Friday, June 29, 2012

Is it trending? Probably not....

From Blog-Blond
I get the logic behind Twitter's latest tweak to Trending but it's making me the official assassin of joy at work.  Here's what happens:

Every few days we get a phone call from someone who has recently run a campaign that has included some kind of activity on Twitter, normally with a hashtag. Through tears of pure happiness they announce that their chosen hashtag is trending on Twitter. Visions of the countless millions who have seen, understood and passed on their message dance before their eyes. Screw you Justin Beiber, a worthy cause has finally triumphed in the twitterverse

And that's when we have to kill the joy. Stone dead.

Taking a deep breath, I or my trusty sidekick have to say "No, it's not"
"But how can you say that??" they blub "I'm looking at it on my screen. It's TRENDING I tell you!!"
"On your screen it is - but that's because a lot of the people you follow have been talking about it, not because everyone on Twitter has. Twitter's started customising trend reports"

And then we sit back and listen for the distant sound of dreams exploding or the high pitched squeal of an ego as it deflates. Neither one is pretty.

Twitter's logic is OK. They've realised that global or even local trending topics may not be of much interest to some people.  Personally I find them useful - admittedly I couldn't care less about which footballer is transferring to what new club but I'm willing to put up with that - it's handy to know if David Cameron is getting crucified in PMQs. Furthermore deceased celebs pop up on Twitter a lot faster than in the Times obituary column.

However not everyone is the same. We're getting very cosy with being able to control or filter every bit of information coming our way. The idea of generic data being imposed upon us from above is increasingly resented.

So this month Twitter introduced "Tailored Trends". The algorithm isn't clear but now users chiefly see what is trending based on their location and the people they follow. For a lot of users that might be a good thing but then Twitter tripped up. It made Tailored Trends the default setting and not everyone noticed.

And that's when our phone started ringing....

So how can you fix this?

The quick solution is via your feed on the Twitter site rather than any twitter clients like Tweetdeck. At the top of the list of currently trending items there's an option to Change them.

Clicking on that will get you this:

Click on Change (I know, it's a no-brainer) which gets you this:

You can go as global or local as you like. Below are the contrasting lists of trending topics for London and the world taken about 2 minutes apart. They have nothing in common apart from the promoted trend which everyone ignores anyway). Looks like the cricket is on in the UK....

And finally, in case you were wondering what trending really means - here's a video clip from Tweetdeck showing a topic that is trending worldwide (watch the column on the right)

Good luck.


  1. So the people Dying Matters follows (predominantly charities, clinicians, UK politicians and those connected to Exmoor - Ed's prerogative) are tweeting about Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj? Not so, so how so?

    1. Interesting. Since Twitter aren't publishing how they're determining customised trends it's hard to guess - although perhaps Justin Beiber is more of a sensation in Exmoor than we realise!

      Thanks for the comment.