“Tracking consumer trends is one way to gain inspiration, helping you dream up profitable new goods, services and experiences for (and with) your customers,” says TrendWatching.com
It can help make your business more profitable to know what sort of things people (your customers) are buzzing about. There are number of online tools available — many free — that will help you track buzz and measure consumer trends. Below is our list of the top 10 ways to track buzz online.
Forum search engine Twing, which launched about about 6 months ago, released a new feature earlier this week called Buzz Charts. The Alexa-style charts graph keyword buzz in forum posts over time ranging from 7 days to 12 months. Buzz Charts can compare up to 5 different keywords, and can be filtered by forum, language, media, company, and other filters.
As Search Engine Watch noted
earlier this week, 28% of US consumers read online forums — that’s more than blogs (25%) — so tracking buzz on forums is extremely important for anyone serious about trend watching. “While blog writing and usage is considered explosive, the facts show that much of the online conversation is happening in forums,” wrote Kevin Heisler at SEW.
In April, Facebook launched
a very useful (for marketers and trend watchers) new feature called Lexicon. Lexicon graphs changes over time in the occurrence of keywords on public and semi-public user Walls. Year-over-year growth at Facebook is 77% in the US
, and comScore ranks the site as the 6th most-trafficked in the world. With 80 million people talking to each other on the web site, Facebook can be seen as a highly useful resource for mining trend data.
Google Trends has long been a favorite among bloggers as a way to compare the popularity of keywords, concepts, people, or brands. The tool measures both search volume for keywords on Google, as well as mainstream news mentions (via Google News) and creates trend charts that date back to 2004. One of the unique and useful features of Google Trends, is that because of the inclusion of news mentions the tool can attempt to explain spikes in popularity surrounding keywords by pairing them to news stories.
Blogpulse Trends creates “graphs that visually track ‘buzz’ over time for certain key words, phrases or links.” It works by mining data from blog posts over 1, 2, 3, or 6 month time periods. You can compare up to 3 terms at once with Blogpulse, which will then graph your results as a percentage of all blog posts.
Another good tool for tracking buzz in the blogosphere is blog search engine Technorati. In January of 2006, Technorati introduced the charts feature
, which allows any search on the site to be turned into a frequency chart showing the number of keyword occurrences in blog posts over the past 30 days. The charts are found on search results pages on the right hand side below the Google AdSense and Chitika ad blocks.
Unfortunately, charts are only good for one term at a time, so any comparisons have to be done manually.
Searching del.icio.us tags is another great way to keep on top of buzz. Unlike other services in this round up, del.icio.us doesn’t offer buzz charts, so it takes some manual labor to track changes in tag occurrence over time. But for one to one comparisons of specific keywords, a del.icio.us tag search is a useful method of tracking consumer buzz and getting an inside view into the words people use to describe certain topics.
Twist is a mashup that scans the public time line at microblogging/status service Twitter and graphs trends in the mentions of keywords. Because Twitter is now a place where breaking news breaks first
, a tool like Twist can help you uncover new trends almost as they are happening. If people are buzzing about something on Twitter, chances are that they’ll be buzzing about it on blogs and in the mainstream press very soon.
Twist was launched in April, about a month after a similar tool called Twittermeter
Indeed’s Job Trends application won’t be right for all trend tracking projects — for example, it doesn’t tell us much for the “Coke vs. Pepsi” trend search we’ve been using to test services for this round up — but it can offer unique insight into trends in the job market. Such as, that despite all the hype, PHP jobs still vastly outnumber Ruby jobs, and are growing at a faster rate as well. Or, that there are apparently more companies searching for CEOs than for CTOs.
Trackur is the only commercial service in our roundup. It keeps tabs on blogs, video sites, image sites, news sources, and more to track buzz about any keyword you input. Think of it as Google Alerts on steroids. The reason we’re including Trackur in this round up is because for $18 per month (for one keyword), Trackur can track any
keyword. With Trackur you can keep an eye on any keyword or phrase no matter how obscure. Most of the free services in this round up will balk at giving you data on terms that aren’t mentioned often enough to keep regular records about, which is why Trackur will be worth the cost for anyone tracking trends in less popular niches.
Compete is really the odd site out in this round up — more so than Trackur — because it doesn’t specifically track trends based around keywords, concepts, or phrases. Rather Compete is useful for comparing the traffic of one site to another so you can watch for spikes in traffic that may indicate a trend or buzzworthy event. Though Compete’s raw numbers are often rather off the mark, generally, when comparing sites the data is still useful.
Interestingly, almost every site in this round up found that Coke was more popular than Pepsi, but Compete reports that Pepsi has the more trafficked web site, despite being talked about a lot less.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Buzz Tracking
What is buzz tracking and why is it important for my brand?
Buzz tracking, also known as buzz monitoring, is the process of monitoring and analyzing the public’s comments and opinions about a particular brand, product, or service on various online platforms. This can include social media, blogs, forums, and review sites. It’s crucial for brands because it provides valuable insights into customer perceptions, helps identify potential issues early, and can guide strategic decision-making. It’s a key component of online reputation management and can significantly impact a brand’s success.
How can I effectively track buzz for my brand?
Effective buzz tracking involves several steps. First, identify the platforms where your target audience is most active. Then, use tools like Google Alerts, Mention, or BuzzSumo to monitor mentions of your brand, products, or services. Analyze the data collected to understand the sentiment behind the mentions – are they positive, negative, or neutral? Finally, respond appropriately to the mentions, whether it’s thanking someone for positive feedback or addressing a complaint.
What are some of the best tools for buzz tracking?
There are several effective tools for buzz tracking. Google Alerts is a free tool that sends you email updates when your brand is mentioned online. Mention is a more comprehensive tool that tracks mentions across social media, blogs, and news sites. BuzzSumo is particularly useful for tracking content performance and identifying key influencers in your industry. Other tools include Brandwatch, Hootsuite, and Sprout Social.
How can I use the information gathered from buzz tracking?
The information gathered from buzz tracking can be used in several ways. It can help you understand customer perceptions of your brand, identify areas for improvement, and guide your marketing strategy. For example, if you notice a lot of positive buzz around a particular product feature, you might decide to highlight that feature in your marketing materials. Conversely, if you notice negative buzz around a certain aspect of your customer service, you might decide to address that issue directly.
Can buzz tracking help me identify influencers in my industry?
Yes, buzz tracking can help you identify key influencers in your industry. By monitoring who is talking about your brand and how much engagement their posts receive, you can identify individuals who have a significant impact on your target audience. You can then engage with these influencers, potentially leveraging their influence to boost your brand’s visibility and credibility.
How often should I monitor the buzz around my brand?
The frequency of buzz monitoring depends on the size and nature of your brand. However, as a general rule, it’s a good idea to monitor the buzz around your brand daily. This allows you to stay on top of any potential issues and respond promptly to customer feedback.
Can buzz tracking help me manage a crisis?
Absolutely. Buzz tracking can help you identify a potential crisis before it escalates. By monitoring online conversations, you can spot negative trends or issues early and take proactive steps to address them. This can help you manage the situation effectively and protect your brand’s reputation.
How can I measure the success of my buzz tracking efforts?
Success in buzz tracking can be measured in several ways. You can track the volume of mentions over time, the sentiment of those mentions (positive, negative, or neutral), and the impact of those mentions on key metrics like website traffic or sales. Additionally, you can measure the effectiveness of your responses to mentions, such as whether you were able to resolve customer complaints or leverage positive feedback for marketing purposes.
Can buzz tracking improve my SEO?
Yes, buzz tracking can indirectly improve your SEO. By understanding what people are saying about your brand, you can create content that addresses their interests and concerns, which can boost your search engine rankings. Additionally, positive online buzz can lead to more backlinks to your website, which is a key factor in SEO.
What are some common mistakes to avoid in buzz tracking?
Some common mistakes in buzz tracking include not monitoring all relevant platforms, not analyzing the sentiment behind mentions, and not responding appropriately to mentions. It’s also important to avoid becoming too focused on negative feedback – while it’s important to address, it’s equally important to acknowledge and leverage positive feedback.