Whether you’re a fashion blogger, a social media specialist, or a publicist like myself, you’ll need to not only keep track of what’s happening, but also stay ahead of it. Read a random job description and you’ll probably find a bullet point along the lines of “keeps up with industry trends,” or in other words, you better know what’s going on.
This might be one of the geekiest posts I’ve ever written, but who cares? I don’t. I’m having a fabulous time knowing everything there is to know, and you should too. Be the person at the meeting (and at the party) who can step in with “Well, I noticed that a lot of people have been talking about the new unicorn Frappucino…” or whatever it is your team might care about.
Constantly staying ahead of trends sounds like a superhuman thing to be able to do, and it totally isn’t…but it will make you look like a superhuman, so let’s just go with it. Just like Batman gets his powers from his gadgets, we can get our trendspotting superpower from ours. Now that I’ve made an actual superhero reference, I’m going to quit while I’m ahead and move on.
Here’s the rundown on my favorite tools for tracking trends:
4 Ways to Keep Track of Industry Trends
Read up on trade publications & subscribe to their daily newsletters.
Every industry’s got its trade pubs- not just the normal magazines that everyone reads, but the industry experts that know what’s coming. Woman’s Wear Daily and Racked are examples of trade pubs in the beauty and fashion industry. Ad Age and Adweek are both important trade outlets in the advertising industry. The more specialized you get with your reading, the more likely you’ll be on top of what’s happening. For instance, one of my clients does augmented reality and virtual reality, and I got real up close and personal with the video trade media outlets like FierceVideo and Cablefax.
In an unexpected career move, another one of my clients is Eaze, a prominent marijuana delivery company in California, and I did not even know where to begin with the cannabis industry. I never expected to be working in weed. So I did a deep dive into the cannabis trade outlets (High Times, Cannabis Business Times, Ganjapreneur) and it’s given me the knowledge I need to know what will be relevant in the weed world.
Check out Google Trends to see what people are searching
Google Trends is GAME-CHANGING (they did not sponsor this post, btw. I wish). I swear it will make you a trendspotting wizard. It shows you the latest trending searches (today it was Miami Dolphins, National Dog Day, and Beyonce) and lets you search for the most popular trends by geographic region.
This is how you can find out that New Zealand is the country most interested in Fortnite this week, or the month that the most people searched for “summer nail polish colors.” Play around with it and experience the magic.
Twitter: Thank you, Captain Obvious
Yes, Twitter (and Facebook, and Instagram, for that matter) are obvious go-tos for exploring trending topics. But obvious for a reason: They show you what the trending hashtags are, and you can follow specific hashtags to stay updated. For instance, if you want to see what local bloggers are up to, hashtags like #LAblogger and #Chicagoblogger are a good starting point. This is probably the most natural way people keep up with trends, and also why influencers are so impactful, and it’s getting easier and easier to control what you see on your feed.
Do some secondary market research
I went into a lot more detail on this in my post on getting good at research, but I’ll give you a recap here: Dig up the dirt from good sources.
- News sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Harvard Business Review, Newsweek, BBC, Bloomberg
- Blogs: Trendspotting.com, Trendwatching.com, or any blogs that a reputable company in your industry publishes.
- Databases: Factiva, PEW Research Center, Mintel, Gallup, Nielsen, Deloitte, Accenture, U.S. Census data, Experian