Morey Stettnor of Investor’s Business Daily wrote a nice piece about how to track trends affecting your industry or business. He was kind enough to interview me for the story, so I humbly point it out to you.
I use RSS feeds and blogs and news aggregation services to monitor references to businesses, social movements, cultural changes, websites — you name it.
For instance, by monitoring the number of references to Facebook in business publications, on the Web and among friends and colleagues, that’s when I began to realize early this year that Facebook was actually being embraced by the business community here in the United States — in ways that other popular social networking sites (such as Friendster) were never embraced by business despite being popular. The same goes with Twitter, which seems to be catching on with the business crowd too.
You see, I’m not necessarily interested in trends in general. I’m interested when they start impacting small businesses. That’s harder to track than simply collecting the number of references to something. Instead, you have to assess in what context the references appear. Are they positive or negative references? You also have to look for concrete examples. You have to pick up on small references and minor nuances — weak signals.
What’s more, you have to keep track of those weak signals and look back at them from time to time. Because it’s only by viewing data over time that you truly start to see patterns — trends, if you will.
Check out: Collect, Track Right Data To Spot Strategic Trends (requires subscription or free trial). You can also find the article over at Yahoo Business News, although I don’t know how long it will remain there.