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What’s in a Trend?’s in a trend?

Back in the olden days trends were for a season. In the modern Jetson era trends are measured in minutes or hours.

A question came over yesterday that got me in my deep thinking mode:

Does your software have the capability of finding the most viral content available today?

Short answer. Yes.

You can easily discover content by when it was published and easily sort by total shares and even our proprietary trending score.

Right now I’m about to get a bit more cerebral than usual…

So if your the type of person who likes to know the “why” and the “thinking” behind some of the tech we create then you’ll get the full monty background.

A few years ago when we sat down and designed the type of tool we felt would be useful for any blogger or content marketer we knew a few things…

Having a tool that could discover content that was trending would be valuable.

A platform that would discover content before it popped up on the front page of Reddit, Digg, and Buzzfeed would be cool.

Early on when we started putting things together we hit a few snags.

First, you’ll notice quickly that in any topic there is usually 1-4+ sites that always have trending content.

A good example of this is sites like CopyBlogger trend in topics like copywriting or content marketing. In technology sites like Techcrunch are always trending.

Herein lies some an interesting questions.

If these sites always trend should we curate content from them? Or is it valuable to always see content from these sites?

Since these sites trend consistently wouldn’t that mean that most people in our market already know of these sites?

The answer we found is yes.

Sites that always trend have a high awareness in your market.

So always seeing these sites on top will skew your publishing and also skew your window in your market or niche.

But we solved this problem with technology.

What we put in place was a weighted trending score. What this means is a site is analyzed based on how many average social shares it has. With this baseline we can then say this story from Techcrunch has a high trend score because it has a higher than usual share count compared to the average story published.

This weighted trending score is weighted against the site itself. This simple (well not so simple) but relatively simple to explain change made a huge difference.

We then only saw trending content that broke out and was truly trending for that site.

But we took it a bit further. How you typically setup a Listening Engine is around a specific market or niche.

Keeping this in mind allowed us to put into place a trending score based on how you setup your Listening Engine.

So not only does every site or domain in your Listening Engine have a weight. Your Listening Engine and each topic within has it’s own average weighted score.

The bottom line is with this custom weighting you get a very customized view of your market or niche. This also means trending content is specific to how you’ve setup your own discovery engine.

What brings all this together is you have the power to easily sort and discover content based on two main data points:

Published date and social data.

This means you can do something like “show me content published over the last 48 hours that have the most Facebook shares” or “What videos published in the last 24 hours has the most likes” or “What content published in the last 3 days is trending or has the most shares”.

That’s the simplistic approach. What I haven’t even mentioned yet is the intelligence we’ve built in and the fact that within the Listening Engine you can block content, block sources, block domains, and even put in advanced negative keywords. But this all boils down to an even more focused and valuable discovery engine specific to your needs.

But let’s get back to trending…

Here’s another way to look at this. A trending story can be visualized in a graph. As it rises it eventually peaks and then typically scales down in views and shares.

What you have in the Listening Engine is a platform that can uncover content that is on that first rise of the peak. Much like the first clanking hill of a roller-coaster. You catch the content before you reach the peak and begin your scream downward.

But there might be one question in the back of your mind…

Is it really all about trending content?

Another short answer: no.

Trending is just one component of how you should look at your market.

You can also completely ignore trending and just sort by the most recent published content.

This will take off all these rules and help you discover the ‘raw’ content in your discovery stream.

Sometimes you’ll want trending content. Other times you wont. We provided a platform that gives you the power to have this flexibility.

I’ll be upfront here.

What I outlined above I think will be interesting for some people. For others well you probably already moved on… but if you’re still reading here’s where we are taking this.

I want to introduce even more intelligence into our platform. One thing we are starting to test is what is called sentiment and content analytics. I won’t go into anymore detail but what we are seeing here is pretty exciting and provides you with a whole new layer and power to find interesting stories, content, and videos.

Usually in the letters I send out daily I try to provide unique insight on how to better publish, excel in the digital marketing, or look at the world differently.

So hopefully you’ll indulge today’s “just about us” note.

Tomorrow we’ll resume our normally scheduled programming.