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The Wisdom of Clicks: Trendspotting With Social Media

Posted on | June 24, 2008 | No Comments

Trendspotting is tricky – trends can seem ephemeral and tough to grasp onto. But doing it right could mean the difference between a spike in traffic and a dip, between gaining currency with readers as relevant and becoming that forgotten bookmark.

On terra firma, companies are sending employees all over the globe to snap photos of what’s up-and-coming. In some ways, it might be easier to just go to Sweden and see what those hip kids are wearing – one person could cover most of Oslo in a few days, but couldn’t hope to make sense of every click, Digg and tweet as quickly. The good news about all that activity, though, is that it’s leaving behind a trail of Internet civilization we can refer back to – “If we can see this landscape,” according to FringeHog, “we can map it.”

There are tools out there to track aggregate popularity. Unsurprisingly, news is at the forefront of this phenomenon with sites like OurSignal, which ranks stories by size and color to let you know how popular and how hot they are every 15 minutes.

Mining information like this for use on niche sites can be more difficult. Good search techniques across several social sites could do the trick, and Marketing Vox suggests zeroing in on similar key words and rigorous Boolean use to get the most out of manual methods.

In the evolving environment that social sites create, it’s also helpful to borrow from Macolm Gladwell’s model of the way information flows in the real world. Drawing again from FringeHog’s musings, if we see Gladwell’s connectors, mavens, and salesmen as analogies for the social media sphere, they are networking or bookmarking sites, blogs, and content ranking sites, respectively. And it becomes clearer where to focus attention: for trendspotting, some combination of “connectors” and “mavens” will allow us to see what the insiders know and like, and what from that category is catching on with a larger audience.

Or I could design an OurSignal for the fashion and beauty world, and make sure to log myself on every 15 minutes.

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