Be a Trendspotter


Until recently, trendspotting was a hobby relegated to collecting examples of stories behind data or math patterns. This gave rise to such things like counting bad words used in movies for an Oscar-winning vocabulary or determining which canine species had the best smelling abilities. For today’s marketers, it’s figuring out what the next big consumer trend will be. Is it Bernie Sanders’ mittens or something else yet unveiled?

The reasons for being able to anticipate the next big trend are obvious. Whomever gets ahead of the wave will reap tons of success as well as revenue if it happens to fall within the purview of their brand. Determining if something will be a passing fad or a trend can be difficult so deciding whether to pursue or invest in it can feel like a gamble.

The “born” trendspotters are social marketers. They’re used to analyzing social media data and talking to customers. Consider the early adopters of TikTok in 2019 when most critics were highly skeptical.

That skepticism quickly reversed, however, as observers like business intelligence firm App Annie predicted that TikTok’s active users will rise to 1 billion this year. But the marketers who jumped aboard early had a tremendous advantage.

With so many trends, where does one begin to look? Because social media is so popular, that is the ideal place to look. The first place is the brand’s social feed.

  • What are the content consumers sharing and talking about the most?
  • What topics are they absorbed with?
  • Which social platforms are they most engaged with? A
  • re any growing or shrinking? Similarly, which ads are they mostly participating with?

Data compiled by Sprout Social from an early spring 2020 survey before the pandemic showed how marketers and consumers are trending. As importantly, it also showed cases of where they differed. While 42% of marketers said they plan on using influencers, only 19% of consumers wanted to see more. The difference was wide on viral challenges with 31% of marketers moving towards that and only 10% of consumers wanting more.

There was an interesting discovery as well. 38% of brands said they were going to employ employee advocacy while only 20% of consumers wanted more. However, it should be noted that the survey was conducted not only before the pandemic but also three months before the George Floyd murder and other subsequent major events.

Tracking and analyzing reviews and feedback of not just the company’s brands, but also those of competitors, can have a big impact on future promotions. Pay particular attention to any differences between the brand and the competition. If there are any, try to determine why, especially if the competition is walking away with the majority of glowing remarks, and make necessary changes and adjustments.

Other key action items include interacting more with customers online. Pay particular attention to their choice of keywords and hashtags they use. Do the same with the competition and note any differences. There are social listening tools on the market that are worth investing in, and save hours of labor.

Keep in mind that trend spotting is quantitative. Review the brand’s social media metrics to see what’s popular. It’s probably worth expanding on those that are, but continue to measure and monitor them.

Finally, if the brand uses influencers, seek out their opinions based on the feedback they receive. If there is none, check out blogs and follow some influencers who represent similar products to determine where they’re focused.


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