5 free tools to track industry trendsGood content marketing starts with an engaging topic.  The best content marketers know that one of the best ways to engage their audience is to discuss industry trends.

Your audience wants to know – what are the latest industry trends, how will this change the community, and what does this mean for those working in the industry? If you can help your audience answer these questions, you have already started down the path to great content marketing.

Of course, in order to answer those questions, you have to dedicate time to staying on top of industry trends.  That is where these 5 free tools come into play.  These are some of my favorite ways to easily keep track of the changes in my industry and how others are perceiving these trends.

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Mention is a real-time monitoring platform that allows you to monitor online “mentions” of any keyword or combination of keywords (tiered pricing, with a free option). My favorite thing about this platform is the flexibility of sources that it scans.  You can adjust your alerts to scan all sources, or narrow it down to just Forums, or Images.  This is a great way to streamline your trend watching to fit your needs.

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Topsy is similar to Mention in that you search the web for certain keywords.  The main difference between the two is that Topsy includes an “Influencers” and gives a quick analytics snippet that indicates the frequency of keyword mentions as well as sentiment.  This tool is perfect if you are looking to put together a list of experts to follow or if you want to gauge the popularity of trends.

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Trendspottr is an intelligence platform that specializes in predicting the popularity of content.  The platform uses data source like Twitter to determine whether trends are accelerating or decelerating in popularity.  They refer to it as an “early warning system” for viral content.  Personally I love the emails that show up in my inbox telling me that there is a “High Alert” for a certain article.  The best content literally comes right to my inbox.

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This site taps the trends of a variety of industries, but it is the analysis that they perform of the audience that is particularly helpful.  For each trend, the site includes a “score” that is given based on how “fresh” the trend is (how old it is) and the popularity of the trend.  They also include a quick breakdown of demographics including age, gender, and location of those with whom this trend resonates.

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Newsle gives you insight into a different side of your industry by tapping into your LinkedIn profile.  It pulls any articles or mentions of your LinkedIn connections into a single email.  These emails are a quick and easy way to find out what your network is saying, and where they are saying it.  This is particularly handy when it pulls in articles about major awards or career changes. Thanks to this tool I’m often one of the first to find out about the goings-on of my network, and a congratulatory email is always a great reason to re-connect with someone.

Trends are a great starting point for your content conversation.  Do you have a favorite trend-tracking tool that we missed? Share it in the comments below!