Monitoring trending topics in real-time is a key part of a modern, data-driven communications program.

Modern Marketing Happens in the Now

One of the most effective tactics you can implement for public relations (PR), social media and content marketing is real-time monitoring of trending topics online. Trending topics are those that are being talked about the most online right now. For example, Twitter has an algorithm that identifies topics that are popular now on Twitter. What’s popular right now might not have been popular an hour ago or yesterday.

Trending topics are powerful, as they can reveal what people’s interests and intentions are – and also what is happening right now. If there is a surge in people searching online for the term ‘unemployment insurance’ for example, this could suggest that unemployment levels are rising. This is a great opportunity to share any information and advice if you’re an expert, or if you’re in the business of providing unemployment insurance.

At the most basic level, real-time monitoring of trending topics online is a great place to start if you’re looking to brainstorm ideas for new marketing content (such as a blog post or online video) that is relevant and interesting for your audience.

Best-in-Class Media Outreach Is Informed by Conversation

Tech-savvy PR pros are particularly interested in the topics that journalists are writing about. They will read a journalist’s articles and blog posts, listen to their podcasts, follow them on social media and use media intelligence tools to help them identify the topics the journalist is interested in based on what they are writing about. If you know what interests your audience, you can tailor your content to their interests.

Trending topics are really effective for capturing the attention of a broader audience. Writing a blog post about a popular trending topic can give your website/blog a huge traffic boost. Every tweet, Facebook status update, comments field and blog entry can cover a whole range of topics, and if there’s a groundswell of interest in a topic online, you can easily monitor it with social listening software.

Conversely, you may be interested in a topic that you think is worth talking about, but there may not be much interest online right now. Media intelligence tools can help you research the level of interest for that topic over time and help you decide whether you should create any content. It could turn into a trending topic if you create content that resonates with the audience you’re looking to reach.

Use Media Intelligence Outside of PR & Social

Monitoring trending topics isn’t just for content creation either. Trending topics can help influence other marketing efforts and business decisions too. Back to my previous example about ‘unemployment insurance’ – you may decide to implement a sales and marketing campaign to connect with an audience that is interested in unemployment insurance.

Or, if you’re about to launch a new product – you could search for topics that relate to your industry to better understand your market. You may find that certain consumers oppose certain ingredients, such as palm oil. This can help you determine the ingredients you use in your new product.

To monitor what topics are trending (and also not trending) online can make a significant impact on our business and marketing strategy. The valuable and timely insights gained can really help us make better marketing and business decisions.

This article first appeared on Sydney Morning Herald