According to a recent report from Hewlett Packard, the strongest Twitter trends may not be coming from the sources one would imagine. While many would expect trends to start with the typical "influencers" - for example rock stars and Hollywood types - in fact, mainstream media tends to dominate trending topics. 

The company studied a sample of over 16 million tweets last fall, and found that 22 users were the source of most of the trending topic retweets. Of these most influential users, 72 percent were accounts run by traditional and digital media news organizations like CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Huffington Post. 

The common perception is that superstars like Ashton Kutcher and Lady Gaga, who have millions of followers, would be the big trend-starters. In fact, the mainstream and digital media sources named above have much fewer followers, but create more "re-tweets" - the activity that spawns a Twitter trend. 

According to the report, the main determinant of whether a tweet trends is the subject of the tweet, not the popularity of the tweeter. Once again we seem to be reminded that legitimate, earned media content is king. This poses a specific lesson to those looking to gain a tailwind from social media - begin your campaign with mainstream media outlets and then utilize social media to reinforce your message.