The Challenges and Opportunities of Trending

Trending is the process by which social media platforms highlight the topics most talked about in real-time. These trends are based on a variety of factors, including the number of people searching for and discussing those topics, the geographical area they are in, and the interests of those users. Trends can be used to identify a variety of things, including political events and social issues. They can also be a powerful tool for businesses, providing an opportunity to gain visibility in the public discourse and engage with customers in a timely and relevant way.

As the internet and social media have evolved, they have transformed the concept of trends, with new platforms and tools offering more immediate and wide-spread access to this information. Trends offer journalists and media outlets a real-time barometer of public interest, helping to guide story selection and coverage. They can also be useful for business, with companies like Pantone distilling them into reports that predict or dictate color, design, and consumer tastes.

However, while the ability to track and react to trends is a boon for businesses, they are not without their challenges. One such challenge is the ability of groups to manipulate trends in an attempt to push a particular agenda or influence public opinion. This can distort the organic nature of trends, skewing the results and creating an inaccurate representation of what people are genuinely talking about.

In addition, the algorithms that determine what trends are displayed can be subject to errors and biases, especially when analyzing data from a single user. This can be problematic if, for example, misspellings of a word or topic split the volume and cause a false trend. This can be a significant issue when it comes to trends around news events, as was the case during the San Bernardino shootings when both the correct and incorrect spelling of “San Bernardino” trended on Twitter.

These limitations have led to some controversy surrounding the use of trending tools. For example, YouTube trends have been shown to exclude creators whose videos aren’t deemed newsworthy. This has angered some content creators, who have taken the slight as a sign that they are being left out of the conversation. YouTube is working to address this issue, but it may take time for the platform to fully adjust its algorithm.

While the idea of a trend can be intimidating for marketers, it is still possible to leverage this tool to gain visibility in the public discourse and engage customers in a meaningful and authentic way. It just takes a little effort and understanding of how to best use the tools at your disposal. And of course, it is always important to never value popularity or attention above your own or others’ safety and well-being.