On Twitter, Britney Spears Trumps Lady Gaga. And the Super Bowl. And That Bieber Kid. And Egypt

The Top 10 Trending Topics on Twitter This Week

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I'm going to go ahead and jump right to the No. 2 entry on our weekly Top 10 Trending Twitter Topics chart -- produced, as always, with our editorial partner What the Trend. It's the hashtag meme #iDontUnderstandWhy, used to promulgate such musings as @iAmChuckie's "#iDontUnderstandWhy Guys cheat on their Beautiful girlfriends with a female that is ten times uglier ... Why downgrade?" (retweeted more than 1,000 times so far, by Twitter's count). But perhaps you're tempted to tweet "#iDon'tUnderstandWhy Britney Spears was a bigger deal on Twitter this week than Egypt or the Super Bowl." Well, #ReadOn.

  • If you're a regular reader of this Friday charticle, you know that Twitter changed its Trending Topics algorithm last year to reflect topic that are surging in popularity, rather than topics that are continuously popular. In regard to Egypt, it seems that this week the Twittersphere became a bit complacent about sounding off about the political turmoil there, especially given that everyone started to assume that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was on his way out. That is, up until yesterday (our weekly chart cut-off is end of day -- midnight -- Thursday) when he pissed everyone off by not resigning. Now that he's actually resigned -- following Gawker's publication of his shirtless Craigslist self-pic (I kid! It was Deadspin, not Gawker) -- Egypt is surging anew on Twitter, with "Congrats Egypt" on the Trending Topics list as I type this sentence. At any rate, given the timing of yesterday's nonresignation and today's actual resignation, Egypt only managed to reach position No. 16 on the overall chart this week (so it doesn't appear in our Top 10 list, below).
  • Britney Spears, on the other hand, mobilized her fans to tweet about her and her upcoming album so ardently and in so many different ways that she managed to stay in Twitter's Trending Topics, in one form or another, for most of the week. As I've noted in this space many times before, Twitter is all about anticipation. So while a big event like the Super Bowl naturally explodes on Twitter, when it's over it's pretty much done for as a meme within the space of 24 hours. Whereas master pop-cultural marketers like Britney and her team know that you can keep people talking about you pretty much nonstop if you keep feeding them tidbits -- like the "leaked" (back in January) single "Hold It Against Me" (aka #HIAM on Twitter), followed by confirmation of the leaked single's authenticity and release of album-cover art, followed by word about a music video in the works, followed by the serial release of brief promotional snippets for that video (seven different ones so far!), not to mention word about when that music video will make its debut (Feb. 17 on MTV, just before a new episode of "Jersey Shore") and when the full album, "Femme Fatale," will go on sale (Mar. 29). And that's not even the half of it.
  • Oh, hey, before I forget: Happy Born This Way Friday! (It's a bank -- and club -- holiday in Gaylandia.) Yes, Lady Gaga finally released her new single "Born This Way" this morning (as foreshadowed on Twitter by #bornthiswayfriday) -- and now people are also tweeting about the similarity between it and Madonna's "Express Yourself." In fact, as I type this sentence, "Congrats Egypt" has fallen out of Twitter's Trending Topics and now "Express Yourself" is trending along with "#bornthiswayfriday." Priorities! Oh well, I guess #TwitterWasBornThatWay.
  • So just to review, today Mubarak resigned, Gaga dropped a familiar-sounding single, and -- oh, right -- Justin Bieber's "Never Say Never" movie debuts. Liz Pullen, trend analyst at What the Trend, tells me that she was entertained this week by "friction between Bieber fanatics and Gaga's Little Monsters. Since mid-January, Bieber was getting his fans to count down the days until his movie came out and, about half the time, they got it to trend." For example, #10days, #9days, #8days, etc. (For more on that marketing strategy, click here.) But Pullen says she noticed that four days ago, Gaga fans were using #4days on Twitter to count down to the release of "Born This Way," which pissed off the Beliebers -- and the tension continued as the week went on. "I've seen Bieber vs. Jonas and Demi vs. Selena," says adds. "Now it's Gaga vs. Britney and Gaga vs. Bieber." It remains unclear where the White House and the Egyptian military stand on all of this.

How is this chart made? See Notes, below.

Trend Peak Position This Week Points Crowdsourced Description
1 Britney Spears 1 12,494 Britney Spears announced that her 7th studio album is titled "Femme Fatale" and will be released on March 29. Britney fans are thanking her for everything she means to their lives.
Subtrends include: Femme Fatale, ThanksBritney, HIAMVidTeaser (see whatthetrend.com for a complete list)
2 #iDontUnderstandWhy 1 7,970 People are tweeting about the things that they don't understand.
3 Super Bowl 1 5,338 Tweets about the big game
See whatthetrend.com for a complete list of subtrends.
4 Lady Gaga 2 5,321 Lady Gaga revealed that her newest single, "Born This Way" would be released on Friday, Feb. 11 -- and it was. 8MillionMonsters is a reference to @ladygaga surpassing 8 million Twitter followers.
Subtrends include: BornThisWayFriday, 8MillionMonsters, GagaIsBeautiful, Gaga8Million, GagaComeToBrazil (see whatthetrend.com for a complete list)
5 Justin Bieber 1 5,241 Justin Bieber's docu-movie detailing his rise to fame, titled "Never Say Never" [in both 2D and 3D], hits theaters on Friday, Feb. 11.
Subtrends include: #bieberpremiere (see whatthetrend.com for a complete list)
6 #ScariestWordsEver 1 3,603 Users are tweeting words/phrases that would be the scariest to ever hear.
7 UFC 1 3,455 Tweets about various Ultimate Fighting Championship fighters and matches
See whatthetrend.com for a complete list of subtrends.
8 European Soccer/Football 1 2,804 Tweets about various teams, players and matches
See whatthetrend.com for a complete list of subtrends.
9 #IfYouReallyLovedHer 1 2,750 Lovers are tweeting suggestions or ideas about how to impress their female partner. Ex-lovers are telling stories of what they would have done to keep the relationship alive.
10 Carmen Aristegui Firing 1 2,310 Carmen Aristegui, Mexican journalist, was fired from news station Noticias MVS, because of some comments regarding the alcoholism of Mexican President Felipe Calder´┐Żn.
See whatthetrend.com for a complete list of subtrends.

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.

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