Psychologists tell us that trend-following stems from the need for efficiency. That, sometimes, rather than go through the intricacies of the process, we rely on the behaviors of other people like us to shape our own. If many people are of a certain opinion about a product, service, or experience, there must be something to it, right? This applies to commodities and conversations alike.
Simple, as it is, this reasoning can have immense implications to businesses today. And we have nine ways to use trending topics found online to your advantage!
Trending Topics on Google and Twitter
We live in an age that facilitates trends and trend-following. Primarily, the action takes place on search engines and social media. By watching these two avenues, brands can find out the trending topics and consequently discern behavior shifts in the market.
Let us take, for instance, two popular platforms: Google for search, and Twitter for social media.
Google makes it extremely easy for users to understand what is going on in the world. If you don’t know the meaning of something, who someone is, or a procedure, this is one of the most convenient places to learn.
And every year, the search engine compiles a list of trending topic queries based on search term volume of the current year compared to the previous. It reveals the queries that have been most popular with users across various categories including news, sports, entertainment, food, and people. Further, the topics can be sorted geographically, and you can also look up specific topics. Why don’t you give it a spin?
And then we have the social side on things, with trending topics on Twitter.
Social media provides a platform for people to exchange ideas. And this is crucial to trend-starting and following. Twitter takes a slightly different approach from Google in revealing trends
On the blog, there is the category Insights with a byline that reads “Unlocking the power of Twitter data” and this is where the platform shares trends as they appear throughout the year. For instance, there are blog posts reflecting trends in gaming, music, social intelligence, and many other topics, including how companies use data. Late last year, Twitter published 2021 #OnlyOnTwitter highlighting the top activities on the platform during the previous 12 months: Most Liked and Retweeted tweets, most Tweeted emojis, sporting events, most discussed TV shows, music, and more.
Such breakdowns as offered by Google and Twitter can give you a starting point for your trending topics analysis. But it’s only a start.
How to Use Trending Topics
There are many different ways that trending topics apply to your brand planning, and we will explain how to use them to:
- Attract new customers
- Understand product demand
- Demonstrate customer centricity
- Improve consumer perception
- Influence media coverage
- Identify potential influencers
- Pacify emerging detractors
- Avert potential crises
- Gauge the competitive environment
Before we discuss the 9 ways you can use trending topics to your advantage, let’s review a few noteworthy statistics:
- Internet users are 71% more likely to purchase a product when referred on social media. By comparison, the probability is only 7% if they aren’t referred.
- More than 9 in 10 consumers call out brands on social media.
- During a survey conducted by Twitter, 77% of the respondents said they felt more positively for brands that tried to support society at the time of COVID-19 crisis.
1. Attract New Customers
Consumers drive conversations. So you can be sure that for any trending topic, those behind it are people who at one time or another are going to buy this or that commodity. What remains to ask is, “Is this the right crowd?”
Once you are certain that the ongoing discussion is relevant to your business, you can then figure out a way to get your brand noticed. The word “attract” is very intentional. On this point, we are not saying to go out and aggressively push your products amidst a conversation. This is more like wooing potential customers, based on trending topics of conversation.
You can do this by making a genuine contribution to the discussion, without even plugging your business. This may involve giving a helpful tip, accepting a challenge, making a meme, retweeting a resonant post, or sharing information on a trending topic that resonates with your audience.
View this post on Instagram
2. Understand Product Demand
Being aware of what users are talking about can help you understand why certain products or product categories are in demand or falling out of favor. With this insight, you can improve, create, or change your product offerings.
In a recent NetBase Quid LIVE event Shelina Taki, Senior Director of Strategic Planning and Insights at PMG, gave a beautiful illustration of this. Taki revealed to the audience that her team had used social listening to understand the 90’s-themed trend that has prevailed since the time since the pandemic started. It turned out that movement restrictions, enhanced human connections, and the coming of age of millennials all contributed to evoke feelings of nostalgia and consequently a drive them to recreate an earlier time. According to Taki’s discovery, this ultimately translated to over 2.2 trillion potential impressions for brands that were engaging with the nostalgia trend.
3. Demonstrate Customer Centricity
Customer centricity is how brands creates satisfaction in a customer base by demonstrating that the business revolves around them. Everything from the product development to delivery – with specific focus on the experiences throughout. Few things get people excited like customer centricity. Consumers say so themselves.
Much can be discerned from the success of Netflix’s Squid Games, but one of the greatest insights is the focus on the consumer. Written for the global audience, delivered right on time (Halloween), and offering immense entertainment value… What more could one ask for? Yet, from looking at social conversations around the series, it seems there was much left to be desired.
NetBase Quid’s Deryn Russel and Bryce Lednar revealed the nuances of the conversation during NetBase Quid LIVE, along with ideas to help demonstrate customer centricity: The dubbing issue; the mental impact of watching; character development; similar shows, and more. This does not diminish the 111 million households that tuned-in, nor the $900 million in revenue, but you can see that there is always room for improvement – and continuous consumer intelligence reveals it all.
Trending topics offer you a chance to demonstrate your focus on the consumer to both your existing customer base and prospects.
4. Improve Consumer Perception
Trending topics can help you get rid of some preconceptions existing among consumers and improve your brand perception. A lot can change during the time when a user goes from the thought that your social media handle is just some brand trying to sell its products to realizing, “hey, there are real people behind this.”
For instance, when Simone Biles – one of the top trending personalities in 2021 – withdrew from the finals to focus on her mental health, one (a brand) could have quickly chimed in with posts themed around mental health. But good as that may have been, it turned out that the discussion barely lasted a week. If you used social listening, you discovered that fans were more excited about her comeback. Hence, talking about that gave your brand more exposure, not to mention a higher score on sentiment.
Making history. Always. @Simone_Biles ties the record for the most Olympic medals won by a U.S. gymnast. #TokyoOlympics pic.twitter.com/4lXZ6waUeQ
— Team USA (@TeamUSA) August 3, 2021
The essence is that it paints a picture of a brand that uses social media just like any normal human being.
5. Influence Media Coverage
The media is also scouring the internet for interesting topics and businesses are often well-positioned to offer context and give credibility to the stories. When popular conversations are right in your wheelhouse, that’s your moment to shine in the media. There are various ways to get media coverage and one of the best is through data.
Beck Bamberger, Founder and CEO of BAM, explains that using data they already have, businesses can get earned media coverage if they know the process. According to Bamberger, there are three prerequisites: The proper pitching framework, criteria for what constitutes desirable coverage, and the right data for the story.
And it doesn’t hurt to have the ability to track down top reporters in a category – and see how much engagement their stories receive on a given topic:
6. Identify Potential Influencers
Social media trending topic conversations can also bring to your attention potential influencers for your brand. You will spot them by their popularity with the audience – and they might already appear to be in love with your brand as well!
You can sort influencers by any number of characteristics beyond engagement to create a super niche list, including interests, geography and even professions:
Social listening can reveal who is driving the conversation around your market and/or brand. You can also determine the potential value of cultivating the relationship and bringing them onboard before you reach out to them. And afterwards, tracking how effective they are isn’t very challenging in the right consumer and market intelligence tool.
7. Pacify Emerging Detractors
Trending topic conversations can bring detractors to the surface where they can be seen, addressed, and hopefully converted.
We have a perfect example of this: Dogecoin has been riding high. On search, it was one of the top five queries under the News category on Google global trends.
It is also one of the most popular trending topics on social media, particularly on Twitter where dogecoin boasts Elon Musk as one of its top Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs). And how did it come about? The engineers behind the cryptocurrency created it as a joke poking fun at the wild speculation in digital currencies at the time. It is evident that the meme coin not only pacified detractors of cryptocurrency (following the controversy surrounding other coins) but also managed to amass a huge following.
Brand detractors can deal a serious blow to your business. Whether caused by your mistakes or misunderstandings, it is necessary to quell detracting emotions as early as possible. If you are Dogecoin, you might even create a multi-billion asset in the process. Get a handle on who they are as part of your planning process, for sure.
8. Avert PR Crises
Closely related to problems created by brand detractors are other PR crises such as accidents, disease outbreaks, product failures, staff mess-ups, scandals, and technological issues. The list of possible crises is always too long. Luckily, the same avenue that stokes up a crisis can also help quench it.
Through social listening, you can safeguard your brand from potential PR crises by getting ahead of problems. If they do happen, real-time reports can allow you the opportunity to respond appropriately and prevent further damage. A hashtag snapshot of multiple channels gives you a quick understanding of the trending topics conversation happening on each channel, so you know where to respond – and how. For example, the conversation looks pretty different on Twitter, with a focus on customer service and hiring practices – it could be something to get ahead of:
And this is what effective crisis management looks like. It means, you are the first to know when it happens; you understand your brand exposure; you know how to respond; you can measure the effect of your response; and you can determine your vulnerabilities that may be open to exploitation by competitors.
9. Gauge Competitive Environment
The public conversation happening on the internet can be useful to your business in more ways than one – nine so far, in fact, as we are keeping count. Don’t underestimate the amount of knowledge you can gain about the competitive landscape just from actively listening to audience discussions.
Competitive analysis during peak conversations can reveal your brand position in the market, your share of audience, your share of voice, and net sentiment compared to your competitors. And knowing when that peak posting time is matters:
Remember, the same can be said of your competition in relation to you. It’s a matter of what inferences you gain from the knowledge provided by social intelligence.
Knowledge is one of the scarcest resources in the economy. To savvy marketers and businesses, trending topics offer a insider’s look into the dynamics of the market. By interpreting popular conversations, they reveal opportunities which are less than obvious to outsiders.
And robust social listening tools are required to aggregate and analyze the scope of huge trends, not to mention uncovering less explosive discussions. Reach out for a demo to see how – with global coverage, support for a myriad of languages, and partnership with top platforms like Twitter and Reddit – NetBase Quid can provide your business inimitable access to trending topics across various demographics.