How to Spot Social Media Trends & Start Your Own



In our ever-evolving digital landscape, social media has become a driving force behind cultural trends and consumer behaviors. The power dynamics have shifted, and it is no longer just the marketers who set the trends; it is the consumers themselves who dictate the direction. This paradigm shift presents both a challenge and an opportunity for businesses and marketers.

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To stay ahead of the game and make an impact, it is crucial to not only spot emerging social media trends but also to harness their potential to propel your brand forward.

In this blog post, we will explore the dynamics of social media trends, the importance of embracing customer-driven trends, the fast-paced nature of platforms like TikTok, the origins and types of trends, and why creating a trend strategy is essential in today’s competitive landscape. Get ready to dive into the world of social media trends and discover how you can navigate this dynamic landscape to make a lasting impact on your audience.

We’re Cycling Through Trends Faster Than Ever

From the earliest human communities to the modern age, trends have been an integral part of our social fabric. They shape our culture, influence our behaviors, and provide a sense of belonging. Throughout history, the anatomy of a trend has remained relatively consistent. What has drastically transformed, however, is the speed at which trends emerge and evolve.

With each new communication tool we create, the lifespan of a trend continues to shrink, and the trend cycle accelerates at an unprecedented pace. In today’s digital age, one platform stands out as the epitome of rapid trend cycling: TikTok. With its constant stream of bite-sized content and viral challenges, TikTok has revolutionized how trends are born, spread, and fade away.

TikTok Shares 3 Types of Trends

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To better understand the dynamic nature of trends and their origins, TikTok has provided a useful framework that categorizes trends into three distinct types: forces, signals, and moments. Each type represents a different stage in the life cycle of a trend, showcasing its evolution from a long-term cultural shift to a fleeting moment of popularity.

1. Forces

At the foundation of all trends lie forces, which are the long-term cultural shifts that impact society as a whole. In the past, forces could persist for a decade or more, but in today’s fast-paced trend economy, they may only last a few years. Forces shape the way we connect with the world around us, influencing the content styles and communities we are drawn to.

Take social media, for example. Initially, it served as a platform for social interaction, allowing us to connect with like-minded individuals virtually. However, as social media has evolved, it has become a place for discovery. Algorithm-led feeds and personalized content recommendations have replaced chronological timelines, catering to our individual interests.

Gen Z, in particular, has embraced social media as a powerful learning tool, with a significant percentage preferring to search for information on platforms like TikTok before turning to traditional search engines.

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2. Signals

As forces permeate different demographics and communities, they manifest as signals—expressions of the broader cultural shifts. Signals are relatively shorter in duration, spanning from a few months to a year. They represent what people are actively seeking and how they navigate their interests. When individuals explore new ideas or search for specific topics, they often stumble upon subcultures and lifestyles that align with their preferences. These micro-identities, such as the Clean Girl Aesthetic or #VanLife, provide a common framework for people to express their interests or values within a particular niche.

3. Moments

Once a signal gains traction, it gives rise to moments. Moments are the immediate associations we make with trends—a catchy TikTok sound, a viral dance challenge, or a popular stitch prompt that dominates our For You Page (FYP). While moments have a relatively short lifespan, lasting only a matter of days to weeks, they hold significant cultural significance. They serve as the primary medium for expressing signals and act as a shared language that allows individuals to showcase their identity.

Think back to the corn obsession—what initially may seem random actually follows this pattern. The signal of #InnerChild garnered over 1.5 billion views on TikTok, and when a cute kid expressed his love for corn in an interview, it resonated with the existing community, transforming into a moment of widespread interest and engagement.

Recognizing the underlying forces driving trends, identifying emerging signals within target demographics, and leveraging moments of relevance can help businesses stay ahead of the curve and effectively engage with their audiences.

Read: How to Get Your TikToks Noticed

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Why You Need a Trend Strategy & How to Start Your Own

Trends may seem informal, but their impact on your brand should not be underestimated. A well-executed trend strategy can serve as a powerful tool to connect with your audience and amplify your brand story.

On the flip side, a poorly executed trend can lead to dilution of your brand identity, alienation of your audience, and erosion of customer trust. That’s why it’s crucial for your social media team to possess the ability to spot trends, comprehend their resonance with audiences, align them with your business objectives, and execute them flawlessly within a short timeframe. Achieving such agility is only possible with a well-defined trend strategy in place.

To help you embark on this journey, here are four essential tips to get started.

1. Define Your Objectives

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When developing a trend strategy, it’s crucial to define your objectives clearly. Are you aiming to expand your audience or strengthen the bond with your existing followers and customers? Understanding this distinction will shape your approach. Signals and moments, two key components of trends, serve different purposes. Signals showcase your understanding of the target audience, allowing you to create a sense of familiarity and attract potential customers. Incorporating signals in your awareness stage posts can be highly effective. On the other hand, moments provide an opportunity to highlight the shared values and experiences between your brand and existing customers. When leveraging moments, it’s important to seamlessly integrate your products or services in a way that feels organic and resonates with your audience. By aligning your trend strategy with your goals, you can amplify your brand’s reach and establish stronger connections with your target audience.

2. Start With a Plan

Keeping up with the speed of creators and consumers is essential. It requires a blend of agility, analysis, creativity, and time investment. However, the efforts put into trend marketing must yield meaningful results. That’s why a solid strategy should always precede content creation, and this holds even more significance when working with trends. Before diving into the realm of trend inspiration, take the time to map out your business objectives, establish data analysis plans, and determine baseline metrics. By doing so, you lay a strong foundation for effective trend marketing that aligns with your goals and maximizes the return on your investment.

3. Become an Expert Trendspotter

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Trends are born out of our collective human experiences, making it crucial for marketers to approach trendspotting from a human perspective. To truly grasp the essence of trends, you need to relate to the experiences that drive them. In today’s digital landscape, being active on platforms like TikTok is no longer just a pastime—it’s become an essential part of job training for marketers at all levels. As the significance of trendspotting continues to grow, we’re witnessing the emergence of dedicated trend spotters within social and analytics teams. By immersing yourself in trends as a consumer, you gain the unique ability to identify relevant trends and transform them into equally relevant content that resonates with your audience. Embrace the human connection, dive into the world of trends, and unlock the potential of trendspotting to propel your marketing efforts forward.

Read: 7 Must-Have Skills for a Long-Term Career in Social Media

4. Boost & Monitor Engagement

Trends are embedded within the vast landscape of posts, comments, stitches, duets, and the valuable social data that emerges from these interactions. To maximize the impact of trends on your brand’s engagement, it’s essential to align them with your business goals and leverage past performance data. By creating frameworks that guide the selection of trends and their corresponding levels of engagement, you can ensure a strategic approach to trend utilization.

Consider tactics such as actively commenting on high-performing content, collaborating with your network of creators, and strategically sharing your trending content. Each of these elements contributes to a comprehensive and well-rounded trend strategy, enabling you to unlock higher levels of engagement and drive meaningful connections with your audience.

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It’s clear that embracing trends is essential for success in the fast-paced world of social media. By staying attuned to consumer behavior, monitoring shifts, and incorporating relevant trends, we can propel brands forward. So, let’s ride the wave, embrace the ever-evolving landscape, and shape the future of social media through meaningful connections and innovative engagement.

Have you checked out our blog post on the 7 Strategies for Engaged Followers?

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