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Whatever devices you use to access Twitter, the trends feature is one of the most useful ways of seeing what's going on in the world - especially outside your own contacts. Your followers will always see your posts, regardless of hashtags, but using hashtags and phrases that are trending expands your reach, so it’s a good idea to keep up to date with them when you can.

Just as we use #HertsHour to sort that specific weekly conversation, the same is true of trending phrases and topics all the time, around the world.

Your first task is to find Trends, which pop up all over the place, but usually with the search icon.

Your trends are not always the same as everyone else's. They're tailored based on who you follow and your location, although world and local news events ignore personalisation.The Twitter algorithm finds topics popular in real time, so they’ll be constantly changing.

Next to Trends, there’s an income that says ‘Change’, where you can change location and see different hot topics. The list of locations there reflects places with the most interesting topics and hashtag discussions, so that changes, too.

Clicking any of the trends takes you to the Twitter search results using that particular phrase or hashtag. Of course, you can always search for any hashtag or topic key word.

Don’t be tempted to try playing Twitter at its own game - it won't work and these are some of the things it really hates when people try to get topics trending higher than they deserve:

  • using a trending phrase or hashtag but not adding anything new to the discussion
  • using hashtags that don't relate to your tweet to try to make yourself appear in popular lists
  • linking with a hashtag to something unrelated
  • finding popular topics and just tweeting about them regularly to drive traffic to your profile
  • using topics or hashtags to advertise
  • Asking for retweets when discussing topics or using hashtags. In fact, everyone hates seeing 'Pls RT' all the time now