A Twitterstorm is a sudden spike in activity surrounding a certain topic on the Twitter social media site.
A Twitterstorm is often started by a single person who sends his or her followers a message often related to breaking news or a controversial debate. Using a certain and often original hashtag, the tweet quickly spreads as people are notified of the message and then reuse the hashtag with subsequent retweets and tweets.
When a specific tweet and hashtag are tweeted and retweeted quickly enough, the hashtag is included on Twitter's "trending" list and displayed to all Twitter users, even those who are not a member of the hashtag user's list of followers. This often leads to the original message or hashtag crossing to other social media sites or the mainstream media, resulting in much deeper penetration into the collective conscience.
According to research by Precise, a UK-based business information monitoring group, there are three types of Twitterstorms:
- The perfect Twitterstorm: Starts on Twitter, is picked up by traditional press and through various feedback loops and reaches a wide audience, even those who are not on Twitter.
- The storm in a cup: A story that generates a relatively small interest on Twitter but is picked up by traditional media, so it still garners quite a wide audience. This usually occurs the mainstream media attempts to anticipate online trends before they actually occur.
- The Twitter-only storm: A story that gains a significant volume of attention on Twitter but only might be of interest to a specific group and is not picked up by mainstream media.
A Twitterstorm is an effective way to quickly spread an idea or opinion. It has become a regular part of the repertoire of tools used by advertisers and organizations.