In the last two blog posts, we covered market research tools and methods for Customer Intelligence and Competitor Intelligence. Today we add a third leg to the proverbial stool by listing website resources for gathering trend information to inform business strategy.
1. What are the most popular searches on the web right now or over some past period of time? There are countless tools and methods to gather this information but if you want to capture a snapshot “pulse” of the web, here are a few suggestions.
Explore real-time hot topics and hot searches with Google tools such as Google Trends. For more advanced analysis from search data, try Google Insights which provides drill down capability by category, geography, seasonality, and properties of search.
SEOmoz has comprehensive tools for search engine optimization but for the purpose of trend monitoring, there are several free keyword tools that can help you with trend research. SEO Book and WordStream are also SEO tool providers with a variety of keyword research, competitive research and web traffic evaluation capabilities. I won’t speak to their respective strengths and weaknesses but offer these tools only as a means to monitor current trends.
2. What is the buzz on the blogs, forums, and social networks?
Blog Pulse : gives you a real-time snapshot on the hot topics being discussed in the blogosphere. In addition, a searchable archival database of topics over the past 180 days can be used to research on any topic and provide popular blog pots on the topic based upon user engagement.
What the Trend provides information on top trending topics on Twitter as well as trends over the past 30 days. Twitter keeps a running log of the top trending topics worldwide and in selected locations. Twitter Search provides real-time hot topics and advanced search capabilities to find tweets on any topic you choose.
Biz Sugar provides social bookmarking focused on small and medium business information. As with other social bookmarking sites, content is submitted and voted upon by the community but in this case, the community consists mainly of entrepreneurs like you.
3. My personal favorite places to follow trends combine the wisdom of the crowds with analysis from professional trend analysts into a combination of real-time aggregators and analyst reports (free and fee-based) covering every conceivable social, economic, and political trend.
Trend Hunter: You could lose days in this community of over 30,000 scouts who contribute real-time trends to this site which analyzes and aggregates the data on 100’s of categories of trends. Once you find your way through the site, subscribe to the newsletter or create separate subscriptions and notifications based on your topics of interest. (I continue to recommend Exploiting Chaos as one of the best books for business inspiration I have read – please check it out!)
Trend Watching : Great free and subscription based reports with analysis of key trends from 100’s of trend watchers worldwide. I subscribe to their newsletter and find it an invaluable tool.
Poll Daddy : Not only does Poll Daddy offer widgets you can embed in your website or Facebook page to poll customers but the company provides an amazing searchable database of millions of active and archived polls and their results.
Trendpedia : Check out popular current topics from the blogosphere, along with top trends from the past week and month. In addition, compare the relative buzz on several topics and gage interest on those topics in the blogosphere.
Following the trends provides inspiration for new product lines as well as ideas for re-positioning existing products. Many of the tools noted above have more advanced and professional versions available for a subscription fee. I suggest you begin with this list of tools and subscribe to those which provide the most insight for your strategic thinking process.
Again, this is simply a short list of web-based resources I utilize. What are you using to keep abreast of the social, economic, and political trends?