By: Ali Lawrence
In social media marketing, it's important to give your followers content that interests them. Hopefully, you've done enough research to know who your target audience is and what they like. If you've done this, you should already be writing posts that appeal to them.
However, you can get a lot more mileage out of social media if your timing is right--meaning you write about interesting topics right when they're starting to peak in popularity. To do so, you need to find out which topics are trending, incorporate them appropriately and publish your content as soon as possible. Here are some tips for incorporating trending topics into your social media marketing campaign.
1. Find out What's Trending on Search Engines
Although it's only been used with social media recently, trending is not a new term on the Internet. For years you've been able to see what the most popular search terms are, whether through a news site or the search engine itself. Journalists have used trends to find out which stories will generate the most interest.
It's very easy to discover which terms are trending on the Internet. You just need to visit Google Trends and the most commonly searched topics will appear on the right-hand side of the screen.
At the time this screenshot was taken, some of the topics generating the most buzz were Mercer University, Vogue and Michael Vick. You can use information such as this to create content hot content. Since the Mercer University upset received so much press, it might be a good idea to create an infographic covering the biggest NCAA upsets of all time, similar to this article.
2. Use Trending Terms for Market Research
Google Trends also allows you to search for popular keywords related to a topic. This can be helpful if you're planning to write about a certain area, and you need to find out what's generating a lot of buzz relative to that location. In this way, Google Trends is also very useful for market research. Say, for example, you own a local bakery and you’re trying to expand your customer base. You’re thinking about offering increased order services, so you search “order cake” on Google trends.
You see the terms “cakes online” and “order cakes online” are breakout terms, and these similar terms have increased in popularity by more than 200%. Based on this data, you decide it may be worthwhile to start implementing online ordering and delivery for your bakery.
3. Check the Trends on Twitter
What's trending on the Internet in general may not necessarily be trending on every social media network. If you're planning a post with a specific site in mind, make sure you double-check what's trending on that network. Fortunately, this is easy to do and there are a lot of great tools out there to help you see what’s trending.
Twitter is one of the first social networks marketers have used for trends. Twitter trends are listed on the right-hand side of the screen when you log into your account. You can also see them under the Notifications, Discover and Me tabs.
Marketers can also use other tools to find more information about trends on Twitter. For example, Trendsmap allows you to see the most popular hashtags for each region of the U.S. This is particularly helpful if you own a small business and want to incorporate hot topics in your town into your media presence. What the Trend, sponsored by Hootsuite, is another useful tool. This may be better if you just want to see what’s trending across the United States and the world, rather than in a certain area.
4. See What's Popular on Facebook
Facebook is a little new to the trends game, so there may be some changes made to its policies in the coming weeks and months. Right now, though, you can see what topics are trending in the upper right-hand corner of your News Feed. Facebook’s trends tool is especially useful as it gives you a short description of why each trend is popular. For example, if you weren’t keeping up with the NCAA tournament, Facebook could tell you Mercer’s upset over Duke is what has caused the University to generate so much buzz.
5. Know When a Trend Is Off-Limits
Not every trending topic is fair game for marketers. In some instances, the most popular topics may be national disasters or hostile takeovers. For example, Russia’s annexation of Crimea received a lot of buzz, but this isn’t exactly the kind of topic you want to use in marketing. If you discuss the topic in a joking or lighthearted way, you can look like you’re shamelessly exploiting the trend. Furthermore, you may offend someone. Just use common sense, though, and you should be fine.