your hashtag at your event
  4. Use the Hashtag. What better way to promote the hashtag than using the hashtag. Use the hashtag in your tweets. If you are replying to a question or taking part in a conversation during the event use the hashtag. If you can see anyone trying to use the hashtag but it is slightly wrong, reply to them with the correct hashtag, in the nicest possible way of course. It is these small things that can make all the difference.

  5. Display Tweets at the Venue
    Set up a big screen that displays all the social messaging on the event hashtag. Set it up so that the Twitter profile photo of the profiles tweeting can be seen on screen. This will encourage a lot more activity as brands and individuals tweet more so the audience can see their logo or photo on the big screen. There are a variety of tools you can use for this including, Tweet Beam, and Activity Walls allows you to set up a Twitter wall and Instagram stream on the one screen. Set up the tool so that the screen will refresh automatically as new tweets are published.
    Tweet wall for events
  6. Organise a Thunderclap. The sharper the upward velocity in tweets, the more chance you have of trending. A planned and organised thunderclap can really help with this. In this context, a thunderclap is pre-planned sudden increase in tweets  with the aim of creating a sharp increase in social activity for your topic or hashtag at a particular time. If you are a large organisation you can combine the efforts of all of your employees, partners and social influencers to tweet about your event at the same time. Do not ask everyone to tweet the same tweet as this is spamming Twitter. Instead give everyone involved a topic to tweet about, the hashtag, and a variety of suggestions of different tweets or content that they can use. Ensure that you abide by the rules that Twitter has and these include not repeatedly tweeting the same topic or hashtag without adding value to the conversation. There is a service called Thunderclap which can be used to automate this activity. While it is tempting to use this for your event this tool there is really no need. If you’re doing a good job and delighting your audience you won’t need to.
  7. Gamify and Incentivise Tweeters. At the 2015 INBOUND event, HubSpot encouraged attendees and those watching on Twitter to tweet more about the event by having a Twitter leader board. They rewarded the top tweeter every day and at the end of the event. At least two of the top tweeters were not at the event but they were following on social media and were highly engaged and highly active tweeters. This tactic was designed to support the objective of increasing the number of mentions of the event hashtag. They displayed the leader board in the main event area, showing the number of tweets each social leader had posted that day. The leader board showed attendees that event organisers were listening and that other people were tweeting about the event, further enhancing the social proof to attendees. The prize for the top tweeters was tickets to the event the following year.
  8. Good Internet Access. Sometimes the simplest things are those that defeat us. Without good internet access, your social team and event attendees won’t be able to tweet or share content from the event and this will significantly reduce the social activity at the event. For the four years that Web Summit was held in Dublin the event always had problems with Wi-Fi. Despite paying a reported €400,000 for the Wi-Fi service it always struggled with the large number of people trying to connect at the same time. Internet access should also be easily accessible. Don’t make people jump through hoops to access the Wi-Fi at your event. If you must guard access with a password make sure all attendees have it and don’t use it as an opportunity to collect their details – this is just bad marketing and you should already have their details. Your Wi-Fi can also be great tweetable content in itself as this tweet from Oreo shows.
    Oreo Tweet about wi-fi
  9. Delight Your Audience. Give them something amazing to tweet about. This is the most important thing you can do at your event. Most event attendees are ready and able to get social but you have to give them something to get social about. Try to entertain, surprise and bring joy to your audience and you will see this reflected on social media. Here are some examples  of audience tweets from an event I organised in 2013. Attendees though they were attending a standard business breakfast but we surprised them with a birthday party themed event with a live Mariachi band, cake, presents and lots of fun! You can see they were happy to tweet about the event afterwards.


Delight Your Audience. Give them something amazing to tweet about. #socialforeventsClick To Tweet

Has your event trended on Twitter? Share your tips in the comments below. For more tips and advice on Social Media For Events buy Trending: The Complete Guide to Social Media for Events.

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