What an amazing week! We all learned that not only did Scarlett Johansson and Ryan Reynolds separate, Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens are kaput, too. (I've spent time with both Scarlett and Zac -- having profiled them for glossy magazines -- and I'd like to take this opportunity to suggest that they should immediately start dating, then mate as soon as possible, creating insanely pretty babies. Hence the Twitter trend I'm starting right now: #ScarZac.)
But to me the amazing part is not the celebrity breakups (yawn), but the fact that they didn't crack our weekly Top 10 Trendiest Twitter Topics chart -- produced, as always, using the proprietary algorithm developed by our editorial partner, What the Trend, which monitors both the rank and duration of every single topic that pops up on Twitter's global Trending Topics chart. Scarlett & Ryan only got to No. 14, and Zac & Vanessa petered out at No. 49. Even the announcement of the Golden Globe nominees (No. 23) and Taylor Swift's 21st birthday on Monday (No. 18) didn't quite cut it.
Why? Because Twitter is, more and more, becoming a gaming platform -- for various games of wit. So up-from-nowhere hashtag trends that inspire a global call-and-response are now, increasingly, crowding out real trends tied to breaking news (celebrity or otherwise).
Yeah, some of these hashtag trends are timely/seasonal, like #IfSantaWasBlack (the most heavily retweeted such tweet at the moment comes from @ghostof_george: "#IfSantaWasBlack Mr. . Clause would still be white"). But other hashtag trends like #InHighSchool and #TextYouGetFromAStalker could have surged at any time of the year. They trend, basically, because somebody suddenly thought of them, other people said clever-ish, risque things in response, prompting other wiseacres to get in on the game. Political incorrectness reigns supreme in the hashtag Olympics, and as other commentators have noted elsewhere, trends like #IfSantaWasBlack tend to start in the African-American community, while the harshest gender-related responses to hashtags like #femalesneedto often come from women (e.g., "#femalesneedto stop acting sloppy when they get too drunk in the club. If you cant handle Patron, don't drink it," and "#femalesneedto Stop taking pics in the bathroom and calling themselves a model").
So there you have it, folks: Twitter: One big comedy club for thumb-typers!
Meanwhile, a few thoughts from my wise colleague Liz Pullen, trend analyst at What the Trend, about other trendy Twitter topics this week:
"Sportswise," says Liz, "people went crazy over the African soccer team Mazembe defeating a South American team, Internacional, to go into the finals of the FIFA Club World Cup. Fans of Super Junior [a globally popular South Korean boy band covered in this column repeatedly throughout the year] came out in force because they didn't win a lot of awards at a recent Korean music awards show, the Golden Disk Awards. KPop fans are incredibly devoted to their favorite vocal groups and they seemed to want to come to their defense."
"And it's interesting to me," Liz continues, "how in the past couple of years, the UFC -- Ultimate Fighting Championship -- has become a rival to the enormously popular wrestling and internationally popular boxing circuit. I think it might have something to do with the regularly scheduled large-scale events and the fact that the fighters are a very international group of athletes."
Remarkably, the UFC (at No. 10) charts higher on our list than the NFL (No. 15) -- though European football (soccer) beat them both, taking the No. 1 spot this week, thanks largely to Mazembe.
|Trend||Peak Position This Week||Points||Crowdsourced Description|
|1||European Soccer/Football||1||7,519||Tweets about various teams, players and matches.|
|2||#femalesneedto||1||3,412||People are tweeting what females need to do or say. Started by @Tahrell.|
|3||#ThingsSomePeopleDontHave||1||3,381||People tweet what others don't have. Skills, abilities, or material possessions.|
|4||#TextYouGetFromAStalker||1||3,221||Text messages you might get from a stalker. A creepy hashtag.|
|5||#InHighSchool||1||3,082||People are explaining what they do when they were in high school.|
|6||#IfSantaWasBlack||1||2,991||People are tweeting comments about Santa, relating to the changed mannerisms, ideas, sayings, clothing and vehicles, if he was of black [i.e. African, African American] skin.|
|7||#frequentlyaskedquestions||1||2,545||People are tweeting questions that are frequently asked by their followers or clients of a businesses, and offering answers to these common conundrums.|
|8||Super Junior||1||2,491||Tweets about South Korean boy band Super Junior.|
|9||#ImSoGlad||1||2,319||People are tweeting about things that make them feel glad. Simple as that.|
|10||UFC||1||2,315||Tweets about various Ultimate Fighting Championship fighters and fights.|
1. WTT tracks the appearance of topics on the Twitter Trending Topics list and each week ranks the subjects with the most cumulative staying power. Explanations of trends are solicited from WTT users, Wikipedia-style; a community-voting system is designed to highlight the best explanations while burying lame or prank explanations.
2. For the purposes of this chart, we collect and process data until 12 midnight EST on Thursday night before each Friday's publication.
3. Ad Age works with WTT to consolidate multiple threads of chatter into one position on the chart when it's clear related Twitter conversations are basically all about the same topic, even if they use different keywords.
4. In WTT's proprietary trend-tracking system, points are awarded for both duration and rank in the top 10 trending topics on Twitter. The longer the duration, and the higher the overall rank, the more points are awarded. Measurements are taken in five-minute increments.
5. The crowdsourced trend explanations above are quoted as they appear on WTT, and therefore may have stylistic and grammatical quirks that don't adhere to normal Ad Age editorial standards.