A trend occurs on Google+ when there is enough impetus behind a theme to enable it to ‘lift up’ enough and rise into trending topics. But sitting behind every post is a person and those people are really the ones influencing this results with every action they take.

Whether it is conscious (i.e. intended) or not, trends happen when groups of people are aligned in a direction, the subjects matter enabling enough similarity on these to be considered a cohesive trends. This could be when a new movie trailer is released, when a government is on the brink, when someone gets married or even when an iron lady passes.

Whatever the cause, they happen. But, can they be created? And if so, how would you go about it?
Well, here is a quick case study you may well have interested in.

Background

As some of you may know, for the past year there has been a trend on Tuesday called StarWarsTuesday.
“So”, I hear you cry, “why Star Wars?”

Star Wars was the first movie I ever saw as a kid in a cinema, in Swansea (South Wales).
I have a memory of being blown away. I was about 5 years old.
I won’t get all philosophical but when I found out Joseph Campbell (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Campbell) was involved I really started to see why George Lucas http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Lucas had written it as he did.
Let’s just say I have a lot of passion to get this one going as I loved the connection!

So why a do this on a “Tuesday”…

There are 2 reasons…

Firstly,‘Tuesday’ is ‘Mardi’ in French relates to the planet ‘Mars’
Just like Monday or ‘Lundi’ in French relating to ‘Moonday’,
Or Wednesday being ‘Mercredi’ relating to Wednesday

English has a mixture of origins but we can see the common threads.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_family

So, I love the idea of Tuesday relating to ‘Mars’, the God of War http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_(mythology) relating to ‘Star Wars’
See what we did there?

Secondly I needed something fun to do on a Tuesday! Don’t we all?

How do topics ‘trend’ on Google+?

Firstly, you will find 10 trending topics on the right hand side of the page when you click ‘Explore’ in Google+. But what creates such ‘trends’?
Well, for a topic to reach the ‘trending topics’ you need enough ‘activity’ with that hashtag, or a keyword. 

Using tags as an example, and having watched this for a while now, it is done through a) posting the tag and b) shares that spread the tag. So, in essence, enough people are engaging with that subject matter as to increase the activity enough for it to become a ‘trend’ and reflect in that list.
It is worth noting that the volumes needed to get something trending will vary primarily on the time of day.
Currently UK time from 6am to 10am is the best time for me to get something trending, as most trendy Plussers in the US are still asleep.
And you will need, currently, between 50 (yes) and 800 shares to really get this moving depending on what else is happening at that particular time.

What does this mean?
Well, this means that when many people are sharing at these times, a topic could trend.
This naturally happens when, for instance, there is a news story out.
So with a group of even 50 people dedicated to a cause, you can make a difference in spreading a message.

Why consider creating trends?

Trends spread a message.
Often the aim could be for the message to take on a life of its own e.g. a daily or weekly trend.
It then becomes a self-perpetuating meme through the network every time that ‘day’ comes around again.
When people see the ‘trend’ on their homepage etc. this encourages them to join in. They can search a # and find more posts on that subject.
The meme holds the content together.
Regularly the people are not in your network, so whatever the message has taken on a new life and spread further…
I would love to see #StarWarsTuesday continue to be a part of the Google+ experience and have set up a page to help it along: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/113320875098620005605/113320875098620005605/posts
The messages are a lot of fun – ok, expect for that weird brother/sister thing going on.

Back to the ‘trending’…

The more people who have ‘reach’ or influence then the more likely a trend will happen.
It is not just about influencing people with higher numbers of ‘circlers’ though – it is about people getting involved whose followers are aligned with the messages they send out.
This way people in their network are more likely to share and, in turn, spread that hashtag through their personal network, and beyond.
BUT it is consistency that matters with weekly trends.
Oh, and perseverance!
These things can take time.
I have been welcoming people who have been joining in on this meme and putting them into a circle of ‘First Generation’ Star Wars Tuesday-ers! This will get shared publicly very soon…

What’s next?

It is not just about Star Wars, of course.  William Shatner Wednesday’ was a hoot as well. But, this could be for any subject  – news, health and well being, social change, business, product launches etc.
There are many other tips I have learned about generating interest, for instance, engaging with everyone that is posting on that #hashtag  and even building up relevant circles of people participating, then directly notifying them has worked well too.
This helps them feel truly included in the process (used with caution, of course).
Have fun exploring how ideas spread across the Plus!

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