In 2016, Niantic released its augmented reality game Pokémon Go! and the world lost its proverbial shit. The game was basically the biggest phenomena since the parting of the Red Sea. Businesses jumped on board.
Yelp added a Pokéstop filter, allowing players to decide where they would be eating based off of the chances of catching a Pikachu nearby. Startups started to pop up as well, capitalizing on the trend. Pokévision.com, a site devoted to tracking and locating all Pokémon near you in live time on a map, exploded, garnering an Alexa rank of 1,000 overnight. In real people terms, the site was Kelly Clarkson in season one of American Idol. #throwback
So, how can you use trends to your advantage when starting a business? Well, if you have a computer or smartphone the good news is, it’s as easy as having a computer or smartphone.
The other good news? Larger companies aren’t as good at posting content about trending topics. There are just too many hoops to go through, people to consult, and delays to deal with. So, by the time they’ve posted that gif with the sneezing baby panda next to their ad for tissues, the year is 2025, and it’s too late.
How to Find What’s Trending
With Twitter, you can view trending hashtags in various locations, like “worldwide” or “nearby”. Facebook’s Trending feature has generated more criticism but still gathers information about what topics are popular with its 1.71 billion users, and more specifically, those you are interacting with. Sites like Trendhunter are a gold mine of ideas, too.
For an even more powerful dataset, try using Google Trends. You can explore different topics, categories and locations over periods of times, and zone in on subregions, related searches, trending queries, and relevant article selections. Or try using this handy tool: Buzzsumo. It tells you what’s most popular on social media by topic or website and what’s trending on any given day.
What to Do Next
Now that you’ve had a pretty good look into the curiosities of others, what next? Besides going down the internet rabbit hole, you use this information to your advantage, of course.
Using trends can really lead to some viral stuff. Recently, when Brad and Angelina split, Norwegian Air launched a print and online ad campaign the very next day to advertise their affordable flights to LA. Needless to say, it “took off.” But you don’t have to launch a full ad campaign to jump on a trend.
Blog Posts and Web Content
Does your product tie in with or solve a problem that’s top of mind for your audience? Use language and images that your readers would use and they’ll relate that much more to your material. Say, if I were to write “Go Cubs, I’m With Her, Justin and Selena 4Eva, Hodor,” you wouldn’t be able to take your eyes off the page right? Good.
That being said, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:
- Do think about the emotion underlying the trend. Are people pissed off? Create a site with a .sucks domain and rally them: working.sucks, traffic.sucks, sexism.sucks, bellyflopping.sucks… you get the idea.
- Don’t jump on something if it doesn’t have a natural or clever tie-in to your brand. Just because everyone is talking about the Kardashians doesn’t mean you have to as well.
- Do use relevant keywords in your copy (see Google Trends note above). This is the language everyone is searching for and talking about.
- Don’t overuse keywords (which is called “keyword stuffing”)—there’s no need to cram said keywords in your blog post a million times. We get it. So does Google.
- Do use the right hashtags. You don’t have to create a whole blog post. Write a funny tweet. Link back to something relevant on your site. Add the hashtag. Done.
- Do keep it respectful. Think twice before posting. There are plenty of brand fails out there that were the result of brands not thinking things through before acting.
So while you’re sipping that first cup of coffee of the day, do some soul searching, but more importantly, do some trend searching. Use people’s curiosity to build an interactive company that at the end of the day will be relevant and active. And remember, don’t trend and drive.
Trends come and go, but one thing remains the same: .com is the gold standard of domains. That’s why you need one if you want people to take you seriously. Get yours right now for only $1.50 USD for your first year!