The Million Dollar Question: How to Create Valuable Content that Drives Trends on Twitter?

Rose Horowitz
6 min readFeb 11, 2020


I was honored and thrilled to be a guest on Madalyn Sklar’s #Twittersmarter chat on 1/30 to talk about this important topic. My tips? Sharing them here!

Image Created by Madalyn Sklar

First of all, what is a Twitter chat? It’s an online conversation that uses a hashtag related to a topic and often features a guest. It’s usually one hour long and is scheduled at the same time once a week. The host asks questions and the guest and everyone else who is “listening” and following the #hashtag for the chat may comment. It’s a cool way to learn new things, engage with interesting people, increase the number of your followers, and amplify your presence on an important platform, Twitter.

Madalyn Sklar has been hosting her #TwitterSmarter chat since 2015. We follow each other on Twitter. To my delight, she asked me to be a guest.

What was it like?

Fast, furious, and fun!

Generally, several hundred people participate in Madalyn’s one-hour #TwitterSmarter chat on Thursdays at 1 p.m. ET. #TwitterSmarter is one of the most popular chats on #socialmedia marketing and reaches 10 million people each week, according to Madalyn Sklar.

During the chat, I was responding to Madalyn’s questions as well as answering questions (why is this tweet looping and what do I do?), commenting on responses from participants, and tweeting my responses to eight questions. Shout out: Madalyn Sklar’s chat is well-organized and she has several people online who help respond to tweets.

How did I manage the hour and finish with my sanity intact? I found that if I kept refreshing my feed on the hashtag, I could track tweets from those joining the chat, comment on their posts and respond to those responding to my answers. Complicated. I used my phone to follow Sklar’s Twitter page to spot when she asked an #Icebreaker question and posted a Q & A with AgoraPulse. My Number 1 priority: to see and answer each of her questions as she posted them in the next 50 minutes or so. Plus, I aimed to add engagement to my posts by using short videos of myself waving hello, selfie GIF’s (I used GIPHY to make them), and images. Timing was also everything: I wanted to be the first to respond to each of Madalyn’s questions.

At about midway in the hour, my computer froze when I tried to add a video from an interview as part of my answer. When I got the computer working again (it felt like a long time but it was only a few minutes), I used an image to go along with my answer rather than the video!

Here’s a recap of her questions and my answers. I’d love to hear your input.

Q1: What does it mean to trend on Twitter? #TwitterSmarter

A1a: Your feed explodes!

People start retweeting you, responding, & tagging colleagues & friends. It keeps snowballing!

True story: After a class at the Y, I read a tweet I couldn’t believe about how men dominate #socialmedia. I responded with a hashtag I created that began “Let’s get this #Twitter party started! I will name three smart women to follow with hashtag #womentofollow: Soraya Chemaly, Jen Benka, Michelle Raphael…” 👇. #TwitterSmarter

A1b: The tweet had legs, people in different fields named #WomentoFollow💃. Analytics on the hashtag showed a reach of 12 million in 2 weeks.

In a blog for @GenderAvenger, I wrote about how the #WomentoFollow hashtag launched a movement. #TwitterSmarter

Q2: How do you set yourself up to start a trend on Twitter? #TwitterSmarter

A2: Be current: follow interesting people & trends on Twitter & news sites, so you’re smart enough to see what’s worthy of your attention!💡

Focus: The Twitter universe is huge — pick 5 areas that intrigue you. Payoff? You’ll soon know enough to comment wisely.🎯#TwitterSmarter

Q3: What should you avoid if you’re trying to create a trend on Twitter? #TwitterSmarter


1. Never retweet anything you haven’t read. You don’t want to start a trend with false information.

2. This is even more essential when you don’t “know” the person.

3. Be sure to check their Twitter profile & read 5–7 tweets. Credibility is everything. #TwitterSmarter

Q4: How valuable is it for a brand to trend on Twitter? #TwitterSmarter

A41. Invaluable! #WomentoFollow launched a movement to amplify women’s voices on #socialmedia. I’ve heard @ReignofApril tell story of how she was the first to tweet #OscarsSoWhite during the 2015 Oscars. Tremendous impact. April Reign👇🏾#TwitterSmarter

A42: Consumers increasingly care about issues & values of brands. Check this:

When Citi found its female employees earned 29% less than their male counterparts, it started a conversation with #itsabouttime. #TwitterSmarter

Q5: What are some alternative ways to increase your reach without trending? #TwitterSmarter


-Be generous. The beauty of Twitter is that it’s democratic. To do well, share valuable content. You’ll be rewarded by people sharing your tweets.

-Follow interesting accounts.

-See who those accounts follow & follow them. (TY to #socialmedia expert Sree Sreenivasan) #TwitterSmarter

Q6: Should you jump on an existing trend? #TwitterSmarter

A61: If you do, jump in early. Mushroom effect. Find another angle on the trend — zig when everyone is zagging. Great example — When no women directors were nominated for best director trended, I looked at more #entertainment publications. #TwitterSmarter

A62: Found this news: 4 out of 5 films nominated for Best Documentary were co-directed by women. Checked facts, looked for handles of women nominated, their nationalities, took screenshots of art for each film and tagged 10 people. Tweet has had …45.7K impressions. #TwitterSmarter

Q7: Is there a secret formula to writing a trending tweet or article? #TwitterSmarter

A7 Not that I know of YET! But you’ll be poised to post a tweet that trends if you are collecting & generating good content, show smart news judgment, & are savvy about what’s trending. In writing articles or blogs, discover something no one else is covering, or do an interview with an author, and tweet live from an event. #TwitterSmarter

Q8: What should you do if your tweet or article starts trending on Twitter? How do you capitalize on it? #TwitterSmarter


  1. If you hit it right and start a hashtag trend, run with it. Invest in what you started. See who has liked and retweeted you and check out their Twitter feed. Show them your love. It’s a great way to find out about new people that you might not have known about. If you find a tweet on their feed that’s worthy of a like, retweet, or comment, do it. You might end up with a whole new community that is interested in you and what you are writing about or promoting. ENGAGE!

2. Luck happens, engagement is work.

Trying to figure out how to gain more traction on Twitter? Find me on @Medium or Rose Horowitz.

Watch for #WomentoFollow profiles from Rose Horowitz.

Click here to see the #WomentoFollow Twitter list curated by @heykiddo. It’s now 1,500 strong.



Rose Horowitz

Pulitzer-nominated Journalist. Founder & Host, #WomenToFollow Published: @nytimes @forbes