By adaptive - January 9th, 2012
Spotting a trend and then leveraging it for a marketing or promotional campaign can deliver powerful commercial advantages to corporations. But how do you spot a trend? And how should your business...
Spotting a trend and then leveraging it for a marketing or promotional campaign can deliver powerful commercial advantages to corporations. But how do you spot a trend? And how should your business make the most of the trends within your market sector?
Ever since social media became an integral commercial component for corporations around the world, trends have become a significant driver of consumer activity. Knowing how to create and respond to existing trends through social media can increase your market share and enhance your brand recognition.
The basic definition of a trend is something novel that services an existing consumer need, desire, or want. Each social network displays this differently. Whereas Twitter trends are hot topics that users are following through hashtags, Facebook trends are 'likes' or the number of users that click a certain status update or private page. Google+ uses Ripples, which presents an interactive graph of who has shared a post as well as any re-shares by other users.
As a corporation, you need to perceive consumer conversations, identify the relevant content, and act on it appropriately. Tracking consumer trends is a good way to gain inspiration, helping you conjure up profitable new services and experiences for users. Sentiment analysis - data analysis done through online software - has become an increasingly popular method of achieving these aims.
There are a wealth of tracking and analytical platforms that allow you to download and examine pertinent trend data such as clicks; keyword search results; campaign results; dates; and demographics. Finding the right website that compiles this information into a simple format can be extremely beneficial. A few examples of these sites are:
- Google Analytics, which allows you to select data from a broad or specific range of traffic sources.
- Hashtags.org enables you to see trends on Twitter by day, hour, and topic in graphical form.
- Twitter Homepage where you can simply click on a hot trend to see an entire feed of the public conversation.
- Socialtoo allows you to create surveys and tracks statistics.
- SocialReport exports data into an easy-to-read Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.
All this information can help you effectively update your social media participation to fit the interests and content preferences of your audience – a key element of trend setting. For example, Nike decided that 'gamification' - commonly defined as using game-like mechanics to improve customer experience and/or profits - was an innovative way to offer their sports consumers an exciting, palpable concept that directly links to their renowned theme of “Just Play”. They created a Nike+ tag running application that offered a chance to digitally “run” towards a social or rewards based incentive.
The rest of the sporting world saw the buzz gamification was garnering and began looking at ways to capitalize on it by applying it to suit the needs of their patrons. In October 2011 The Los Angeles Kings became the first sports franchise to institute full game elements that allows fans to earn points by posting, watching videos, and sharing news on social networks. This is a perfect example of one multi-million dollar business implementing a trend to their commercial advantage.
In a world with thousands of people putting innovative findings and insights on the Internet for all to see, it's also crucial to proactively engage in online conversation. Charles Pownall, Lead Digital Strategist for Burson-Marsteller (Asia-Pacific), says, "Certain corporations tend to focus on the perceived reputation risks of open dialogue. Thus, they overlook the opportunities that exist from greater participation in online conversation, such as building solid relationships with active voices on the Internet and increasing awareness about the full range of corporate activities."
Crowd sourcing tools such as sharing networks and branded channels will help you accomplish these goals. IBM, for example, found that patrons wished to converse directly with technical experts and guest bloggers. They responded by setting up a thought leadership program that consisted of open dialogue with adroit technical professionals on blogs and interactive Youtube videos. A collaborative effort like this can lead to a wave of inventive, prosperous ideas.
A marketing campaign that produces buzz while simultaneously turning customers into brand loyalists is the best way to become a trendsetter. These people choose to spend time interacting with you online because they believe in the value of your message. Marketing through social responsibility programs via Facebook and Twitter (i.e. Pepsi’s Refresh Campaign) is a clever way to display a strong sense of community and generate a solid contingency of consumer advocates. With these influencers’ spreading the word to their own social media sphere, you’ll considerably increase awareness and establish your idea as a trend.
In order to retain these newly acquired customers, you must identify the proper channels to carry out each campaign. Jaime Radow, Personal Brand Consultant and Trend Forecaster at XYZ Life Coaching LLC, says, "You need to measure where results are coming from and properly invest in those channels. If a specific channel isn't delivering results, don't continue to invest in it. The most common mistake is trying to be everywhere because there is a lot of buzz on a particular topic." What’s trending on Facebook may not be on Twitter or LinkedIn. Make sure you select the appropriate apparatus to convey and update your message.
Every day billions of aspiring, demanding consumers are looking to fill an insatiable need for innovative brands and trends. A visionary approach towards trend watching, online conversation, and marketing campaigns will ensure your corporation is setting trends rather than waiting for them to arise. In the end, this will lead to a strong market presence that continues to reverberate with stakeholders and users across the fabric of social media.