A few days back, most active twitteraties had stumbled upon a unique phenomenon on Twitter. The retail brand, Shopper’s Stop was giving away cool prizes for tweeting at a particular bidding number, using the hashtag #sstweetstore. The casino-like tweeting game was accompanied by a smartly built microsite that displayed the bidding number, the prize assigned to it and the counter for the number of tweets remaining. You could also see some enthusiastic tweets rushing below on the ticker, each with consecutive serial numbers. And if your tweet serial number matched with the bidding number, you won the displayed prize. The contest ran for 2 days and created a record of 22,568 tweets with #sstweetstore.
The problem with #sstweetstore
While a few digital media folks including me were impressed with the microsite and this new engagement initiative by a brand that thrives on starting something new, I was disturbed by the nature of tweets and what did this exercise give back to the brand. You can read more about my concerns with #sstweetstore here.
The other thing that needs a mention is that #sstweetstore did not trend, contrary to popular expectations. Although the #sstweetstore contest ran from 12 till 13 of June, all the while gaining momentum, the hashtag #sstweetstore had a tough time competing with ‘Parsi’, ‘Dhoble’, ‘Cafe Zoe’, etc. to make it to the list of Top 10 Trends in India or any Indian city, on the first day itself. But it did trend for a short while in Mumbai, as per Trendsmap.
So why did #sstweetstore not trend?
I decided to dive deep into Twitter’s brain to find out how it trends a certain topic and not others. Looks like there is a hidden algorithm and not some kind of favouritism adopted by Twitter for trending topics. This algorithm identifies topics that are immediately popular, rather than topics that have been popular for a while or on a daily basis, so that the user can discover hot emerging topics of discussion. And Twitter does not disclose this algorithm for fear of abuse. But apart from all this, there are also a set of rules for what can become a trend, to guard against its abuse. So let me suggest a couple of possibilities as to why #sstweetstore did not trend. Of course, you are free to debate them.
1. Quality of tweet:
The image above shows the nature of the maximum percentage of tweets using #sstweetstore. I haven’t scanned through all the 22,568 tweets but can safely say this from a cursory browsing through the tweets throughout the 2 days. As per the rules for trending topics, first and foremost, the tweet has to make sense. Hence, “Repeatedly Tweeting the same topic/hashtag without adding value to the conversation in an attempt to get the topic trending or trending higher”, can cause your account to be filtered from search. Tweets must add value to the conversation around the hashtag topic. The tweets shown above are inane and do not add any value. Besides, one user using the same hashtag repeatedly does not count.
Like I had mentioned in my concerns in the review post, the brand could have added a theme too to this contest. This would help in community engagement, market research as well as keep the opportunistic tweeters at bay!
2. Pace of tweet:
#sstweetstore had bidding points at large intervals such as 800, 1000 & 5000. So when a tweeter sees that the counter is at 450 whereas the bidding point is 1000, she stops tweeting for a while. This is followed by many others who begin to tweet again when the counter drops close to say 50. It is a game based not only on chance but also on common sense. This slows the pace of tweeting. Although, #sstweetstore seemed to be steadily gaining in momentum, it did not manage to reach a tipping point, at which it would have trended. For a topic/hashtag to become trending, not only should it have the required volume but also the velocity of tweets should be faster, when compared to relative conversations. That is why ‘GirlsLoveItWhen’, ‘Dhoble’, ‘Poor Parsi’, ‘Cafe Zoe’, etc. were trending on the 12th of June.
Shoppers Stop could have taken care of this by: a) having shorter bidding points or surprise bidding points, and b) reached out to influencers and indirectly their thousands of followers who could have helped #sstweetstore to go viral. This would increase volume as well as velocity, both of which are required. This is another factor for it to not trend after having meaningless tweets.
Whether you are a marketer or an event organiser, trending topics is a great tool to gain visibility for your product or event. Shoppers Stop did not launch any new product through #sstweetstore and also did not need to create buzz about the brand. We are well aware of it! So I am wondering why this campaign was conceived at all!
And now that Twitter has introduced tailored trends which means that you will see trends based on who you follow and where you are located, it will become increasingly difficult for marketers to implant trends. They will then have to wear their thinking caps!