What the hell is the Twittersphere talking about? Good question.
Among the most amusing (to me, at least) memes in this week's Top 10 Trendiest Twitter Topics chart -- produced, as always, with our editorial partner What the Trend -- are Zac Efron (or "Zac Effron") and Toast (or #toast).
Efron, you may recall (though I hope not), trended most recently in December because of his breakup with his longtime girlfriend (and "High School Musical" co-star) Vanessa Hudgens, but this week he trended because he won the "Favorite Movie Star Under 25 Year" award at the People's Choice Awards. Except it seems that early Twitter well-wishers forgot how to spell his name, so "Zac Effron" hit Twitter's Trending Topics list. Which, of course, prompted amused confusion (e.g., @LiamDSmith: "lol i thought its Zac Efron, not Effron? #EpicFail") and zillions of finger-wagging corrections from hardcore Zac Efron fans. Twitter user @BieberSwagPants nailed it with this tweet: "The reason why Zac Effron is a TT, is because everybody is tweeting about it's misspelled & people correcting it. Like what I'm doing now."
Therre's a marketting leson in therre somewwhere.
And even the simple word "toast" meant totally different things on Twitter this week. If you're a Brit, it probably meant "Toast," a new BBC movie ("An adaptation of Nigel Slater's bestselling memoir, 'Toast' is the ultimate nostalgic trip through everything edible in 1960s Britain"). Slater's a famous British food writer, and in the BBC take on his youth, Helena Bonham-Carter played his stepmother. But Americans and others saw "toast" trending on Twitter and thought it had something to do with, well, toasting -- the New Year, or just random stuff. Thus tweets like this: @antSAIDit: "#toast to everyone who types things into Google to see if you spelled it right."
(Me? I'm a New Yorker, so I propose a #toast to a delicious breakfast: a #toasted #bagel with #creamcheese.)
Anyway, all of this is more evidence that Twitter is just one giant Rube Goldberg representation of the global hivemind.
How is this chart made? See Notes, below.
|Trend||Peak Position This Week||Points||Crowdsourced Description|
|1||New Year's Eve/Day||1||12,085||People are greeting the new year.|
|2||Macaulay Culkin-Mila Kunis||1||3,974||Mila Kunis and Macaulay Culkin broke up.|
|3||People's Choice Awards (TV Show)||1||3,958||People are tweeting about the People's Choice Awards.
Subtrends include: Zac Effron, Peoples Choice Awards
|4||Huckleberry Finn||1||3,925||Because the new edition is removing the 'n' word from the book.|
|5||Brazil Inauguration||1||3,586||Marcela Temer is just-inaugurated Brazilian Vice-President Michel Temer's wife. Tweeters are commenting on Marcela's beauty and outfit and on the difference of age between her (27 years old) and her husband (70 years old). Dilma Roussef is taking her position as the new president of Brazil.
Subtrends include: Marcela Temer, Roussef
|6||Justin Bieber||1||3,571||Justin Bieber fans (Beliebers) are tweeting #TeamBieber on nearly every tweet to stress their love for Justin Bieber.
Subtrends include: #TeamBieber
|7||Toast||1||3,444||Toast, the dramatised version of Nigel Slater's memoir, aired on the BBC. Americans are using #toast to propose virtual toasts to things they like.|
|8||2011||1||3,437||People are tweeting about rules they want to follow in 2011.
Subtrends include: #2011rules.
|9||Pete Postlethwaite||1||3,020||Oscar-nominated actor Pete Postlethwaite has died at the age of 64.|
|10||Gerry Rafferty||1||2,620||The Scottish singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty has died after a long illness at age 63.|
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.
For more information about What the Trend, visit the WTT FAQ. And check out WTT's Week in Review, compiled by its in-house editors and covering an expanded general list of Top 20 trends (including hashtag trends) here.
Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.