Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Trendspotting With Social Media

2011: Trendspotting For The Next Decade
is a marketing book by Richard Laermer,
published in 2008.
It’s that time of the year again when blog posts with numbered lists of the top predictions and trends for the year, crowd your Twitter stream. I'm sharing a few here:

1. 2011 Social Media Predictions: Now Social Media Marketing Gets Tough - Forrester blog
2. Trendspotting:  A Top 100 List of Things to Watch in 2011 - ReadWriteWeb
3. 10 Social Media Trends For 2011 - Entrepreneur

But that’s not what this post is about. What it is about, though, is how easy it is for us to now spot trends and tap into what’s hot in real time – all thanks to social media and web metrics.

Let me share a few examples:

1. Once newspapers moved online, for the first time, it became possible to track what people are viewing and commenting on, how much time they spend reading a story and what type of content is popular. Newspapers can now also track how much advertising revenue is being generated from a particular story. (See the New York Times story on this.)

2. In 2008, Google launched Google Flu Trends that uses aggregated Google search data to estimate current flu patterns around the world in near real-time, opening up the possibility of an early-warning system for influenza outbreaks (though the accuracy of the tool has been questioned, this is still representative of all the potential benefits search data can provide us in future.)

3. Facebook was not only the most visited website but also the most popular search term in 2010. Recently, Facebook released its 2010 report that threw up lots of interesting facts and figures, such as:

- Lady Gaga was the most ‘liked’ celebrity of the year with 24,712,169 likes.
- 1,000,000 links were shared over Facebook every 20 minutes
- HMU or ‘Hit Me Up’ was the most-discussed phrase on Facebook in 2010. This was followed by the World Cup and movies (Toy Story 3, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Inception, Alice in Wonderland and Iron Man 2 were the five most discussed movies in 2010.)

I am constantly amazed by the insights and information we now have access to thanks to the Web and social media. It fascinates me that we can tap into what people are saying about a particular subject at any point of time using the Twitter search/ hashtag feature. Unlike traditional print content, it’s possible for us to track what was shared online, how often and on what channel –what piqued someone’s interest, how they got there and whether they found it compelling enough. This presents a great opportunity for marketers, researchers and anyone interested in getting their pulse on popular public activity or opinion.

A tool I find immensely useful for spotting trends on a daily basis is Twitter. When you log in, on the right hand side of your Twitter home page, Twitter displays a list of 10 topics that are trending or most popular at any given time. Sometimes, topics are inane but most often, they help me spot important news items that I may have missed or help me gauge what a majority of the Twitter community is discussing or what’s on top of everyone’s minds on a given day, at a given time. (Lately, I've heard CNN anchors discuss what topics are trending during their news shows.)

Google Hot Trends is a similar tool that gives you a list (updated hourly) of hot topics and hot searches based on the popularity of searches on its engine. Google Analytics can also be a great tool for analyzing trends in how people consume your own content on your blog or Website and help you better customize it based on popularity.

What tools do you use to spot and keep track of latest trends? Share your tips in the comments sections below.


  1. You provide so much good information in this post but I must say I am just reeling from the fact that Lady Gaga received the most likes of anybody/anything. That really puts an interesting perspective on the state of our world!

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Ameena. Glad you found the post informative. FYI, Eminem was a close second with 23.7 million likes and Barack Obama was third with 17 million likes. If Barack Obama shows up in a meat dress at the White House, maybe he will have a chance at rising to the number one spot! :)


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