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.

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