#Trending On Twitter: The New Avatar Of ‘Viral Film’ - Kapil Ohri

Kapil Ohri talks about the madness of brands to trend on Twitter to get viral and the ways opted and how effective are they


Editor’s Note: The article has been cross posted with due consent from Kapil Ohri - author of  The Curious Digital Marketer book series and Planning Director Planning Director, OgilvyOne Worldwide. The views expressed in this article are author’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect views of his employer.

There is a new mantra ‘Trend my brand on Twitter’, which brand managers are chanting these days in India. This mantra is actually a new avatar of ‘Create a viral film for my brand’, which almost every brand manager would embrace till 3-4 years back. What has made the brand managers go gaga over ‘Twitter trending’? May be they are falling for the fad or it could be their desire to show-off that the world is talking about their brand on social media.

But before brands put ‘trending’ to use, mindlessly, it is important for them to understand whether or not should they be ‘trending’ their brands on Twitter and how should they be doing it.


For the uninitiated, any topic which is being widely talked about on Twitter at a point in time is said to be trending on twitter. Twitter enables a registered user to see top 10 trending topics across the world. The topics may vary from politics to celebrities to sports, etc.

Hijack Trending

Though the ‘trending’ process looks very simple and organic (If lot many conversations are taking place around a topic at a point in time, the topic is viewed as ‘trending’). It’s difficult for brands to achieve it (at least organically), as users don’t tweet/retweet about brands often, when compared to other common topics. This is what makes brands adopt in-organic ways to hijack ‘trending’ on Twitter.

In-organic ways here refer to brands initiating conversations on Twitter and fuelling them using different ways like running ‘contests’ (asking users to tweet/retweet brand-related hashtag) or activating influencers (users with large followers base) and asking them to tweet/retweet conversations related to the brand. Many influencers charge money for the same. The remuneration often ranges between few thousand rupees for a single tweet to many thousand rupees for a package of several tweets.

Seemingly effective, the whole process of hijacking the Twitter ‘trending’, however, raises a pertinent question –Does trending on Twitter (using in-organic methods) actually help the brand?

Is hijacking effective?

Trending via Contests: Most people participating in contests are contest junkies or people with fake accounts who track and participate in all sorts of contests online. They interact with brands whenever there is a contest and later disappear. This seems to be a good idea when the brand is targeting broader audience base and doesn’t really care who participates in the contest.

For instance, for a fast-food or multiplex brand, even contest junkies are relevant as they are also their potential consumers. These junkies, however, are not a good choice if they are not the right target audience for the brand and their association is merely driven by the contest. As a result, even if the brand manages to trend on Twitter for a while, it certainly does not mean that it has succeeded in approaching the right target audience and building long-term sustainable relationship with them.

Trending via Influencers: Influencers are still a better choice for ‘trending’ a brand on Twitter. Choosing the right influencers gives brands an opportunity to reach the right set of audience (followers of influencers). However, leveraging their association for short-term branding (trending) via few tweets is not a wise idea, as the influencers may endorse and tweet for competing brands soon after. To eliminate this possibility brands should build long-term association with the influencers.

It is, thus, important for the brands to first understand their need for ‘trending’ on Twitter and thereafter resort to ‘Twitter trending’ while making appropriate choices of the ways to do it.