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by Stephen Logan on 8th July 2011
On the back of yesterday’s revelations in the world of news and the relationship with new online media, I thought this would be a good time to talk about trends. The online blogging, networking and news communities feed on trends. There are many metrics available, to measure these. Some look at search engine queries, others look at Twitter trends whilst there are those that tap into global mentions.
Statistics can often be deceiving though. Just because a topic is trending, numerical data can never provide any context for why or how relevant it is – there’s certainly no accounting for the accuracy of news. However, if its general spikes you’re looking to determine, then there is certainly value to be had. As mentioned previously, a great tool to use if you want to know what has been or is being discussed online is BlogPulse.
Unfortunately the Trend Search isn’t updated instantly or even hourly, so it isn’t ideal for real-time searches – Twitter is a better indicator, particularly where big stories are concerned. For a visual representation of the news and its impact online though, BlogPulse is hugely useful. There are other tools and methods out there
Social and Blogging News Trending
Yesterday I talked about how The News of the World scandal was a tipping point in the people power generated on social networking platforms. Whilst I would very much like to take the credit for bringing the paper down, it was probably more to do with the pressure being built by the masses. However this is far from the only example where public opinion has dictated the news, or the consequences. In fact it happens all the time.
Below is a graphic representation of three individuals who have received a fair amount of press attention in the past few months for one reason or another. As the image indicates, there are clear peaks and troughs in the mentions of Ryan Giggs, Andy Murray and Sepp Blatter.
As you can see, this is a six month snapshot for all three. The level of fluctuation suggests that there is constantly a low level of discussion about each. Hardly surprising, considering one plays for the Premier League champions, another is the fourth highest ranked golfer and the other is the leader of Fifa. The interesting thing to note is the times where online discussions have peaked.
For instance, back in March, it was announced that Sepp Blatter would be campaigning for re-election at Fifa. This resulted in a huge spike. For Ryan Giggs the news wasn’t quite so positive. His affair was finally announced on May 22nd after weeks of speculation. As you can see, this speculation had an impact before the actual confirmation (albeit you have to factor in additional interest from fans discussing the Champions League final on 28th May) – certainly creating more buzz than in the months of February and March.
Finally there’s an excellent representation of how a story can develop courtesy of Andy Murray. At the beginning of June he was involved in a successful French Open campaign which saw him reach the semi finals, as indicated by the top peak. A week later and he was winning the Queens tournament, again, there is a gradual build up to a significant peak, which quickly falls away again. Then of course there is Wimbledon.
Gaining a Clear Basis for Comparison and Timelining Events
But what do all these numbers actually mean? Well, if you’re looking to see what news has been broken recently and how widely this was distributed, it’s useful to be able to compare standard activity with that of average periods. You can also compare various events, as has been done above, to provide a direct comparative basis.
As such, it’s also possible to track the history of a trend, particularly in situations where a story has been broken over time (both the Ryan Giggs and News of the World situations are good examples). What may have appeared as a small undercurrent of interest in traditional media, can actually be spread right across the blogosphere. So when it comes to retrospective analysis, getting a flavour of online activity can be hugely important.
So whether you’re the victim of a story, a PR agency tracing a campaign’s visibility or desperately trying to catch on to the biggest stories tracking online figures is hugely important. I’ve used BlogPulse as an example above, but there are numerous analytics tools that can do the same function. Indeed the search engines often release their top searches and real-time results are available through numerous tracking tools on Twitter.
News of the World, Coulson Et al.
Still not convinced about the relationship between trends and column inches? Below are two pertinent graphs relating to the News of the World scandal and related protagonists. Both show how the story has developed over the months and the size of the peak that there has been in recent days. This indicates the level of feeling amongst news folk and everyday bloggers.
The data is out there and, as with all things, you have to choose your sources well. 100% accuracy is difficult to assure, but as an indicator there are plenty of sources to compare and contrast. So if you ever want to see how strong public feeling is, a quick search and compare is all that is required. This is true of SEO, PPC and most other online marketing channels.
Just like finding a hot story, you also want to be sure that you’re chasing the very best keywords and targeting terms that people are actively searching for. Being current with your keywords ensures that you’re not chasing old news or jumping on board a falling trend.
Stephen Logan is our Senior Content Marketer at Koozai. With four years experience writing exclusively for the search engine marketing industry, he has amassed a wealth of industry related knowledge. He will be breaking news stories and contributing compelling SEO related stories.