On Jan. 13, I noticed that #ImFromPhilly was a worldwide trending topic (TT) on Twitter that evening. Huh?

The most retweeted (by 100+ others) was @DoYouKnowDeek who wrote:

#ImFromPhilly where the word “Jawn” can be use 5 times in 1 sentence, but it still makes sense.
Thu Jan 13 2011 17:58:03 (EST) via web
Retweeted by veryfried and 100+ others

He tweeted that at 5:58 p.m. His tweet was the most popular, but it wasn’t what started the trend. (By the way, “jawn” can mean just about anything, such as a place or event, in Philly street lingo.)

I wondered if it had anything to do with an article published in the Philadelphia Inquirer that morning about the way people on Twitter use particular words or acronyms depending on what city or region they are in. For example, CTFU – cracking the f**k up – is popular among certain Twitter users in Philadelphia. I scanned some #ImFromPhilly tweets and saw no evidence of that (and was fairly doubtful anyway). I checked to see if there were a lot of tweets with #ImFromNewYork and there were. I had seen these city battles before and figured something like that was happening again. I was correct, but it had nothing to with New York. So what was going on?

The next day, there was a small story in the Philadelphia Daily News saying that #ImFromPhilly trended worldwide: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/113548164.html. No explanation was given.

I searched Trendistic to see how #imfromphilly played out. Trendistic won’t tell you how a trend started, but it will give you clues. There were no tweets with that hash tag prior to 4 p.m., but after 4 they started popping up. The few given as examples by Trendistic had retweeted something posted by @veryfried, who wrote this at 4:28 p.m.:

#ImFromPhilly #ImFromPhilly #ImFromPhilly #ImFromPhilly#ImFromPhilly #ImFromPhilly #ImFromPhilly if you from Philly, RT #ImFromPhilly!
4:28 PM Jan 13th via Echofon

Her tweets are locked, so I asked to follow her and she agreed. I asked how the trend got started and she replied:

Yeah I started it cause #imfromthedmv was a TT worldwide and I wanted to out-do them and we did :]

The DMV? Department of Motor Vehicles? No, DMV stands for DC-Maryland-Virginia and it’s a term used in hip hop. For more details, see the Urban Dictionary entry.

According to Trendistic, #ImFromTheDMV did trend that afternoon and peaked around 5 p.m. with 0.19 percent of all Twitter traffic.

Just before @veryfried typed #ImFromPhilly over and after, she tweeted this:

Ew why is #imfromthedmv a TT worldwide?! Foh lets get#ImFromPhilly a TT!
4:27 PM Jan 13th via Echofon

@veryfried doesn’t have a huge amount of followers (408 as of this blog post), but she helped her cause by tweeting the hash tag like crazy, sometimes tweeting twice in a minute. This was not unusual Twitter behavior for her. I noticed that she and some of the other promoters of #ImFromPhilly are extremely frequent tweeters. They tweet dozens of times a day. Scrolling through @veryfried’s tweets during any 24 period is quite a journey. I have concluded that #ImFromPhilly became a trending topic because of a core of heavy users were inspired to hit the tweet button over and over. They were helped by popular tweets such as the one posted by @DoYouKnowDeek.

Most of the tweets with the hash tag were about Philadelphia being hardcore, having a badass attitude. They included references to things particular to the city, like the word “jawn.” The trend was about how Philly was special, and you suck.

Around 8 p.m. #ImFromPhilly peaked with 0.3 percent of Twitter traffic, nearly twice that for #ImFromTheDMV.

At 8:01 p.m., @veryfried declared victory:

I made #ImFromPhilly a TT Worldwide!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thu Jan 13 2011 20:01:19 (EST) via Echofon