Twitter is going to help users discover why certain topics are trending by adding context with a representative tweet.
The company says people should be able to immediately understand why something is trending.
With the way the trending section is designed now, it’s not always easy to understand why a topic ended up there.
Anecdotally speaking, I’ve noticed many trending topics are full of people asking why the topic is trending in the first place.
In fact, Twitter says the question “why is this trending?” was tweeted over half a million times throughout the past year.
To make it more clear why a topic is trending, a pinned tweet and description will appear alongside trends to add context.
“Throughout Twitter, we’ve been working to bring people more context on what’s happening with labels on Tweets and accounts as well as curated pages (aka Moments) and related articles on trends.
To help with this, we’re adding pinned Tweets and descriptions on trends to help explain why something is trending.”
This update is designed with the idea that all it takes is the right tweet to understand why something is trending.
Twitter calls that a representative tweet, and that’s what users will find pinned underneath certain trends.
Only “some” trends will have a representative tweet pinned to them, not all of them.
Given how fast trending topics can come and go, it would be unrealistic to promise representative tweets for all of them.
Perhaps if the whole process was automated that could be accomplished, but there’s a human curation team involved in selecting the right tweet for each trend.
Twitter is employing algorithms along with its curation team to determine how well a tweet represents a particular trend.
The algorithms are designed to identify representative tweets that aren’t potentially abuse, spam, or posted by accounts “trying to take advantage” of Twitter’s systems.
After Twitter’s algorithms have identified an appropriate tweet for a particular topic, its curation team will evaluate if it’s both reflective of the trend and popular.
Representative tweets are rolling out now on Twitter for iOS and Android. They will eventually be added to the browser version of Twitter as well.
Here’s an example of what the trending section looks like at the time I wrote this article:
As you can see it’s immediately evident why those particular trends are popular.
Representative tweets do not accompany most trends though. Only 4 out of the top 10 topics had an accompanying tweet when I checked.
Of course, that will vary from one moment to the next depending on what’s trending at the time.
Descriptions coming later
As mentioned, Twitter’s plan is not only to add representative tweets to trending topics, but a brief description as well.
Twitter users will have to wait a bit longer for that, as descriptions will be rolling out later.
“In the coming weeks, you should see brief descriptions added to some trends as well to help add context to the trend. Descriptions will provide straightforward, clearly sourced context around why something is trending.
Descriptions are developed by our curation team and follow their guidelines.”
When Twitter does add the descriptions for trending topics, they’ll be added to the mobile app as well as twitter.com.