The Consumer Intelligence Blog - Infegy

5 Key Factors For Spotting Consumer Trends With Social Listening

Fellow trendspotter! You live your life in data and you need to keep track of the next breakout consumer trends for your brand or business. You may have already turned to social analytics tools to watch a trend about to go viral online ahead of time. But sometimes social media research carries with it some barriers to finding consumer trends quickly and accurately.

Many of our clients use Infegy Atlas to catch and identify trends in the early stages for their organization or their clients, and we know this to be true: using social listening to understand consumer behavior is the best way to understand or even predict consumer behavior online. Whether you’re new to using social listening for consumer trends research or looking for a refresh, there are some key considerations to know to optimize your social listening research.


Why Social Listening is Good at Finding Consumer Trends

The next big trend is about to take off at any given moment. Where do trends start in the post-digital world? Online. Who starts those trends? People - talking online.


A breakout trend will usually develop on social channels and forums. Sometimes it's a slow build. Other times it will skyrocket overnight. Using a social listening platform for your consumer research can help you discover those trends in the early stages, before it’s too late. With the right social listening strategy, you can get instant results for your research queries, and with the right listening tools you can dig into specific audiences, channels, demographics, and more. 


The nature of online conversation makes this consumer trends research possible. People sound off on new products, trends, viral videos. And since these conversations are unsolicited, you’re finding truly organic trends! But before you start, remember these 5 key things:


1. Different Channels Have Different Uses (And Trends Happen On Some Channels Before Others)

People interact differently based on who they are or which platform they are using. Think about moms and DIYers on Pinterest or gaming reviewers on Reddit. These audiences have different use cases and experiences. They might be the ones to start a new trend based on their respective natural habitats. 


For example, amongst groups like millennial moms or on topics for CPG and grocery categories, grassroots trends often take flight on Pinterest. As we present in our consumer trends guide, Pinterest may offer the best channel to analyze if you want to find trends involving these groups early.


However, it’s not the only channel worth looking at. Infegy’s TikTok data increasingly shows emerging trends in a fashion similar to Pinterest given its DIY/approachable nature. Can you think of a trend that started on TikTok? Consider analyzing TikTok data, in addition to Pinterest, to identify trends early in the product life cycle.


2. Don't Dismiss Reddit

TikTok is a natural place to look for trends because of its viral nature. But consumers talk all the time about their plans to buy products on Reddit. A trend on Reddit won’t be the same as that on TikTok or Pinterest. Instead, it’s a little more subtle. People, especially young people, express high amounts of purchase intent on Reddit making it a perfect place to spot a hiding trend in the early stages.


Additionally, with Reddit’s specialized sub-channels there really is a subReddit for everything. For example, maybe you want to find the next trendy bicycle. In the image below, a buyer identifies their intent to purchase a specific product. The post also shows how they plan to use the product, and they will make their decision based on reviews. How does this help us? The additional detail provides context to what is important to bicycle buyers and opens a direct line of feedback from other buyers.


SubReddit thread showing purchase intent for bicycles.


3. Analyze Specific Audience Segments to Reveal Underground Trends

Identifying the niche audiences who love a product gives a powerful insight into who a brand’s most consistent advocates are and improves your ability to predict behavior accurately. Instead of only focusing on increasing consumer numbers, evaluate your core consumer audience preferences by searching for audience patterns and grouping them into segments.


Our social listening tool is tailor-made for this type of research and we have a few guides on building on audience segments with social listening here:


How to Build Audience Personas and Key Factors to Social Media Audience Segmentation


4. Refine and Tweak Based on Your Category

Remember, some categories like gaming may have massive amounts of online conversation, while others such as oil fragrances may have a smaller volume. Both offer the potential for using social listening to identify trends, but it will take tweaking your research to do so. 


For categories that have massive social volume, you’ll need to refine your audience to filter noise. For more niche industries, you’ll need to expand your search to have enough volume for analysis.


5. Keep in Mind How Audiences Talk and How Trends Change

Online audiences talk about products and lifestyles in different ways, and the conversation will evolve over time. You might have searched for trends in “smartphones” in 2010, whereas today that term is no longer commonplace. You’ll want to search online conversations for branded terms like iPhone and Android. Before researching a trend within a category, consider the situational context and how people actually communicate online.



There you have it: an essential list of “keep-in-minds'' for finding consumer trends on social media using social listening. Taking these factors into consideration throughout your research will set you up to find those trends early.


These aren’t the only tips we have on spotting consumer trends. If you’d like to see how our social listening platform can be a game-changer for your own unique situation, click here and our team will set up a customized demo just for you!