Mapping Twitter Trends with Trendsmap

Though it could easily be argued that Trendsmap, a website that maps Twitter trends across the world in real-time, is just riding Twitter’s coattails into popularity, there’s no denying that being able to “see what the global, collective mass of humanity is discussing right now” is pretty amazing, to say the least.

Twitter has become ridiculously big over the past three years. Because of this monumental success and the ease with which crafty developers have been able to leverage the program’s API, Twitter has become an entire industry unto itself.

It’s almost not an exaggeration to say that just about every week a new start-up company emerges that has found a seemingly new way to incorporate an aspect of Twitter into their new product. Admittedly, many of them aren’t all that useful, but every now and again one pops up that appears to have a real chance of surviving.

It seems as if Trendsmap definitely falls into this category. Upon first glance it’s easy to dismiss the program as yet another application that incorporates Twitter and tries to repackage the results as something different, but if you spend a few moments becoming acquainted with this awesome new program you’ll see that it has a lot to offer in terms of useful information.

After all, sometimes you just want to open up your web browser and see what’s going on in your specific area. And yes, real-time search is becoming a trend of its own, but Trendsmap is super effective when it comes to quickly being able to reveal local events and information that’s important to a user’s individual needs and tastes.

{mospagebreak title=The Basics}

The program, which was created by Stateless Systems (also the creators of BugMeNot and PDFMeNot), serves as entertainment for most users, but initially it was designed to solve productivity problems. Essentially, Trendsmap tracks Twitter topics by geographical location and combines that information with data from Twitter’s very own API, as well as information from What The Trend. Finally, after all of that information is gathered, it embeds it onto Google Maps, enabling users to see trending topics in real time according to specific cities or general regions across the globe.

All of these Twitter trends are basically displayed as a “tag cloud” that floats around above each city. When users click on one of the tags displayed, a small box pops up that shows the most recent tweets, local and global histories of the trend’s popularity over the past week, and any related news links that will change depending on which trends are at the forefront.

Users of this fairly new service will soon realize that one of its most appealing characteristics is the fact that it assigns each and every city in the U.S. and abroad its own trends page. This means that users can browse information boxes without having to go through each tag individually. Not only that, but they can also compare trending charts, which they can stack up against one another. This is also where all other related media is gathered and displayed, such as photos and videos.

Needless to say, Trendsmap doesn’t really do well in smaller towns. Unless you live in a major city, the service doesn’t have much to offer. This is probably because the data set for these small areas is quite limited, which is unfortunate because it’d probably be more interesting to see what trends are developing in smaller towns.

If you do live in a very small town and feel like your trends page is limited, but still want to see what all of the fuss is about, try checking out a big city with a major night life scene, like Las Vegas or New York. When visiting these cities’ trend pages you’ll get a good feel for what the program is truly capable of and the type of information it can disseminate.

How it Works

Using Trendsmap is literally as simple as clicking around, and in some major cities, depending on what’s going on, it’s sometimes pretty obvious what the trends are going to be before you do any clicking. For example, during the NBA playoffs there was a lot of buzz in Los Angeles about the Lakers.

As an Angeleno who wasn’t interested in sports, you could find a trend that was more appealing to you by searching for something that interested you. For example, a search for “music festival” might reveal something that was going on in your very own neighborhood that you weren’t even aware of. It would also reveal any related photos or blog posts about the event, as well as links to the venue via Foursquare. Users can even filter keywords and watch tweets from their city pour in real time.  

Though it uses some pretty cutting edge technology, Trendsmap is pretty basic at the moment. Though it’s cool that users can view the map from their city view, a regional view, or a global view, the only other feature worth mentioning is a common search engine that allows users to look up specific trends they’re interested in.

Hopefully in the near future the site will enable users to save their searches. Chances are things will get even more interesting for the start up now that Twitter has announced that it will soon reveal a geolocation feature.  

{mospagebreak title=Good for Business}

One of the reasons Trendsmap is so incredibly captivating is because it combines three increasingly important and relevant facets of the web: marketing, advertising, and journalism. Being able to track trends in real-time can be incredibly beneficial to an entrepreneur who knows how to make the most of this free information essentially being handed to them on a silver platter.

Let’s use the Lakers again as an example. During the playoffs, it’s safe to assume that the Lakers are trending big in the Los Angeles area, and because of the magnitude of the championship, some of the major players are likely to be trending in other areas nationally.

If Kobe Bryant is trending in a big way, a savvy business person interested in purchasing ads online could use Trendsmap to their advantage in a big way. The free service would enable them to determine which regions would basically act as a good investment for anything Kobe-related.

The service is also useful to journalists from a business standpoint. For example, a freelance writer could use the service to determine where a Kobe or Lakers-related story might resonate and experience the most popularity. Not only that, but pitching a topic to an editor that’s big in the area will give writers a better chance of being published nationally. For those writers who specialize in writing SEO content for websites, using Trendsmap could help with SEO strategies for Bryant stories that get published online.    

From a business standpoint, you could use Trendsmap even more to your advantage. For example, say you’re only interested in what’s being said about Kobe Bryant in Phoenix, Arizona. Located at the top of the Bryant topic in the area is background on the topic and a summary as to why it’s so important and trending. Below that, users will find relevant links to news articles and the most recent tweets pertaining to the subject — in this case it’s Kobe Bryant in Phoenix, AZ. This section will also display the top trending links according to Phoenix, AZ users, as well as the top trending photos as dictated by those in the area.

All of this information combined could be a goldmine for a media savvy individual who knows how to use it to their advantage by placing relevant ads in those areas, marketing certain products in those areas, or by pitching relevant stories to publications in that area.

Trendsmap isn’t really social networking, but it’s starting off the same way: as pure entertainment. MySpace seems like old news these days (and it is), but there was a time when everyone had one. In a very short amount of time, social networking has evolved to be less about catching up with old high school buddies and more about making business connections, marketing your products, and getting the word out on anything you need to publicize.

It’s no surprise that MySpace became a graveyard around the time that Facebook and Twitter really took off. These days, everyone who has something to say or something to sell has a Facebook and Twitter page — and it’s not just kids, but New York Times journalists, the president of the United States, and the Dalai Lama!

Though Trendsmap isn’t a social networking site like MySpace, it can still suffer from some of the pitfalls MySpace succumbed to, like trying to be everything to everyone. If the program narrows its focus and makes the most of the cutting edge technology it uses, while also making the most of Twitter’s API, the program is capable of changing the way things are marketed online. Though this may not have been its creators’ original intention, chances are they won’t be unhappy about it when their popularity begins to soar beyond the service they were first accused of taking advantage of.

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