The Trend is Your Friend

At the end of the year, the list of the most popular terms searched on Google was again presented in the media. As every year, this gave a refreshing idea of the local internet users’ interests. The source for this compilation is Google Trends, a powerful tool provided by the data giant for research into user behaviour on the world's largest search engine. However, this tool offers a lot more than this ranking across all types of searches. On the one hand, it allows searching developments of specific search terms and topics over the course of time in a very targeted manner. On the other hand, it can also be used to make meaningful comparisons in which competing or related topics are compared with one other.

If, for example, we ask ourselves how much interest Instagram generates compared to Facebook and how this ratio has changed over the past two years, Google Trends will tell us all we want to know.

Globally, Facebook's overweight shrank from 100:10 to 50:10 measured by Instagram. Google notes the following about how to read the diagram: "The values indicate the search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the selected region in the specified time period." The Google Trend curve is therefore always based on the maximum value that has been reached to date. The example of Pokémon impressively illustrates the extent to which trends sometimes continue to tumble following their climax:

As is still fresh in our memory, Pokémon Go conquered the screens of all smartphone users enthusiastic about games back in the summer of 2016. This hype can be equally well traced from the diagram as the subsequent lull. No less interesting, however, are cyclical highs and lows that can be significant for digital marketing. The reason being that there are topics whose popularity shows strong fluctuations depending on the season. If you take a closer look at the topic of storytelling, for example, you will see that the trend curve reaches a striking trough every year. Every year precisely at Christmas time the stories seem to leave us completely cold and we turn to more contemplative stories beyond from the media. (Or we simply cannot find the time with all the gifts to buy).

In addition to time factors, regional differences must also be taken into account in particular. Let us take a look at the topic of influencer marketing in Switzerland. If you compare it with the topic of social media, a clear trend can be detected.

Influencer marketing as a topic of its own has gained a lot of ground and is practically on a par with social media. If we now map the data for Spain, the development has gone much further. Influencer marketing has clearly prevailed among Spanish users in favour of social media.

Although the topics storytelling and social media overlap strongly, such insights are important in content marketing, for example. Contents that are more oriented towards the "influencer marketing" keyword than "social media" are far more successful in Spain. This remains crucial not least from an SEO perspective, since Google answers searches with as relevant and suitable results as possible.

The example of the UK finally shows that in-depth research is indispensable. The same diagram for the region of the United Kingdom reveals how big the differences can be within Europe. The interests of English and Scottish users are inversely distributed compared to those of Spanish users. Such a small presence of the influencer marketing buzzwords in an English-speaking region would not be expected at all from Swiss perspective. In the US, these curves are similar.

Last but not least, a sporting event for Swiss football fans: the race for first place in the Super League this year will again be clearly dominated by BSC Young Boys. Does this also affect the interest in the clubs in the search engines? A glance at the trend map does away with any doubt...

To exploit the potential of data-driven digital marketing, it is therefore advisable to look beyond individual current highlights and focus on developments and backgrounds. To this end, topics should be compared with each other and temporal factors as well as regional differences taken into account. Then the data really begin to present a narrative and the relevant trends become apparent.