Hashtags can trend for ALL sorts of reasons. If a famous celebrity dies, their name tends to trend quickly. If there's a certain TV show on, like Dancing With the Stars, then many of the viewers tweet along real-time with their thoughts about the show. It's almost like watching a movie with a million other avid fans and hearing their thoughts right while you're watching it. For some people, it's thrilling and fun.
Lots of people click on the trending entries out of curiosity. They might see that Beverly Clearly is trending. They click to see why and they learn it's her 100th birthday. They then post about how much they loved her books.
The power of trending hashtags is that so many people do that - they click to see what's going on. And if your post is then in that stream, you get seen by thousands and thousands of curious lookers. You could draw in massive numbers of new followers if your post is interesting.
It is critical here that any post you make with a trending hashtag BE RELATED TO THAT HASHTAG. Let's take an example of what NOT to do. This person had a video they wanted to promote. So they looked at the list of trending hashtags and phrases. They make a post using EVERY SINGLE TRENDING HASHTAG AND PHRASE in an attempt to get seen.
This is explicitly against Twitter's rules. Twitter states: "Use hashtags only on Tweets relevant to the topic." - Twitter Page on Hashtags.
As you can see in the above image, there is a "report" option on every post. Users can click that "report" button and let the Twitter administrators know there is a problem. If enough of the community clicks "report" the tweet could be deleted - or the entire account could be suspended. It's not worth it. Don't try to use hashtags that do not apply to the content you're posting.
But there are always ways to APPROPRIATE take advantage of trending topics.
One day I saw that the phrase "New York" was trending. I was delighted! One of my books takes place in New York. So I ran my standard promo for that book -
I got lots of views, clicks, and new followers as a result. So this was a case where I was aware of the trending topic, I took advantage of it, and I did so in a manner that was perfectly in keeping with the topic content.
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