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Large corporations spend millions of dollars, prowling the streets, seeing what the trends in fashion, music, and culture are. They rely on feedback from companies like Gallup, the Nielsen Ratings, and American Consumer Opinion to see what’s hot and what’s not. In a small business, you don’t have the same level of resources. But that’s okay – you can get your own “feet on the street” feedback, quickly and easily, using your social media networks. Here are some of the tools you can use to see what’s hot, right now:
Twitter Trends. Go to http://search.twitter.com/ and right below the search box, you’ll see a list of trending topics (as of this writing, the trending topics include #ImSickOf, #YammouniFollow, Windows Live Messenger, Happy Election Day, and TVA ). If there’s a topic you want to track, you can click on the name and subscribe to the RSS feed to keep constantly updated on a trending topic.
Hashtags. If you want to follow a particular topic (“internet marketing,” “titans,” etc.) via Twitter, you can simply follow the hashtag (#) associated with that subject. You can also subscribe to the RSS feed to be notified whenever new tweets on that topic are posted.
Facebook and LinkedIn Groups. It’s a little more difficult to see what’s trending on Facebook or LinkedIn, but you can see what groups are growing and what topics are hot. Do a search on either site for results, and join groups that look interesting and pertinent to your business. You can receive messages directly to your email inbox or opt to log in to your account to read. Either way is a great tactic for keeping tabs on what people in your niche are talking about.
Yahoo! and Google Groups. Go to groups.yahoo.com or groups.google.com to view thousands upon thousands of groups for interests as varied as recycling, Santa Clara University alums, and Justin Bieber fans. Join the ones appropriate for your interests, browse topics, and see suggestions at http://custom.yahoo.com/bestofyahoogroups/.
YouTube “Most Viewed.” Head over to http://www.youtube.com/videos?feature=mh to see the most viewed videos of the day. You can even see top results by category (Education, Howto & Style, Nonprofits & Activism, News & Politics, Comedy, People & Blogs, etc.) The results may surprise you!
Stumbleupon, Technorati, Alltop. Check out any of these blog aggregators to see what others find interesting, read-worthy, or titillating. You can see hot topics, trending news, and just plain weird stuff.
As you can see, no need to hire a beat reporter to tell you what’s happening in your target market. You can easily track it all from your computer – no reporter’s notebook required.