Twitter needs a ‘rising trends’ function

I’m just not that interested in joining a Twitter conversation about #Toronto on purpose. It’s my city, yes, so don’t worry, Toronto, this is not about you, it’s about me. Twitter reminds me of the top trends every time I check the geo-targeted section on my homepage. There it is: ‘#Toronto’. Everyday it’s there in my ‘what’s trending’ on Twitter.

In fact, as I quickly scTwitteran the things that my region is talking about: New York, #music, NEVER, #Toronto… I feel a FOMO creep in. *Slow Clap* I’m so eager to jump into a conversation about #music *sarcasm meter*.

Why can’t Twitter generate a list of topical trends around me that I can jump into that are actually interesting or relevant to me? Why does it only have to be based on a keyword tweeted enough times to become ‘trending’? Apparently #music is something people tweet on the reg.

What do people want to achieve when they go on to shout something in the Twitterverse? Well, a lot of them just want to complain or tell you about their ham sandwich, or generate nails-on-chalkboard-worthy grammatically-abysmal tweets about ‘loving some singer dude’.

But, some of us, like me, want to jump into conversations that are sprouting up around the world. And there are a few good examples that Twitter can learn from.

Some great social networks do this already (if you call my first example, Wikipedia, a social network – it’s more or less a social space). Wikipedia’s ‘random article’ function takes you to no place you’ve ‘pedia’ed before… something you wouldn’t have conceived in your wildest dreams as being a potential piece of interest. First, you’re on the homepage, then… boom! You are transported to a page about Harry Forestell, a Canadian journalist and news anchor. I’ll never stumble upon that again.

One could argue that the random article function isn’t tailored to your needs or wants, unless I argue that my need/want is to see something I’ve never seen before. I’ve just learned something new and am now lost in the pedia-verse of hyperlinks; my next itching to click on the ‘random article’ button is moments away.

YouTube Trends is another good example of finding great new content that isn’t mainstream yet. YouTube created their own website using blogspot where they calculate the virality of a video by its growing views over a short period of time. The result? You come across videos that are on the brink of getting big – and you discover them before a lot of your friends. The same goes for Viral Video Chart and other websites like Reddit that help you to stumble on a type of crowdsourced content that will intrigue and build your curiosity.

Even Google News search brings in the top articles around the world – but I have to go there first to think about a search query to input into Twitter if I want to see discussion on a piece of news. Twitter has such potential to be a curator but doesn’t use it. I rarely check my trends for something new or trendy… how ironic. Twitter is instant, and their ownership of blossoming conversation should be too.

Despite this small rant, Twitter is my favourite social network because it connects you, instantly, to things going on in the world, and the reaction is real-time. During the earthquake along the East coast a few summers ago, we joked in our ad agency that Twitter moved faster than the earthquake because as soon as the ground started trembling, the tweets from NYC were streaming in. #earthshattering

But the earthquake news didn’t show up in my Twitter trends until later.

I guess we could sum this all up as a #quakefail.

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