On Twitter, Making a Wedding Hashtag Trend

September 9th, 2012

Jason E. Miczek/Miczekweddings.Com

NO GIFT WRAP Friends conspired to make the wedding of Gretchen and Bill Voth in North Carolina a sensation on Twitter.

IT started, as many crazy ideas do, with too much whiskey at the bachelor party. That’s when a groomsman, Ed Dale Jr., decided to create the Twitter hashtag #massewedding and enlist the wedding party, plus as many guests and vendors as possible, to tweet, he said, “about every two minutes” on the day his childhood friend Bryan Masse married Jill Solilak in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

With attention to detail a wedding planner might envy, Mr. Dale texted guests; reminded them in person as they arrived for the Aug. 6, 2011, ceremony; and messaged television stars including Jimmy Fallon and Kim Kardashian, hoping for a retweet.

The celebrities did not respond, but Mr. Dale achieved his goal: to win the Twitter popularity contest known as trending.

“It felt like something we could do that was once-in-a-lifetime special,” Mr. Dale, 25, said of the effort.

Mr. Masse, 25, who does not have phone numbers for some of his friends but communicates via Twitter direct message, said the hashtag’s trending “was just supercool.”

He added: “I’m a pretty chill person and if anything huge happens I try to downplay it. When the photographer told us” — he had set up his phone to receive alerts — “I actually hugged Ed and we all stood up and cheered.”

What to get the social-media savvy couple who have everything (including all the Facebook “likes” they could ever need)? Increasingly, pals are pitching in to try to make a wedding hashtag trend locally.

(Last year’s British royal wedding was the only one ever to trend internationally; only televised weddings like Ms. Kardashian’s last year and a fictional one on the show “Gossip Girl” tend to trend nationally.)

Twitter does not track local or personalized trends and has no way to search them historically (if it happens, take a screenshot, pronto), said Alexandra Valasek, a spokeswoman. But judging by a search of “wedding trending” plus the requests for help in celebrity Twitter feeds, the trend is, well, trending.

“My best friends are getting gay married. @billmaher will you rt? You can come but there’s no more chicken paillard. #weddingofthecentury,” tweeted @ScottDuquette, who also appealed to Joan Rivers and Ellen Barkin. None responded, though trend-seekers take note: the company’s algorithm favors sheer numbers of people using the hashtag, meaning Grandma’s tweet is as helpful as, say, Lady Gaga’s.

Success is easier in a town than in a city, because the change in ratio of users talking about a topic is what makes it trend, Ms. Valasek said.

“We thought maybe we could do it because what else would be going on,” said Jason Burt, 30, whose successful scheme to make #chopchop #lozanowedding trend in the Detroit suburb Northville, Mich., included reminding friends with dormant Twitter accounts how to use the service. (“Chop-chop” is a refrain of the groom, Carlos Lozano, who is early everywhere.)

The online popularity crown is unlikely to replace traditional presents, but couples prize it because it can’t be registered for, much less bought, and asking for it would be like requesting a surprise party.

“I think I wanted to ask for it but I didn’t,” Burt Herman, 39, said of e-mails he sent to guests that included the hashtag for his Feb. 19 wedding. (Mr. Herman, a founder of Storify, had created the hashtag because he planned to use his company’s narrative-building platform to assemble a social media wedding album.)

Making a hashtag trend is delicate business, especially if the couple learn a campaign is on.

“It’s their day: you don’t want to disappoint them or have them feel bad if no one responds,” said Ari Brock, 35, who debated starting an effort via his best man’s speech at the Oct. 9, 2011, wedding of Aaron Snyder, 34, and Jamie Light, 30.

The couple met on Twitter in 2009, when the groom noticed the bride’s consistently funny missives when he searched the Los Angeles Dodgers hashtag. Mr. Brock feared not enough guests were on Twitter, so he asked the company if it might honor the tweethearts. Jack Dorsey, a founder, obliged: “@JamieLight and @asnyd may you always follow each other.”

Gretchen and Bill Voth, who married in Charlotte, N.C., on June 18, 2011, are obsessed with Twitter, said Mr. Voth, 33, a social media consultant who sent missives while waiting near the altar. But the ceremony was distraction enough that the pair did not learn of Operation Trend until #vothwedding made the list.

“We had nothing to do with its initiation or even feeding the beast,” said Ms. Voth, 31. “We got to sit back and watch the public display of love.”

The hashtag trending, she added, “was one of the best, most unique gifts our friends could give us.”

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