When trying to find out what's trending online, you might initially gravitate toward Twitter, arguably the best social platform for breaking news and trending content. Whether you’re watching the Oscars or a college football game, you can engage in real-time conversation about whatever is happening at that particular moment, made even easier by #hashtags. But even though Twitter is a great resource for discovering trends (and for finding your number neighbor), it's not the only tool you can use to figure out what people are talking about.
As marketers, we find it incredibly useful to know the most popular topics that people are discussing online to help us create better content for our audiences. We can use social listening to monitor the conversations taking place about the products and services in our industry. We can keep up with what thought leaders are saying and share our own take on emerging topics. And we can share some of the most insightful content that we come across through our own channels such as newsletters or social accounts to provide value for our followers.
So here are 10 trend tools besides Twitter—including some you’ve likely never heard of—that you can use to find the latest trending topics as you craft your marketing plan for the year ahead.
BuzzFeed provides a wealth of social news and entertainment. While it’s definitely not the New York Times, BuzzFeed shows what’s going on in popular culture. You can browse content in sections ranging from Style to Books, and the trending section shows the most popular posts.
2. Google Trends
Google Trends can help you find trending searches and the most popular searches in a wide range of categories. You can search by region for a specific topic or find the recently trending searches. The good thing about Google Trends is that the information is based directly on search, which makes it great for coming up with organic-traffic-driving content.
BuzzSumo is an awesome resource for finding hot topics and key influencers. Just enter a topic, keyword, or domain to perform a search. Your results are filtered by the number of total shares across a variety of social media channels including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and more.
While you can click on a link to read an individual article, you can often get a sense of popular sentiment simply by skimming the headlines returned in your search.
Pricing ranges from $99 per month to an enterprise version at $499+ per month.
Quora provides its members with personalized information feeds while encouraging them to answer questions in their areas of expertise. The company’s mission is to “share and grow the world’s knowledge” by creating a massive database of questions and answers.
You can browse the Top Stories feed on your home page to see some of the most popular Quora content. In addition, you can search for specific keyword phrases and look at the most popular content (according to “upvotes,” comments, and shares).
Reddit has its own version of trending topics. While some of the things you’ll find here are silly, this “front page of the internet” can give you the pulse of what’s hot in popular culture.
6. Sprout Social
Sprout Social is a system for social media management with features including engagement, publishing, analytics, monitoring, collaboration, CRM, helpdesk, and mobile.
Unlike some of the other tools on the list, Sprout Social requires a paid subscription, but it gives you access to real-time brand monitoring, publishing, scheduling and drafting, and comprehensive reporting and analytics.
Radian6—now part of Salesforce Marketing Cloud—is another enterprise-grade tool for social that allows you to listen and engage, monitor your brand, and get insights into sentiment, demographics, trends, intent and more.
8. The Industry-leading Publication in Your Market
The actual publication you look to for inspiration is going to differ depending on your audience, but you can get an idea of trending topics based on what the top publisher in your space is talking about.
Think about your audience, what kinds of content they’re consuming, and where they go to find news. Then follow those publications to understand what topics might be trending. It’s a bit of a roundabout way of finding the trending topics, but it’s effective nonetheless.
While there are certain industries that benefit from Pinterest more than others, the company actively shares monthly trending reports for advertisers.
10. YouTube Trends
YouTube is the second largest search engine in the US behind Google, making it an incredible resource to find trending content. The video platform offers a trending feed and subcategories like music, gaming, news, movies, and fashion to help find trending topics within specific topic areas.
Social Media and Other Trend Tools Are Just the Start
So there you have it: 10 tools for finding the hottest online topics, social listening and more.
Once you find trending topics, the next question becomes, “should our brand actually create content around this?” After all, just because something is popular at the moment doesn’t mean you should spend time trying to correlate it to your brand if it’s just not all that relevant. But if you can make it work, the results can be exciting.
Derek Smith's skills as a reporter serve him well as a senior writer here at Element Three—and if you need a coach for your soccer team, he's got you covered. He's worked as a content strategist as well as a copywriter, so he's always thinking about the why behind every word and every piece of every campaign.
Feed your marketing mind and keep your skills sharp by opting into our weekly newsletter, packed with lessons we’ve learned firsthand. You won’t regret it.