Keeping on top of the trends is advice you hear regularly, but actually following through with it is another story. With the cultural landscape changing on a dime, there’s a lot to keep up with. If you’re not on your toes, trends will come and go without you having a chance to craft a meaningful message. Even if you are to prepare yourself for the up-and-coming trends, it takes time to monitor the conversations and know which opportunities to take advantage of.

Fortunately, there are a handful of tools available that will help you discover the latest trends and create content around them without wasting time. By understanding what these tools are and how to use them, you can find creative ways to connect your brand’s story to what’s going on in the real world.

Below is a toolbox of ideas to help you stay on top of trending topics. Enjoy!


BuzzSumo is an online tool that provides insight into the types of content that are popular within topics or websites. It has a helpful “Most Shared” function that lets you identify content that has been successful in the past. The “Trending Now” function displays the most popular content that is being read on the internet over the last two hours.

BuzzSumo offers a free version. Three paid packages are available (Pro, Agency and Enterprise) and include additional features.

Content Explorer by Ahrefs

Content Explorer is another great tool that helps content marketers discover some of the best performing content in a specific category. To use the program is easy. Start by inputting a keyword and filter to the timeframe that you want to see results from.

The tool pulls up content pieces based on the number of social shares. Using these results, you can get a better idea of the types of content that people are reading and sharing on the major social networks.

A free trial is available for Content Explorer, giving you an opportunity to test the waters and see how you like the tool. Paid packages are then broken down into three tiers – Lite, Standard and Advanced.

Google Trends

Google Trends is an easy and free tool that shares some of the biggest daily headlines and news articles that are trending. For being a free tool, you get plenty of information (probably more than you need), but at least you can get a quick idea of the types of stories that people are interested in for the day.

If you want to dig deeper, you can learn other information such as the number of searches carried out for a specific term compared to the number of searches done on Google at the same time. It also ranks the hottest stories in order of popularity. If you click on the story, you can discover why it’s popular and where.


EpicBeat is a tool that makes it easy for content marketers to simplify trending content research. You can search for different types of content by topics or websites and use it for inspiration for your own unique content.

Aside from that, EpicBeat provides access to social sharing counts and even insight into some of the shares. For instance, EpicBeat will give you a list of people that have shared content over the past seven days. This is a great way to learn about the audience you should be focusing on, as they could be your biggest influencers one day.

EpicBeat offers a free version, with paid packages available with EpicBeat Plus and EpicSuite.


Reddit is another free tool that people call “the front page of the internet.” It should be the first place you visit each morning.

The cool thing about Reddit is that dips into all types of content, whether it’s funny news clips, educational content or even conspiracy theories. With so much buzzing content that you can discover, it’s easy to find your niche and create content that is relevant and interesting in real time.

To discover unique content that hasn’t gone viral yet, check out the “rising” tab. By using this feature, you can gain an edge over your competition.

Create Your Editorial Calendar

As helpful as the above tools are, there is no substitute for having an editorial calendar. With an organized and thoughtful calendar, you will be more prepared to take on real time content that will interest your audience.

When you do come across content that is trending and relevant to your brand, you need to know how to handle it. You can’t jump in blindly and hope for the best, as this will be a waste of your resources. Here are a couple of tips for working popular trends into your content marketing strategy.

  • Is the trend worthwhile? It makes a difference if the trend is something that is just starting versus being at the end of its lifespan. Use Google Trends to discover when the topic became popular and if it has already hit its peak period. Ideally, you want to go after trends that people will continue to talk about.

  • Is there a demand for content? Maybe a certain topic is getting plenty of buzz, but do people really want content around it? A funny video that’s gone viral may be watched a million times, but that doesn’t mean people will read content related to it. On the other hand, it’s possible that the video may have started a conversation that you can write about.

Content marketers have a lot of roles to fill. Not only are they responsible for creating great content that is shared on social media, but also the content must be timely and relevant to its audience. By using the tools above, you can get a better idea of the types of things that people are raving about and find a way to connect them with your brand’s message.