The Perfect Storm that led to “Quora” becoming a trending topic

How did Quora finally become a trending topic in SF on Twitter yesterday? It took the following elements:

  • Robert Scoble wrote a blog post about Quora’s impact on blogging.
  • Quora rolled out some new features in late December, such as asking questions via text, via email.
  • This is the 1st holiday break since Quora’s been open. With Twitter at their disposal and the personality types that think a/b work 24/7, Quora provides an interesting “reading room” to catch up and think during the downtime.
  • Steve Case felt comfortable enough to answer a fun question about AOL, which itself became a news story on TechCrunch.
  • Quora staff asked direct questions of some influential people in the startup world, such as MG Siegler; people watch MG for trends and, more importantly, they trust his opinion. (See Instagram.)
  • Recent Quora signups encouraged inviting friends via Facebook Connect, Twitter, and other networks, and new members opted to auto-tweet an announcement that they had signed up, pointing a link to their Quora profile page.

All of these elements combined to create the perfect storm for the word “Quora” to become a trending topic on Twitter. This is notable, because if you read Twitter’s blog entry about how trends are decided, they basically exclude common nouns (e.g. “Facebook” would not trend, normally) unless the volume of mentions of a word within tweets within a certain physical area reach a certain “velocity” that pushes it to the top of their algorithm. Translation: Enough people were tweeting the word “Quora” last night so quickly and retweeting it so fast that it broke through. This is significant.