Trending, like selfie, twerking and bromance (yes they are in the dictionary) is a phrase that is a relatively new addition to our vocabulary, mainly due to the rise of social media. It can refer to a photo, topic, hashtag, an App etc that is undergoing a sudden increase in popularity and interest. It is a tool that can be used to inform and shape business strategy.

Most of us will be familiar with Twitter’s ‘Trending’ feature; a list of keywords and topics that are popular on the platform at any given time. Trending is based on an algorithm that uses factors such as the number of people searching for a particular keyword or hashtag, retweets and overall engagement to determine what appears in this list. This can be very useful when planning a campaign or simply trying to get your brand seen by a wider audience.

For example, during the 2014 Grammy’s there was a large number of tweets using #grammys. This spike in activity caused the hashtag to appear as a trend on Twitter and it was then easy for anyone to see and follow this conversation. Trends are often created by events or news stories but can also be the result of specific searches, or simply what people are talking about in their own feeds.

There are many different tools to analyse and measure trends, but one of the most straightforward is Google’s Trends feature. This is available on their homepage and shows worldwide searches for particular keywords over a set period of time. It is possible to filter by country and personalize the search which can be helpful for businesses looking to target a specific market or demographic.

However, this kind of data can also be misleading if you are not careful. For example, Myspace was at it’s peak around 2008 with 100 million users but now has a mere 36 million and is valued at $35 million by the News Corp who bought it back in 2011. This would have been a good opportunity to ride the trend of the social network and gain some new followers, but instead, News Corp decided to cash in and leave them high and dry.

YouTube is another platform that allows you to watch the latest trends in videos from across the world. This can be particularly interesting when you are a content creator. Some channels that focus on news or current affairs can see their video trending in a particular region of the world. But there is no human curation of this list, and the content will often change quickly as the algorithms evolve. This can be frustrating for some creators, such as Felix Kjellberg, better known by his online persona PewDiePie.