On the right side of Twitter’s user interface (at least, on your laptop) is, what should be, a marketer’s dream. The “What’s Happening” section can almost be considered the pulse of what the Twitter community is talking about and engaging with on the platform at any given moment globally, nationally, and locally. As a marketer, these topics can help us create smart, trending, on-point content for users to engage with and gain awareness and followers for our brands.
If only it was as simple as that. Unfortunately, this section as seen its fair share of controversy, particularly in the last few years. The section has, at times, been taken over by QAnon conspiracy theorists and misinformation campaigns funded by foreign governments. As a general rule in branding and brand placement, Q+M recommends to its clients to, you know, not be associated with these kinds of things.
It’s to the point that when our content team is writing copy for our clients that will end up on Twitter, we go out of our way to make sure that what we write couldn’t possibly be misinterpreted by Twitter’s algorithm and end up as posts associated with stories in the What’s Happening section. Even if the copy doesn’t really have anything to do with celebrity death hoxes (it’s a thing), simply having copy that might get it into the list of posts related to the trending topic might paint a brand in a very negative light.
If there’s any hope for the morass that’s become the What’s Happening section on Twitter, it’s that the platform is finally taking action to address some of its pitfalls. As The Verge recently reported, Twitter will soon begin posting explanations explaining why some hashtags and stories are being featured in the section. Twitter explained in a blog post that these descriptions will be generated by the company’s curation teams, and will strictly adhere to the platform’s guidelines. This is truly fantastic news for not just brands, but all users of the platforms. Well, I guess the conspiracy theorists won’t be stoked, but boo them anyway, right?
Will this move completely remove conspiracy theories and hoaxes from the platform? That’s unlikely. However, these clarifications and descriptions of why posts are trending will greatly reduce the risks that brands face when sharing content on Twitter. Over time, Twitter is a fantastic platform to find and engage your brand’s niche audience. With this new change to the What’s Happening section, brands can feel much safer from having an errant tweet end up in the same space as content that has the potential to ruin a brand’s reputation.