24th May 2017
Google Trends is a useful tool to see how search around a given term or topic is waxing or waning. And, as such, it can also be used as a gauge of fashion and cultural change.
But can it say anything about individuals? Does what you’re interested in say anything about you?
I asked people in the office to put the things they were currently interested in (this week, this year; TV, music, hobbies, people) into Google Trends to see what it might say. The results and a – very basic – ‘analysis’, are below.
Rich likes golf, and while Tiger woods remains the most searched for golfer, Jordan Spieth did something early in 2016 that shot him to fame, before plummeting back into obscurity.
Just like the interest in ‘The Big Four’ of thrash metal, Adam is stable and dependable. Longstanding alternative bands tend to have stable interest with small spikes when they do a tour or release a new album. Unsurprisingly, Metallica dominate, and have enjoyed a search bump of late, with their new song (first spike) and new album (second spike).
Alise, like so many others, is excited about the start of X Factor! She’s also riding the growing wave of interest around the US Presidential elections – almost at fever pitch as we enter the final two weeks. Sadly, for her (and her make-up brand), no one cares about Charlotte Tilbury…
Dan is bang on-trend: he knows what’s happening right now: the Korean movie ‘Train To Busan’ and the new series of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, on Netflix. Interestingly, the announcement of Twitter’s decision to can micro video social sharing site, Vine, has not yet registered (this graph is over 5 years). A week view would doubtless show a spike as people search out news of the announcement. More interesting and insightful is what has driven Twitter’s decision: declining interest in Vine for three years and a death spiral for the last 18 months. Or it might be this…
Daisy is a little behind the curve with her interest in the PC game, Stardew Alley – or maybe she’s just sustained her interest longer than other people… pfff, the public are so fickle!
Darren shares a topical interest in the ‘Bisping vs Henderson’ fight with the rest of the mixed martial arts community. He was there, finger on the pulse, on the edge of his seat. He and the other 12 Feeder fans are also eagerly anticipating the new album, and while general interest in Tim Vine is falling, Darren is sticking with him. All his other interests seem to have stable interest levels.
This is me. I have been swept up in the wave of interest around the US Presidential race, but it’s the only thing I’m interested in that’s growing or shrinking. Do I have stable interests? Or am I just not that interested in new and trending things?
Lee’s current interest in how banks make money doesn’t seem to be part of a cultural wave of interest, though his interest in behavioural psychology might – enjoying a recent growth of late.
The zeitgeist – Lou’s interests specific sport-related interests became very popular this year (apart from ‘grit strength’, which I will have to Google to see what it is).
Surprisingly, ‘vegan curry recipes’ isn’t as popular search as ‘heating’, which becomes a concern as temperatures fall. It needn’t be said that the massive popularity of ‘heating’ flattens the results of Mark’s other interests (outside of his interest in heating).
Takeaway: not everyone is doing what’s trending or popular, and not everyone picks up on things immediately. The long tail is indeed long, and we don’t all behave like starlings in the sky: all flying in the same direction at once. There are stragglers and ‘individuals’. Maybe this would be different if you asked a different group of people: a middle-school class, a room full of goths. It’s also worth noting that this still only search as an indicator of interest, not actual interest. For example, some search has declining over time, but only because people are bookmarking and going direct to pages. It also goes without saying that it’s a useful tool when researching your content strategy, but that’s another blog…
Try it in your office/social circle/AA meeting and see what it says about them as individuals, and you as a group.