Trendspotting for PR practitioners: Tips and tricks

Most brands want to "break the internet" with their content and it is our job as PR practitioners to get them as close to achieving that as possible. But before that, we must first have an understanding of what trends are and how to distinguish them from fads.

Here’s how to use digital data to spot trends.

Make daily trend checks a habit

Check out trending topics on Twitter, YouTube, and Google Search each morning. It is important to find commonalities in trends across different channels because if a topic is trending on several platforms, it probably means that it is something to pay attention to.

Not all trends are relevant trends

It is important to note that brands do not have to follow every trend out there. In considering what trends to ride on, you may want to ask the following questions:

1. Is posting related content to the trend considered ethical?
2. Is the trend associated to something culturally sensitive or political?
3. Would content related to the trend be considered offensive?
4. Is it aligned with your brand's mission and vision?

Analyse growing interest

Social listening data is a valuable resource to identify new topics, and so is Google Search volume. Search volume can be treated as a strong measure of interest and can help you tell real trends from fads.

Spikes in social conversations can be influenced by various factors (some which tend to be very erratic) such as a popular account posting about a certain topic or memes which may not be related to the topic. If the topic has high interest both in social conversations as well as Google Search volumes, it means that people are really interested in it and are trying to find out more.

Let’s take Boeing as an example. You can see in the following graph that spikes in the brand’s social conversations are the same as its Google Search Index. For this brand, recent crashes of its 737 Max airliner caused the highest peaks, showing us that people were not only talking about the accidents, but were also actively searching for it on Google.

Aside from working on press releases, messaging, and blanket statements, PR teams should also ensure that people see positive Google Search results about the brand. Presence on top-ranking websites and publications should be a priority when responding to incidents or making announcements.

Spot your ambassadors

Assessing key opinion leaders to engage with is not only dependent on the number of followers or engagements that they might have, but also how actively they discuss your industry.

A brand that is looking to launch healthy snacks, for example, will want to engage influencers that post about wellness and lifestyle topics. After identifying top accounts, you should then check their background, types of comments and followers they have, average engagement levels, and their average activity per week to gauge what kind of role they should play in your brand strategy.

Once you have chosen influencers to promote your brand online, you want to track their performance and see who has been the most effective – this helps you identify who adds most value to your brand and who you should consider engaging with again.

Looking at the above graph, the most effective influencers are those that fall in Quadrant 2 because they have the highest ROI. In the meantime, you can deliberate if you will still want to engage with those that are in Quadrant 3 because they contributed the least value.

Kei Obusan works in insights & innovation at Circus Social

Thumbnail image ©GettyImages

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