Tired of always being out of the loop? It’s amazing how quickly information can spread from person to person these days thanks to the Internet and social media. New ideas, websites, videos, and all manner of content can be seen by millions of people overnight, which mean that trends are being appearing and disappearing faster than ever before. Is it possible to keep up?
The short answer is yes — with a catch. If you consume web media for hours per day, sure, it’s easy to stay on top of the latest trends and memes. But what if you don’t have much time — say, one hour max per day — and you don’t want to lag behind the times? It depends on the context.
If you want to stay up to date on the world of aeronautics, there might not be any other answer than reading up on lots of aeronautical journals, magazines, and websites. But if you want to stay up to date on social trends and viral media, there are some wonderful websites that can help.
There’s no better place to start looking for Internet trends than Google Trends. As one of the largest information companies in the world, Google has access to huge amounts of data. The sheer vastness of their data collection has led some to boycott and quit Google. It’s something of a double-edged sword.
Google Trends lets you see the hottest trends in Google Search. You’ll see the most popular search queries over the last few days or by specifying a particular date going as far back as 2004. You can filter these trends regionally by selecting from two dozen different countries.
And then there’s the Top Charts feature, which shows you the top searches according to categories: Actors, Athletes, Books, Cocktails, Games, Reality Shows, Songs, etc. Not only can you keep up with current trends in search, you can view how those trends developed over the past decade. Nifty!
With YouTube being owned by Google, it makes sense that you’d be able to find lots of trending data directly on the YouTube site. It’s called YouTube Trends and it’s pretty interesting to browse, yet I’m often surprised at how many people don’t know that this section of YouTube exists.
The basic gist of the page is that it will show you the most popular videos by city and region. You can filter by Male or Female to see which videos are most popular with either. You can also filter by age demographic, which turns out to be quite fascinating, as well as Shares or Views to toggle between highly watched videos and highly shared videos. (Yes, those are two different things.)
On the Trends dashboard, you can compare the trending videos from multiple locations and age demographics. Unfortunately, YouTube Trends is not a complete service yet (an unfinished Google product? Shocking!) so it only tracks data in the United States for now.
If you’re interested in YouTube trends outside of the United States, then Viral Video Chart might be the site for you. What they do is very simple: they track the number of shares on YouTube videos and rank the top 100. Trends can be filtered over the last day, last week, last month, last year, or all time.
Viral Video Chart is useful for anyone who wants to keep up with the latest viral videos on YouTube without spending much time. In fact, you can digest the whole list of videos in just a few minutes if that’s all the time you have. It’s no surprise that most of the top shared videos are music videos, but every so often you’ll find a real gem of a video.
When it comes to trending, Twitter is one service that already tracks all of their trends for you in the sidebar. It’s not very informative though as it’s just a list of ten or so terms that are recently popular in tweets. Most trends are simple hashtags that require you to do a bit of research to find out what they mean.
Trendsmap is a service that expands on the whole Twitter trends idea. The site is a world map overlaid with various trending terms on Twitter according to region. The terms actually grow and shrink in size depending on how popular they are, which is useful for seeing global Twitter trends at a glance.
And the best part: Trendsmap can zoom in and out and will update the visible terms on the map. The more you zoom in, the more specific the trending terms become since they are localized to a smaller region.
What other sites do you use to keep up with the latest social trends? Do you think trends are worth keeping up with? Or do you prefer to avoid them? Share with us in the comments!