Social media is like a whirlpool. Trends, hashtags, fights, encouragement, social interaction, corporate spiels... it is all circling in this hurricane of activity at all hours of the day and night, all over the world.
It has connected us in a way that seemed like a pipe dream in the past, for better and (occasionally) worst.
Keeping track of trends on the various platforms now popular online can be a big challenge.
Not least of which because they change so rapidly. You need every tool at your disposal if you are going to do it properly.
These 10 are only a sliver of what is available, but they are my favorites.
This All-In-One dashboard is one of the best things to ever hit the web. It is aimed not at set tools, but at building your own. It offers widgets that can create just about anything you need, from the social, business, marketing, or research end. All in one place, for next to nothing. If I could recommend any tool to the people reading this, it is Cyfe. Cyfe is a great way to clear the clutter while tracking a ton of hashtags and keywords within one dashboard.
I am not an avid Tumblr user. Yet, by the time I see a meme or something trending on Facebook, I often saw it on Tumblr weeks, or even months, before. It is a great source of internet content right when it has been posted, and you are sure to see it first if you keep your dashboard filled with a handful of choice, active blogs there. Plus you can do a search, but coming across something on your own is more helpful.
Reddit is another great place to see things early on. But unlike Tumblr, which is more meme based, Reddit shows trends all across the web, in different categories. News about technology sometimes drops there first, AMA's are a great source of info you wouldn't find anywhere else right from the expert's mouth... it is awesome. You can also look at Trending Reddit to see what is hot at any given time.
With an insane number of tools and a great method for searching across several social media tools, Hootsuite allows you can monitor for trends all day, every day. Be sure to check out their webinars to see some of the lesser known features available to pro users.
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If you are a journalist, Signal is an option for you. It is only open to those who can provide proof of press passes. The dashboard generates a feed of trending topics, hashtags, conversations and users. You can see its popularity over time, and use that to follow hot stories that might be relevant to you. It integrates with Instagram search, creates quick leaderboards, curates content and data, and a lot more. Reporters use this tool all the time. Sign up through Facebook and provide your credentials to gain access.
Need to see what is hot by location? Then try Geofeedia. It is an amazing analytics tool that tracks what is happening in different searchable locations across the globe. You can find patterns based on those regions, and exploit the trends as they happen, where they are most prevalent. Or track a trends progress from one region to another to establish a timeline for future use.
7. Social Mention
One thing I like to do is look at trends on one social network, and find out if they are trending on Twitter. Since Twitter is an open platform it can be more useful for gathering data and following individuals than the more privacy based Facebook. Social Mention makes it easy. You just take your trending search terms, put them in the search box, and see what is hot and what is not. It could keep you from wasting your time on cross-platform trends that haven't made the leap from one to another, which is more common than you might think.
Tweetdeck has been around for awhile, and you have probably used it. You can set it up to monitor certain hashtags, and keep an eye on them as their popularity increases and decreases. You can also use their features as an overall Twitter management dashboard, which is pretty cool. I don't usually recommend this one unless they only have Twitter. Otherwise, it isn't as versatile as social dashboards like Cyfe or Hootsuite. On the plus side, it is free and offers a lot of punch.
9. Google Trends
Of course, Google was going to factor on this list somewhere. Google Trends is the best way to monitor trending topics on a more expansive level than on a single social media site (or even all of them). You can see what people are saying on blogs, websites, videos, lesser used social platforms, etc. You will have a much broader picture of what is trending, and that may help you make more informed decisions on what you promote, follow, etc. You can set up alerts on keywords you want to watch, as well. So you will always know what is happening.
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Instagram is kind of lacking in third party tools at this point, which is a surprise given how frequently it is used, and how its popularity is growing more and more. Top-Hashtags is a website that monitors the tags trending on the photo site. You can also do a search to see how other hashtags rank when they aren't on the top lists. It is easy to use, and very informative. I would keep an eye on it is Instagram is a major source of social clout for your brand.
Do you have a tool to put on this list? We would love to hear about them. Let us know in the comments, and be sure to tell us how you have used it in the past.