How Long Do Trending Topics Thrive In Each Industry?

A Data-Driven Look at How Trends Happen

Amanda Milligan
Marketing Director at Fractl.
You might have heard the term “newsjacking” before: the concept of jumping on a recent trend in the news to earn your own attention, engagement, links, and more.
But it’s not the only tactic related to addressing trends with your content. While newsjacking works for bigger, newsworthy happenings in your industry, there are also times when a topic — perhaps launched into fame because of an event — remains trendy over time.
On a national level, think plastic straws, intermittent fasting, shiplap, bitcoin.
We’ve found that capitalizing on longer-term trends in each industry is a content opportunity that hasn’t been as thoroughly explored, especially in more niche areas.

Understanding Topic Longevity to Optimize Your Content Calendar

Developing a content calendar is one of the toughest parts of content marketing, so gaining any insight into how you can strategize what to publish and when is extremely valuable.
My colleagues at Fractl and I were interested in exploring this concept more, which is why we reached out to our friends at Exploding Topics; their tool was created to help people identify “exploding” topics relevant to their brand as quickly as possible.
We sought to discover the average longevity of trending topics by vertical.
Our hypothesis was that some industries would cycle through trends faster than others, and better understanding those timelines would be invaluable to content creators who want to know for how long their content will be relevant.
But first, to understand the data, you have to understand what each Exploding Topics label means:
  • Regular: Topics that have solid search growth month after month.
  • Exploding: Topics with accelerating search demand. So the search chart curves up in that classic hockey stick shape.
  • Peaked: Topics where searches have already spiked and they don’t show any more rapid growth after that.
Let’s take a second to look at the overall picture to see the trending timelines for all of the topics we examined on average.
This means that topics can be relevant for 2+ years! If you can create high-quality content at the beginning of these trends, you can accumulate awareness, traffic, and links for many months after you hit publish.
Now let’s get to the specific stuff.
We recommend examining the blue and orange bars first, as they’re directly related to one another. (The gray bars illustrate when an idea bypasses the “exploding” section altogether and goes straight to peaked.)
Some interesting insights arise immediately:
  • In the Home vertical, topics trend for the longest amount of time, but they also experience the shortest amount of “exploding” time.
Takeaway: Really popular trends in the Home space last for about three to four months before they jump the shark.
  • Finance topics seem to have the most overall longevity in the trending realm.
Takeaway: Even with newer topics, finance content seems to be more evergreen and should focus on actionable resources and information.
  • Fashion, Finance, and Travel topics all last for over a year on average in the “Exploding” stage. You see this longer lifespan reflected in the green bars, as well.
Takeaway: Content on trending topics in these verticals will be relevant and highly appealing for quite some time! Incorporate them in your content strategy.
  • Sports and Fitness topics appear to have the shortest amount of time in their trending lifecycles.
Takeaway: Unless there’s a chance of very high initial engagement, content created around trending topics should either incorporate more evergreen elements or have the expectation of not being as relevant a few months down the line.
Knowing these differences between industries can help you make more informed decisions about what to focus on in your content. Because from what we can tell from our tool, there are still plenty of opportunities left to be seized upon.
In every industry, fewer than half of the topics we have logged in our system have peaked. That means there are plenty of trending topics still relevant in every vertical.

Methodology

To generate the data for the study, we analyzed each topic’s historical search data. Every category we featured had at least 20 topics that have peaked.
Specifically, we ran the Exploding Topics trend classification algorithms on each topic’s timeline data. This determined how long the topic was in each of the defined phases before moving on to the next phase.
As mentioned, these phases are “regular,” “exploding,” and “peaked.” Because of the nature of trending topics and the shape of their search charts, we found that topics usually go from “regular” to “exploding” to “peaked.”
Occasionally topics even repeated this cycle during the course of its search history. In almost all cases, the biggest trend cycle was the most recent one. So in this situation, we used the latest cycle. These will be the most relevant and reliable predictor of the lifespans of trending topics currently.
Often topics would also skip the “exploding” phase entirely and never exhibit upwards curving growth. They would instead just have strong upwards growth in a straight line, and then at some point search demand would pop and fizzle out.
So we included this as “regular” to “peaked” trend lifespan data. Even though these topics never exploded, they still provide great opportunity to capitalize on trending topics, so it was valuable to include them in the analysis.
Published Date: 
August 11, 2020
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