4 ways to find trending topics on Twitter

Dec 20, 2017
4 ways to find trending topics on Twitter

An increasingly important part of any PR pro’s job is staying abreast of industry trends and breaking news impacting his or her company or client.

And while social media, particularly Twitter, fuels the fire that keeps our newsfeeds full 24/7, it also provides a great place to start when tracking trending topics.

Think about it: Whenever a major event or breaking news story emerges, the first place people turn to to express their thoughts and opinions on the subject is Twitter.

As this platform continues to grow, it becomes an even more powerful tool to determine what’s popular right now.

Why should PR pros keep up with what’s trending on Twitter?

Love it or hate it, PR pros need to know how to find trending topics on Twitter. Here are four good reasons why.

1. To stay abreast of general news

PR pros need to do their homework, and that includes keeping up with current events, within and outside of your industry.
With active usership in the hundreds of millions, Twitter is one of the best places to follow what’s going on right now around the world. The platform collects brief updates from both professional journalists and everyday people, providing a glimpse into current events and trending topics not seen anywhere else (or seen on Twitter before making it elsewhere).

2. To track what journalists we want to pitch are talking about

A good (read: great) PR pro also has an investigative mind.

That means taking the time to research the media outlets and reporters you’re considering pitching. Twitter is a great place to start, because it provides an inside glimpse at a journalist’s opinions and recent news clips so you can make an informed decision about whether or not to pitch them, and what you should say if you do.

3. For possible newsjacking opportunities (but also to figure out when NOT to pitch)

Capitalizing on a trending topic to make it work for your brand story (AKA newsjacking) is a great way to get noticed by journalists and members of your target audience. But to do it successfully, you have to react fast to emerging stories and events. Keeping up with what’s happening on Twitter can allow you to quickly wade through topics and find something that will resonate with your brand.

That being said, not all trending topics are created equal -- you should also be aware of what’s trending so you know to silence scheduled tweets when there’s a disaster or something major happens in the news that might make your tweet look silly or worse.

4. For story ideas

By its very nature, Twitter (and social media as a whole) connects PR pros directly with stakeholders and members of your target audience. So why not use what real consumers are saying to your advantage?

Keeping up on brand mentions on Twitter gives you insight into what people actually think about your brand or how they use your product, which can potentially give you new ideas of what and how to pitch

How to identify trending topics on Twitter

So now that you know why you need to stay up-to-date on Twitter, how can you harness all of that data and use it to the advantage of your PR efforts?

1. “Trends For You” on Twitter

Hundreds of millions of active users is great, but it can also make sifting through content on Twitter seem like an overwhelming task. Luckily, the folks at Twitter want to help! That help comes in the form of their Trending Topics feature.

Twitter collects information about who you follow, what you search, where you live, what your interests are and more to show you “hand-picked” topics that are both timely and you-centric.

You can then drill down even further to browse trending topics related to one specific keyword, location, person or event, making it even easier to find news that impacts your brand.

Thanks, Twitter!

2. Twitter’s in-platform search feature

If you have a more specific idea of what you hope to find on the platform, you can search for names, keywords or hashtags using Twitter’s in-house search.

While running a search, you can filter results by “Top tweets,” which typically includes tweets that have already gone viral or come from a verified source, rather than “All tweets,” which is a collection in real-time of all tweets related to a search.

3. Muck Rack

Still feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of sifting through so much content?

Muck Rack can help with that.

If you already have an idea of what you’re looking for, you can enter relevant keywords into Muck Rack’s advanced search feature to find journalists who have those keywords in their titles, Twitter bio or recent tweets or see reporters who shared articles recently featuring those keywords. Even better, you can add a journalist to your media list directly from this page!

So what about the times when you’re not actively searching for trends? Signing up for Muck Rack Alerts can help you monitor the Twittersphere 24/7 without breaking a sweat, so you can stay on top of potential crises and discover PR opportunities.

Receive email notifications when journalists tweet or link to articles matching your search terms. You'll know who to connect with whenever, wherever you are.

How do you stay on top of trending topics on Twitter? Let us know!

Curious to learn more? We'd love to show you how Muck Rack works!

Jessica Lawlor is the features editor for the Muck Rack blog and handles PR and social media for Muck Rack.

Photo via Pixabay

About the author

CEO at JL&Co. Founder of the #GetGutsy blog. Managing editor at @thewritelife & @muckrack. @templeuniv adjunct, alum & @templewomen founder. Yoga teacher.

Signup for the Muck Rack Daily email

A digest of journalism, written by journalists, delivered to your inbox daily.