Google office showing a lighted-up "Google" sign on a wall.
PHOTO: Alper Çuğun

What people search for on Google often aligns with what they search for and post about on social media. It seems obvious, but how often are social media marketers really thinking about this? With 75,000 Google queries per second according to 99firms, there’s bound to be keyword search data that can boost social media engagement. That's a lot to consider.

For this reason, using data from Google — and Google Trends in particular — could be a game-changer for social media marketers looking for an edge over their competition. To get a better idea of how to best use this data, we’ve asked experienced marketers how they’re using Google Trends for their social campaigns.

What Is Google Trends?

David Greenberg, SVP of marketing at Act-On likens Google Trends to Twitter’s Trending section, for those marketers familiar with that platform. “The difference,” he explained, “is that the website gathers, and makes public, more in-depth information about what search engine users are ‘Googling’ and when.” He says the data includes things like the search engine volume index of a keyword and the geographical locations of the users that searched for it.

“Google Trends helps marketers understand what the most popular current search queries are around the world,” added Marlee Stein, social media specialist at seoplus+. That means it’s a crucial tool for keyword research.  For instance, “if you want to talk about a certain subject, simply type in a keyword that revolves around that topic.” That way, you’ll see what regions around the world have the most Google searches for that word, and can better tailor your marketing efforts for that demographic.

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Google Trends for Social Media Marketing

There are two key areas where the experts believe Google Trends can help marketers with social media marketing:

Planning Campaigns

Google Trends is often a great starting point when putting together a social media campaign. “If you understand who the top demographics are that you want to target, but you don't know where to find them,” explained Stein, “Google Trends can be your solution.” Using the tool, marketers can understand what people are talking about and where they are. These insights can drive your social media strategy planning. “If you feel as though you have a strong campaign in place, but aren't getting the results you thought you would,” continued Stein, “you might just be targeting the wrong location, or just not being specific enough with your audience.”

Google Trends, therefore, is also critical for course-correcting if your campaigns are underperforming. Stein believes a social media campaign is successful when your audience begins to spread your message as well. “If you find an audience that's already speaking about your campaign's subject,” she said, “the likelihood of your message spreading will spike.”

Choosing Hashtags

“When it comes to social media marketing,” Greenberg said, “you can use Google Trends to create more relevant hashtags.” He believes that although hashtags have been around for a while, marketers still don’t use them correctly. With Google Trends, you can find keywords that are popular in a region or demographic you want to reach, and weave them into your social media posts as hashtags. “Having three or four optimized and targeted hashtags,” he explained, “is much better than listing every single one that comes to mind.”

But marketers do still need to find a happy medium. “It’s important not to go overboard here and start keyword stuffing,” Greenberg warned, “or placing as many optimized keywords into your content as humanly possible.” Too many hashtags in social media posts can hinder readability, even if they are relevant to your target audience. “This is not only frowned upon, but it’s also very transparent to your audience.” 

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Make Google Trends Part of Your Marketing Arsenal

Google Trends can be an excellent tool for marketing teams to use not just for social media marketing, but for a wide range of activities. For example, Greenberg said, “Marketers can leverage the trending topics and terms they pull from Google Trends for search engine optimization (SEO) improvements, reduced cost-per-click (CPC) and increased relevancy (and Google Quality Scores) for search engine marketing (SEM).” The tool is often underestimated, but it can be crucial for creating the right content and publishing it at the right time.

“Marketers should never rely on Google Trends as their only source of information,” Stein warned, “but it can be an excellent tool to find a topic to write about or check the relevancy of a current news story.” Google Trends, therefore, can guide all of your marketing efforts if you use it wisely.