In the dynamic landscape of PR and marketing, the ability to shape and capitalise on trends is
vital for successful campaigns. In fact, shaping and capitalising on both industry trends and
consumer trends (rather than just responding), has numerous benefits. Stronger campaign
performance, a competitive edge, and increased brand health to name a few. The ability to
accomplish this comes from trend tracking. To track trends effectively, you need to leverage tech
that’s designed for the task. This is where social listening tools play a pivotal role.
In this blog, we’ll dive into how a social listening tool tracks industry and consumer trends.
After that, we’ll break down the five ways trend tracking helps PR and marketing pros, as
the title suggests. Through this list, we’ll help you distinguish what must-have features you need
in a social listening platform.
How does a social listening tool track trends?
Social listening tools track trends by systematically monitoring and analysing mainstream and
social media conversations across platforms in real-time. These tools use advanced algorithms
to sift through vast amounts of data. And they collect invaluable insights by utilising AI tech such
as smart tagging, sentiment analysis, and visual listening. This tech identifies and categorises
keywords, hashtags, and mentions related to particular subjects. These insights help brands
understand what’s being said about them. Additionally, these insights reveal emerging industry
and consumer trends.
Trend tracking with a social listening tool will ultimately inform your brand strategies and benefit
you in numerous ways. Let’s delve more into this below.
What happens when you shape and capitalise on trends: The 5
When you utilise this proactive approach and begin to shape and capitalise on trends, you gain
five key capabilities. These capabilities work in harmony to make your PR and marketing
campaigns even more successful. Trend tracking with a social listening tool allows you to:
1. Anticipate where to develop your thought leadership content,
2. Identify influencers and track their impact on your consumers,
3. Discover where there’s space for message development,
4. Find out where can you lead the conversation and build brand trust and authority,
5. Understand how you benchmark against competitors regarding share of voice on
emerging issues and industry developments.
Let’s break each of these points down and highlight the essential social listening tool features
that enable them.
Anticipate where to develop your thought leadership content
Identifying emerging topics: Social listening tools monitor conversations across social media
platforms. By cataloguing this activity, the tool helps brands identify emerging topics and
discussions within their industry. By analysing these conversations, you can spot industry trends
and identify areas where your expertise can contribute valuable insights. This proactive
approach allows for the timely development of thought leadership content on relevant and
Understanding Audience Interests: Social listening tools enable brands to understand the
interests and preferences of their target audience. By analysing the concepts that resonate most
with audiences, you can tailor your brand’s thought leadership content to align. This ensures
your content not only addresses current consumer trends but also resonates with your
audience, making it more impactful.
Did you know 73 percent of respondents expect companies to understand their unique needs
and expectations? This is according to a May 2022 Salesforce report. On top of that, 62 percent
of respondents think companies should anticipate their needs.
This is a strong indicator to integrate these social listening tactics into your PR and marketing
Monitoring competitor strategies: Social listening tools can be used beyond tracking your
brand mentions and activities. It can also monitor the activities and strategies of competitors. By
understanding what industry trends competitors are engaging with, you can identify areas where
your brand can add perspective.
It will also allow you to gain a generally clearer picture of your competitive landscape. From
here, you can better craft thought leadership content that stands out in a crowded digital space.
Monitoring keywords and hashtags: Trend tracking includes monitoring keywords and
hashtags that are relevant to your industry or brand. By analysing the frequency and sentiment
of these keywords, you can gain insights into what concepts are gaining traction. This helps
identify developing industry trends and consumer trends to inform your comms strategy. You
can leverage this info to create thought leadership content that’s timely and optimised for social
Identify influencers and track their impact on your consumers
Influencer discovery: By monitoring conversations across various platforms, social listening
tools also help identify influencers with a voice in your industry. By tracking mentions,
engagement levels, and the reach of certain individuals, you can pinpoint influencers whose
opinions and content is most relevant to your brand and target audience.
The social listening platform you utilise for this will ideally have filter and sort features. For
example, with Onclusive’s social listening platform, you can filter and sort brand mentions by
geography, reach, engagement, and tone. This helps you greatly in identifying the most relevant
An important action here is to also monitor detractors (individuals speaking negatively about
your brand, industry, or topic). You need to understand who they are and their concerns so you
develop strategies to turn them into advocates.
Audience engagement analysis: Social listening also enables you to analyse how influencers
engage with your audience. This includes the type of content they share, the sentiment of
audience responses, and the overall impact of their messages. Additionally, you can analyse
metrics such as followers, likes, and shares to gauge the extent of an influencer’s impact,
whether positive or negative.
With this info, you can also identify opportunities to develop and nurture online communities.
Discover where there’s space for message development
Identifying conversational gaps: Similarly to identifying gaps in competitor content, monitoring
and analysing online conversations helps you identify gaps in industry info. This presents an
opportunity for your brand to fill empty space with relevant and valuable messages.
Spotting emerging topics and themes:
Likewise, trend tracking enables brands to stay updated on emerging topics and themes within
their industry or niche. By identifying these developing industry trends early on, brands can get
in on the ground floor, so to speak.
Analysing audience sentiment: Audience sentiment analysis is a brilliant way to uncover opportunities for message
development. By analysing audience sentiment, you can better understand how people
generally feel about specific topics. This insight will be invaluable in guiding message
development that addresses concerns or contributes to online discussions.
Find out where can you lead the conversation and build brand trust and
Spotting gaps in information: Trend tracking can help your brand be the first voice in a space.
It does this by identifying gaps in information or areas where there is confusion within industries.
You can and should capitalise on this by providing clarity, reliable information, solutions, and
innovative insights. This is a golden opportunity to establish brand authority.
Understanding audience needs: Similarly to analysing audience sentiment, social listening
tools provide insights into audience preferences and needs. It does this by pinpointing and
categorising consumer trends. By understanding what your target audience is looking for, your
brand can lead conversations by addressing these needs proactively. This approach fosters
trust and can position your brand as a reliable source for customers.
And don’t forget 73 percent of respondents from the Salesforce report expect companies to
understand their unique needs and expectations. So you’ll want to pay attention to consumer
Understand how you benchmark against competitors regarding share of
voice on emerging issues and industry developments.
Social listening tools enable brands to monitor and analyse the online presence and
conversations of their competitors. By tracking competitors’ mentions, engagement, and
sentiment, brands can gain insights into how they compare in terms of share of voice on
emerging issues. This competitive analysis forms the basis for benchmarking against industry
Tracking media mentions:
With a social listening tool, you can easily track media mentions related to your industry and
competitors. Monitoring media coverage provides a quantitative measure of share of voice
across social networks. In addition to reach and frequency, you can measure the tone of media
mentions to benchmark your performance against competitors.
Sentiment Analysis Across Competitors:
The sentiment analysis feature of social listening also plays a pivotal role here. Using sentiment
analysis, you can evaluate how sentiments surrounding your brand compare to those of
competitors. By analysing positive, negative, and neutral sentiments of competitors, you can
gauge how they’re shaping audience perceptions.
Trend Tracking with Social Listening
The proactive approach to trend tracking, facilitated by robust social listening tools, equips PR
and marketing professionals with invaluable insights. By anticipating emerging topics, identifying
influencers, discovering messaging opportunities, leading conversations, and benchmarking
against competitors, you can elevate your PR and marketing campaigns and establish stronger
brand authority. Experience the above five impact points for yourself! Integrate social listening
into your comms strategy today and begin shaping and capitalising on consumer and industry