We make fun of people who blindly follow them in the fashion world. But in the digital landscape, trends are the force de rigueur that have the power to elevate your brand from the dreaded “under-a-rock” status, to the cool, current brand that’s constantly sharing the most relevant, newsworthy and topical information for your industry.
Last week, Facebook announced its new tool ‘Signals’, which is aimed at making it easier for journalists to identify and aggregate trending topics on Facebook and Instagram into news stories. It signals (ha) the ever-growing importance of social channels and user-generated content in the aggregation and distribution of traditional ‘news’.
But it’s not just journalists who stand to benefit from these trend identification tools – Marketers, who we’ve often said need to almost be like journalists these days anyway, also need to constantly be on top of what the popular stories, topics, people, events and ideas are at any given moment in time.
Why is it important to keep up with trends?
When you’re creating content online, it pays to be able to keep up with what people are talking about, and where relevant, contribute your brand’s voice to the conversation. As we’ve previously written about, Reactive Marketing requires that companies keep their finger on the (constantly racing pulse) of the digital marketing world in order to be able to create effective, engaging and ideally humorous campaigns on the fly.
In the PPC world, it’s similarly important to keep track of. If you’re interested in doing that effectively, read our previous blog post on responding to competitor trends in search, by Maike Zylowski.
But short of being a fortune-teller, how do we identify these trends, so that we can jump in on the conversation? Sure, it’s great to look over to see which hashtags are already trending on Twitter, but sometimes, you need something a little more powerful. That’s where a few handy tools come in.
A few of the digital trend identification tools we love
While tools of the past such as now-defunct Trendrr, BlogPulse and Trendpedia, a plethora of trend-identification tools have come and gone over the years, leaving behind a few key players that pack a serious punch:
Good old BuzzSumo remains a favourite in the Reef office for its multiple capabilities – From being able to search for a particular keyword and seeing which posts have been written recently that are getting the most social buzz, to identifying the top bloggers and all-round influencers in your industry or location, BuzzSumo is a great way to get a whole lot of good research done from one place.
A relatively new tool in the Reef arsenal, Spike not only identifies current trends, but actually shows you which trends and topics are about to explode by catching them just at the bottom of the curve as it starts to skyrocket upwards. Extremely powerful for catching a trend before everyone else is talking about it.
Another old favourite, Google Trends is still going strong, and while we admit to getting sucked in on occasion and spending too much time browsing general interest topics on there, it’s still one of the best free tools available to look at trend data over time.
Which tools do you like to use to identify trends online?