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Published January 19th 2017

How to Identify Market Trends Online Using Tools and Resources

There are several methods and tools for spotting the latest market trends, and Kit Smith is giving us the lowdown on the best places to hunt them down.

Anyone who has watched a western knows that if you put your ear to the ground and hear a faint rumbling, it’s the signal of an oncoming trend. Bison are in the area, and if you stick around long enough you will soon see that trend materialize, like poor Simba in the Lion King.

Identifying market trends is largely about keeping your ear to the floor, listening out for the distant rumble of approaching shifts of direction in your industry.

If you are truly immersing yourself in your industry, you are going to start to notice new concepts and themes coming up with increasing regularity. By reading widely, subscribing to newsletters, attending industry events, and networking with relevant people, market trends will begin to reveal themselves.

However, B2C brands will often be interested in wider trends outside their industry. Others simply don’t have the time to keep up with enough literature to identify market trends themselves.

Luckily, there are several methods and tools for spotting the latest trends. Some of the methods listed here are tools specifically built for identifying market trends that will do that work for you. Others are online spaces where trends will surface if you look for them, although it might be more time consuming.

Identifying market trends by reading

Predictions blog posts

If you don’t have time to keep up with the latest news, go to someone who does. Particularly at the beginning of the year, the internet is awash with predictions and market trends posts. These are written by experts who spend their whole year neck deep in the latest in their industry news, so can summarize their findings in one handy trends post.


Trending on Buzzfeed features articles such as Create A Sandwich And We’ll Reveal A Deep Truth About You. But BuzzFeed also brought The Dress to the internet’s attention. You might have to wade through some irrelevant posts, but you may also find some gems lurking in amongst them.


Mashable curates stories from around the web and the homepage features a “What’s Rising” section. The articles also feature the Mashable velocity graph which shows how quickly people are sharing the stories across the social web.


With its system of upvotes and views, Reddit prioritizes popular stories. The subreddits mean that you can search for the most relevant discussions to you. There is also a Trending Reddits subreddit if you just want to find the latest big stories.


Subscribing to relevant newsletters is an easy and low effort way to keep up to date with the latest developments in your field. Search out the most relevant ones for you. If you want a daily overview of the most popular news from around the web, I highly recommend Next Draft from Dave Pell.


Alltop curates the top headlines from popular topics around the web. You can also create your own account choosing which of the 32K sources you want to stay up to date on.

Discovering market trends on social media

Trends on Twitter

There are two ways of discovering trends on Twitter. The first is Moments. This is a curated list of the most important stories at that time, with an explanation and selected tweets. The second is only available if you have an account. By default it is personalized based on your location and who you follow, increasing it’s relevance. You can change the settings to view overall trends, or trends specific to a different location.

Facebook Trending

On the right-hand side of your News Feed is a tailored Trending section. The content displayed depends on your likes, follows, activity and all the rest of the data Facebook hold about you. The stories are grouped into top trends, politics, science and tech, sports, and entertainment

YouTube trends

YouTube features trending videos, accessed in the menu on the left of the homepage. If you head to the bottom of the page, you can change your country to see what’s trending in other locations.

Snapchat Discover

Snapchat allows you to discover trending stories with just a couple of swipes.

Pinterest Trending

Pinterest has discovery and trends at the heart of the experience. Clicking the compass icon reveals ‘Today’s Picks’ and a whole list of trending topics split into categories.

Identifying market trends with tools

Google Trends

The landing page of Trends has a list of popular stories, along with the associated search terms. Each story has a graph to show you the velocity of the trend. You can also sort by categories, or simply enter a search term to check it’s changing popularity over time.


BuzzSumo is a tool for discovering popular and trending content, influencers, and backlinks. The trending stories are organized into categories and feature a trending score to tell you how quickly they are being shared.

Anyone without an account can still use the tool, although it shows limited results and allows a limited number of searches. The ability to search for any topic and then filter by date range gives you another option for uncovering trends, or you can enter a URL and discover their top content.


Used for PPC advertising, Google AdWords will give you keyword volume and features a graph showing the changing interest over time. You can use AdWords in conjunction with Trends to identify the specific numbers behind trending topics.

Ask a young person

Because young people know all the things that are on fleek way before you do. By the time you hear of a new meme or word a young person has probably long since stopped using it. Like the phrase ‘on fleek’, now I think about it.


Trendwatching is a paid service that surfaces consumer and market trends by using a network of over 3,000 spotters. Prices start at £449/month, although they do have some free insights on the website if you don’t want to pay.

Identifying market trends with social intelligence

The above tools are all free, but free tools come with limitations. The first is that you are going to have to wade through a lot of cat videos before you find anything relevant to your industry. Maybe that’s a plus for you. It’s certainly not productive, though.

Using a social intelligence tool, like Brandwatch Analytics, for discovering trending topics on social media means you can be a lot more specific about the type of trends you want to unearth. You could either be looking at social trends within a particular topic, or trends within a particular topic.


Signals are intelligent email alerts that notify you when there are significant or unexpected changes in your dataset. These emails happen automatically, so you are not required to know what changes you’re looking for in advance.

It’s great for unearthing trending topics on social media you might otherwise have missed. The email alert includes details of what triggered the Signal. You can click through to a dashboard in Brandwatch Analytics that will provide a more in-depth breakdown.


Brandwatch Audiences can surface trending topics on social media, but crucially, within an audience you have defined.

Trending topics on Brandwatch AudiencesYou start by searching Twitter bios, Tweets, gender, profession, interests, account type (individual or organization), and location. Once you have created the audience you are interested in, there is a trending topics tab which will show you trending images, stories and hashtags.

You can also export the audience into Brandwatch Analytics to do some further digging into the topics they are talking about. You can even set up Signals for that particular group of people, to be alerted to any emerging trends.

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