Jun 25, 2014

Tools for Tracking Trends

Imagine coming to the United States from a foreign country and making your first trip to Walmart. There are 20+ different types of spaghetti sauce and hundreds of varieties of soda. You could spend hours searching for the right food or drink to suit your tastes. This often parallels the world of internet trends. The endless ways to find trends from Twitter and Google can be overwhelming and may discourage you from using them at all. Here are some tips on how to navigate the immense realm of trends.
In the bottom left corner of the home page of your Twitter account there is a list of trending topics. These vary anywhere from popular culture to worldwide sports and may or may not include hashtags. You can tailor these trends to your geographical area or to the entire country. There is even an option to adapt trends to your own personal profile based on the companies you follow, the material you retweet and the hashtags you use. Much of the time, the specific topics will seem irrelevant. For example, most of the topics trending in Pittsburgh the past few days center on the show Teen Wolf because it premiered this week. If your business is a restaurant or an event planning firm, your target audience probably does not care about Teen Wolf. However, you can look at as a way to stay on top of what TV shows are popular at the moment. For instance, Orange is the New Black premiered on Netflix just a few weeks ago. This show took the country by storm as numerous people were talking about it, even those that don’t watch the show. Your business could have joined the Twitter conversation by integrating the show into your Tweets. For example, “Caught up on your #OITNB binge? Stop by…..” Today Twitter is buzzing about Michael Jackson, whose death shook the music industry five years ago today. Finding topics that most of the country is paying attention to can increase social media traffic and awareness for your business. An example of this from a large company comes from a tweet from Oreo during the 2013 Super Bowl. When the power went out in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Oreo’s advertising agency developed an image to be tweeted with the tagline, “You can Still Dunk in the Dark.” This image went viral and may have reached just as many people as the Super Bowl commercial it spent millions on.
Google offers a similar resource called Google Trends. It works in a similar way to Twitter but gives the user the ability to research trends based on specific interests. For example, there are categories for Business and Politics, Lifestyle, Entertainment, etc. These categories are then broken down even further into subcategories. For this reason, Google trends can be over stimulating. It is important to realize what your goal is when dealing with trends. If it is to grab the attention of the general public then look into entertainment and find out who and what people are searching for. If your business is more specialized toward a specific industry such as finance, fashion, sports or travel then you should be able to find what is trending in that industry.
There are various websites that allow you to search trending Twitter topics or find out what people are talking about. However, these websites can result in an information overload and can dilute the topics that are actually trending. The information provided by Twitter and Google is enough to understand the people are interested in. From there it is important to conduct further research on the trend to make sure your target audience will connect with the information you are giving them.

Jun 19, 2014

Tackling Trends: 3 Tips on Using the World Cup Buzz to Promote Your Business

This past winter was one of the coldest and snowiest winters in recent memory for much of the United States. We saw temperatures drop below zero and snowfall rise above a foot. These miserable three months (or four for Pittsburghers) were branded by the media as the legendary “polar vortex.” Local news stations relished in the increased interest in the weather and late-night talk show hosts delivered endless jokes using cold weather as a punch line. For this reason, the cold weather became a trend. Topics that trend are universally relatable on multiple levels and encompass a majority of the public’s attention. Therefore, it is important for businesses to take advantage of trending topics by integrating into their promotional strategies.
What most of the general public does not realize is that winters like this happen every so often just as category 5 hurricanes and F5 tornadoes. However, when these things happen, people are drawn to the buzz that everybody else is talking about. Now that the cold weather is over and the sun (or rain for Pittsburghers) is swelling the skies, the media must find a new movement to latch onto. As many are aware of, this has come from the 2014 FIFA World Cup. 
Since this event encompasses most of the world and brings day-to-day action, it gives businesses an even greater opportunity to take advantage of a pop culture trend. Whether your business is directly relevant to the sport or not, here are a few ways to tailor your promotion to the World Cup fever:
1.      Use the World Cup to Theme Advertising. Although most small businesses do not begin with the advertising budget of World Cup sponsors Volkswagen and Adidas, both have used players and/or countrys’ flags in order to connect with fans, you can still incorporate similar elements into your advertising strategy in a smaller budget.  Below Volkswagen has integrated the release of its new Golf hatchback by painting the Bosnian Flag on it and using the tagline “Goooooooolf” instead of the well-known “Gooooal!” Adidas applied a similar strategy in its “The Dream: all in or nothing” commercial by employing Argentina’s Lionel Messi delivering an inspirational message. You can adopt similar strategies for your small business by integrating soccer themes onto flyers or creating videos to post on your website or social media pages.

2.      Apply Incentives for World Cup Supporters. If your business is a bar, restaurant, or store that sells athletic apparel offer discounts on specific items. For example, if the US wins Sunday’s game against Portugal you will take a percentage off of a menu or store item. This tactic can also be used to invite people to your bar or restaurant to watch the game. Social media websites can help promote incentives. 

3.   Join the Social Media Discussion. Support your team by talking about it on social media. Use relevant hashtags (#worldcup, #Brazil2014) and post during the games to show your support. This will gain the appreciation of World Cup followers and increase your overall reach. However, you should not post irrelevant material during game time as your World Cup fan followers will be unlikely to pay attention to it.

Trends are perpetual cycles used as stimulating devices by the media and by business alike. It is important for small business owners to stay up-to-date with what’s trending in popular culture in order to best connect with their target audiences. Google trends lists its most popular searches on a variety of topics from entertainment to politics. Twitter applies a similar strategy by listing its most popular trends of the moment. While using pop culture trends can be advantageous, it is important to maintain a connection to the interests of your core target audience.