Knowing your niche, and creating a curated social media feed around that niche, is essential for crafting a big online presence. Yet these days, many savvy social media influencers are in-the-know when it comes to niches. If you want to break out from the crowd and hit the coveted Instagram Explore page, get ahead by identifying not only what’s popular in your niche, but what trends are coming up right around the corner.
Here’s how to see into the future—no crystal ball required—and predict a trend that will be a huge hit with your niche.
Step 1. Create Your Audience Persona
Always, always, always think of your audience first. For authentic engagement and growth, your feed needs to be all about your followers. Think about what your ideal follower cares about, and make it a real person. Include details like:
- The gender with which they identify
- Their job
- Their hobbies and interests
- Their favorite Instagram accounts that aren’t yours
- Their average day
It might help to actually write out a character. When does she get up? What does she do for work? How does she get to work? What does she do in her spare time?
In the marketing industry, this is known as a customer persona. Before you post, ask: does this post appeal to my customer persona? And more importantly, what up-and-coming trends is this persona checking out?
Step 2: See It Through Your Audience’s Eyes
Scroll through your followers and look for people who match your customer persona. Then, scan their feed and their Instagram stories. What are they talking about? What are they re-sharing? What are they being tagged in?
When it comes to seasonal trends, you want to be an organic part of the conversation, not forcing the conversation. As you review the different Instagram profiles that match your customer persona, you might see questions, products, or photo styles that you haven’t really seen as a dominant force in your niche. This is a clue that your audience is seeking something specific, and now you have a chance to serve up that type of content before the rest of the niche catches on!
Also, do a related creator spot check. Find profiles or hashtags in your niche that either compete directly with you, or share similar followers to you. See which posts of theirs have unusually high engagement, and then see if that post is different in content or style from their other posts.
Abnormalities in another creator’s engagement is another clue on your trend hunt. Pay special attention if the creator spot check also aligns with your customer persona review!
Step 3: Go Outside the ‘Gram
Social media is a reflection of the world around us. But because social media is so immersive, it’s easy to lose sight of trends that are happening off of social media. However, if you can spot a trend before it appears on Instagram, you’ll drive a lot of free traffic and attention to your account, and even be seen as an authority or trend setter on the platform!
Step out of social media and see what trends are happening on other platforms.
One of the best set of tools for this comes is Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner (click here for a tutorial). Google Trends can show you what’s hot and rising in terms of searches around the globe. You can even drill down and see what’s popular on an hour-by-hour basis in a specific country.
Use this to beef up your ability to hit a trend right before it starts to peak. For example, say your niche is healthy breakfasts and you like to post pictures and recipes for easy morning meals. You see on Google Trends that searches for pumpkin recipes is starting to trend. You—can then—whip together a breakfast bowl with roasted pumpkin and share it on your feed.
Take it a step further with Google Keyword Planner, a free tool that you get when you open a Google AdWords account. Plug a trending keyword into the keyword tool, and it will spit out a wide range of keywords that are related to what you entered. This will give you ideas for photos and content, and can even help you find trending keywords that you wouldn’t have thought of before.
Step 4: Be Active and Available
Don’t set it and leave it. Instagram and other social media platforms are all about conversations and engagement, and this can be a very valuable tool for hearing directly from your audience what’s popular and what’s up and coming.
For example, you might notice a sudden influx of questions about a certain wardrobe style, or you might get a lot of questions about a recipe you recently posted. Review the comments for questions that indicate an interest in a topic that’s being unmet at the moment. It’s a great way to hear directly from your customer personas what they want and what’s on the rise in their lives.
Where Will Trends Take You?
Getting ahead of a seasonal trend in your niche before everyone else in your niche hops onto it can do wonders for your engagement and follower count. It also builds credibility and connection with your existing fans, who will see you as an authority in the niche that they can trust. Leverage trends with the previous four steps and grow an authentic tribe today.
Want to work with other trendsetters and stand out in your niche? Join #ThePaidCrew community and start working with world-class brands.
By day, Josh Duvauchelle is the co-founder of Frey Union, a marketing firm in Vancouver, BC. By night, he’s a health and wellness coach featured in Teen Vogue, Men’s Journal, Shape, Men’s Fitness, and more. Find him on Instagram under @joshduv. Josh is a member of #ThePaidCrew editorial team.