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Modern journalists always have an eye on social media to see which stories are trending and why. Do you want to track social media trends like the professionals do?

Tracking trending topics on social media is beneficial for news-gathering, and can really help you learn more about topics you’re interested in.

For example, journalists have taken to social media Should Journalists Use or Ignore Social Media? Two Examples to Think About Should Journalists Use or Ignore Social Media? Two Examples to Think About Some see social networking as a valuable tool for reporting; others thing it does nothing but misleader reports. What do you think? Read More to better reach their audiences and to keep up with trends, which can be vital for their careers. For a journalist, following a trending topic can help them break the next big story or provide them with more information about a current story. The use of social media by journalists has revolutionized the way the news is told.

Why Everyone Should Track Trending Topics on Social Media

As explained above, journalists use social media to learn more about an event unfolding. They find what’s posted online to better investigate and reach out to those involved in a story, which can sometimes be a major international event.

Trending topics on social media are also tracked by marketers and business professionals, who use social tools to better reach their targeted market, which can bring them a bigger return.

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Tracking a trending topic can also be important for everyday situations, as it can help anyone better understand a subject they might be interested in. For example, movie stars may leak information on Twitter, a scientist might explain his latest research on Reddit’s AMA series, or a photographer might share the next big picture on Instagram. Knowing how to track these topics can mean that you’ll never miss out on what you find important.

Easily Follow Trends on Facebook

At one time (and it still may be available to some users) Facebook had an option for people to check out what was trending. The option was presented on the sidebar and showed topics that were picking up steam.

Now, if you want to find what’s trending on Facebook, you have to do some digging.

The best way to keep up on the trends is to follow your favorite brands, news agencies, celebrities, and journalists. They’ve been given access (via Facebook Mentions Facebook Live Debuts Real-Time Mobile Video Broadcasts (But Only for Celebs) Facebook Live Debuts Real-Time Mobile Video Broadcasts (But Only for Celebs) For celebrities, showing is better than telling. Facebook Live lets public figures broadcast a video, and fans get to interact with them in real time. Read More ) to better reach out to their followers through live video streams How Facebook Is Changing News Journalism – For The Better How Facebook Is Changing News Journalism – For The Better News outlets are considering publishing stories straight to Facebook. It's easy to be cynical. But this change could be a good thing – for readers and journalists. Read More and other updates, which may or may not be a good thing Facebook Wants to Be the News Site of the Future, and That's Awful Facebook Wants to Be the News Site of the Future, and That's Awful Getting publishers on board could potentially bring Facebook's nightmarish vision to a whole new level. It's a horrible idea. Horrible for the Internet, and even worse for journalism. Here's why. Read More .

Another way to follow the trends on Facebook is through a tool called Signal, which can be used by journalists (and only journalists) to find and organize content from a variety of topics.

With the right content tracked, journalists can then embed their findings online and integrate them into their broadcasts, which can help bring more information to a story. This revolutionary social media tool can help journalists do what they already do, but do it much better.

Why is this a big deal? When used at its maximum, Signal can help journalists follow more stories and better engage their audiences when an important story is breaking, as soon as it is breaking.

The only catch is that it is only available to a “subset of journalists,” as it was explained to me when I requested access just recently.

For anyone that can’t gain access, you can take advantage of other tools or methods so that you’ll never miss out on what’s important to you.

Easily Know the Trends on Instagram

Instagram is a little better, and has more than a few things to say about tracking topics and identifying trends on its service.

To follow a trend, type the hashtag term you want to identify into the search bar and click on your desired term. You’ll see a list of terms and the number of times that hashtag has been used on Instagram.

And don’t worry if you don’t know what to search, you’ll see other related terms after searching for your original item.

You can also check out top-hashtags.com to find what hashtags are trending the most on Instagram. And just like Facebook, be sure to follow your favorite brands or people.

Track Topics on Twitter

Twitter is one of the most important social tools for tracking trends, as many people around the world (where it’s accessible) take to Twitter to share their experiences online, which can sometimes be very newsworthy.

To get the most from Twitter, it is important to use its advanced search function.

In addition, it’s also a good idea to create lists, which can help you better organize who and what you see Most Influential Twitter List: Which World Leaders Made the Cut? Most Influential Twitter List: Which World Leaders Made the Cut? A recently released report examined the most followed world leaders, most influential, most active and social media trends surrounding the A-listers. Some of their findings might surprise you. Read More . Hootsuite and TweetDeck are great tools  for this.

Twitter list screenshot

Trendsmap is also a very cool tool, as it shows you the latest trends from anywhere in the world in real-time. Registering for the site is free, and using the site is easy.

Don’t Forget About Google

Google Trends is also especially important for tracking trending topics, and can be sent right to your email Catch The Buzz: Google Trends Offers Email Notifications Catch The Buzz: Google Trends Offers Email Notifications Stay in the know with email notifications for Google Trends. You can now subscribe to your favorite search topics, "hot trends" for any country, and the U.S. monthly top charts. Read More . For journalists, Google News Lab is invaluable and can help journalists discover stories and better broadcast to their audience.

For content creators, Google Correlate can be a life saver. As explained on its site, it’s like Google Trends “but in reverse.” The tool uses what’s trending and then displays other words that can be used in relation to your original term.

For example, searching “travel” will display other terms like “condominium,” which can be used together to attract a wider audience.

Google also identifies trends on YouTube, which can be cool and somewhat useful if you’re curious about what’s popular on the video site.

Be sure to checkout their Dashboard, which contains a trending blog and map. You can search and pinpoint what you think is important to follow.

YouTube trending map

Start Tracking Trends

As said earlier, tracking trending topics can help anyone better understand a subject they might be interested in. It’s an important tool, and can be used by journalists, business professionals, or anyone wanting to discover what’s going on in the world.

What you do with that information is up to you.

Do you find trending topics important? Does it help you discover news and events? How do you track trending topics on social media? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

  1. Michael Donovan
    April 6, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    I honestly believe "trending" and "following trends" is the ultimate in follow-the-leader. It's ultimately letting others decide what YOU (and your readers, etc.) need to be talking about. Plus, if I followed everything in this article I would be so worn out with it all by the end of the day, I wouldn't have the energy to write or do whatever with all the content.

    Wow, to think my dad just had to wait for the morning and afternoon papers to hit the door, watch the evening news from one of three networks, and otherwise catch the news on the radio at the top-of-the-hour newscasts.

    Today, it takes too much to keep up with keeping up.

    • Peter Fitzsimmons
      April 6, 2016 at 9:12 pm

      I think that is the point of this article.
      We no longer have to rely on what the papers or the TV tells us. We now have the opportunity to find out info and breaking news in a way WE want to and without the filters that any given news organisation may have, be it a left wing view point or a right wing view point.

      Giving those of us, who want to be able to find out more info, before it hits the 9 o'clock news allows us to hear and see more of what is actually happening and become better informed.

      Nobody is saying you have to use every single option on this article, but it does show that there are many different ways of fact finding on different types of social media.

      I remember the days of waiting for the evening news, or reading the papers the next day but now I much prefer to find out more information on the things that are important to me without all the filler and guff that surrounds it.

      • Shay Meinecke
        April 8, 2016 at 3:19 pm

        Thanks for your comment Peter, and I like how you put it. Being better informed is the name of the game here, and hopefully a few of these tips might help in you or someone's search.

        • fcd76218
          April 9, 2016 at 5:02 pm

          "Being better informed is the name of the game here"
          But are you better informed?
          By following trends, you are abrogating thinking for yourself and letting someone else tell you what opinions to have. You have just become a mindless follower, a sheep. Just because millions of people think that the exploits of Kim Kardashian or Lindsey Lohan are important does not make it so.

          "The use of social media by journalists has revolutionized the way the news is told."
          And that is the problem with today's "news." It is told, not reported. Report the facts and let the audience make up their own minds. Unfortunately, journalists cannot help but to filter the facts through the prism of their biases and journalists using social media trends just compounds the problem. The news that we get is now double digested and regurgitated; first by whoever determines the trend and second time by the journalist.

      • fcd76218
        April 9, 2016 at 5:09 pm

        @Peter Fitzsimmons:
        "Giving those of us, who want to be able to find out more info"
        More info does not mean necessarily 'better informed.' There is too much info out there for anyone to absorb, let alone process. There is a principle in data processing know as GIGO - Garbage in, garbage out. That is what most of today's 'news' is, garbage.

        • Peter Fitzsimmons
          April 10, 2016 at 3:00 pm

          @fcd76218

          It's true that there is a lot of rubbish out there, posing as news. But without having the ability to sift through news and opinion it would be almost impossible to detect what is fact and what is skewed by opinion.
          The only way I know of doing that is by having access to various different news outlets, be it news websites, blogs, etc...

          This article gives just a few examples of how to cut out the rubbish and find responsible and factual events not just from the well known, but also - in the case of twitter, from real people who are there at the events that are happening and can often give an unbiased view of what is real and actually happening in - almost - real time.

    • Shay Meinecke
      April 8, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      Thank you for your comment. Much like Peter said, you hear a limited amount of news if you rely only on what the newspapers, radio, and TV tell you. Nowadays, we have the opportunity to learn about all kinds of events from all over the world. Pretty cool

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