Marketers are in the business of predicting future trends. But before you conjure up images of Nostradamus or Zoltar, we’re talking about data-backed predictions, not the more supernatural variety. Thankfully, Facebook has made our jobs easier with their first ‘Annual Topics and Trends Report.’
Facebook’s IQ team has been compiling monthly reports titled ‘Topics to Watch’ and ‘Hot Topics’ for a while now. But now the IQ team has sifted through all their data to produce this annual report of topics and trends to watch in 2018.
The strength of Facebook’s predictions comes from the sheer volume of data they have access to. With 2 billion users, they can keep a close watch on the latest trend movement across the entire world. And now they have turned an entire year’s worth of data into insights for marketers with the Facebook annual topics and trends report.
While Facebook used worldwide data, the focus is on the US market – which should be representative of most Western markets. The data trends focus on conversations over time – from January of 2016 to October of 2017. Some of the included charts lack the precision I hoped for from one of the biggest companies in the world, but it’s hard to complain when they are providing us free data.
Friendly Facebook Data
The Facebook annual topics and trends report includes seven categories: beauty & fashion, commerce, culture, entertainment, food & drink, mind & body, and technology. Within each category, there are three sub-categories with three focus point each. For the mathematically challenged among us, that is 63 unique trends and topics that Facebook is helping us track and predict.
Each trend features three points of data: conversations over time, age, and sex. While there is nothing revolutionary here, it does provide a good baseline for tracking trends among a broadly-defined target audience. Say you’re looking to move your warehouse full of bell-bottom jeans, then you’re in luck! Facebook has provided you with the following insights:
With this data, you can take comfort in the fact that conversations have seen a 23x growth. And you can use the age and sex data to target your audience – in this case, women across age groups (but trending young).
For event-based trends, the data looks a little different. In these cases, the data tracks conversations from 15 days before the event to 15 days after. For instance, check out the 7.7x growth of ‘Singles’ Day’ between 2016 and 2017:
The most actionable data is with the trends, but event data can help shape your content calendar and holiday marketing in 2018.
There is some great data-based insight available in this report from Facebook, but that doesn’t mean we should blindly follow their suggestions. These are merely predictions, and Facebook itself claims an 80% success rate at predicting trends – impressive, but not perfect.
I’ll be saving this report and returning to it in 2018 to see how Facebook did at predicting upcoming trends. But I think the value of this report is more in the larger trends and less in the specific keywords used in the study. While the Enneagram of Personality probably won’t maintain a 22.1x growth rate, the larger interest in the intersection of personality, relationships, and careers will continue into 2018.
This means that we, as marketers, shouldn’t get caught up in chasing popular 2017 trends and instead look ahead to the next big thing. What will be the Enneagram of 2018? The Myotherapy (30.1x)? The Stranger Things (753x)? Getting ahead of trends is what separates the successful marketer from the hordes of trend chasers.
So, see this report as inspiration rather than prescription. You can chase the passing trends of 2017, or you can look ahead and see how they will shift over the next twelve months. That is, you can rest on what has worked in the past or you can help to shape the future. Choose a marketing company that fits your vision.
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