For those who use Twitter regularly, you will know how useful the trends feature *can* be for spotting a fast developing topic or viral. However, as with all these things, there is a major downside. Real-time spam.
In order to make a tweet easy to find by those who will be interested in it, you add a hashtag #. This then groups all tweets about that subject into a ‘channel’. When a large number of users are all using the same hashtag, this topic can become a trend on Twitter.
For instance, during the recent Digital Britain summit #digitalbritain started to show on the trends as soon as Stephen Fry took to the platform and his many followers started to tweet with the #digitalbritain tag.
However, in order to disseminate their message to a wide audience, spammers have now taken to adding trending hashtags to their tweets, which is causing havoc as channels get clogged with spam and unrelated marketing messages.
Danny Sullivan’s recent blog post outlines the problems being felt by Search Engine Land, which also highlights how tweets that do not come from the quoted source (eg with a retweet or RT) can begin to affect branding, relationships with your community and so on.
Twitter will need to deal with this problem rapido. Recent live events have been increasingly affected by spam during the course of an event, and Twitter is an ideal medium for such events and conferences as it allows a multitude of virtual delegates to benefit from live streaming, commentary etc and brings an event to a far wider audience than is possible and affordable with a venue.
Whilst showing trending topics on Twitter does have its uses, especially for marketers working on viral campaigns, until the spam problem is resolved, then it would be better for Twitter to remove them.