Growing up in a family whose parents straddled the line between the news and entertainment worlds, I always had a keen sense of the psychology behind mass trends. Well before the term ‘trending topic’ was trendy, my parents were explaining why certain stories made the news and certain stories didn’t, and why the audience of my dad’s entertainment news show cared about some celebs and not others.
When I started doing SEO and creating web content, this sense of why people think about things, when they think about them and how they think about them came in very handy indeed. Understanding the psychology behind mass media is one of the handiest gifts my parents gave me, even though at the time, they had no idea that our dinner table conversations about industry trends and TV show teasers would eventually lead me to a better understanding of trending topics and search terms.
As much as we in new media like to talk about how old media is a medium in decline, the fact of the matter is that back in the day, producers, advertisers and assignment desk editors knew just as well as we do that people wanted to see content about chicken wings, big screen TV’s and pizza delivery services right before the Superbowl. They just didn’t have as much real time data as we do. Sure, the data-backed decisions we make today are probably a little more reliable. But the fact remains that old media made it work for many years before the advent of these awesome real-time analytics.
So, whenever I see a story like today’s Mashable article ‘Pre-Super Bowl Google Searches: Chicken, TVs and Man Caves‘ I feel like I should give a little tip of my hat to the folks who spent years drawing the same conclusions about consumer behavior based entirely on historical behavior, industry knowledge and a whole lot of gut instinct. And, especially to my parents, who taught me how to use all of those data points to make viral content way back before viral was even a term used to describe anything other than a bad cold.
After all, analytics are awesome. But only if you know how to use them. And my parents may not have taught me much (or anything) about football, but they did teach me an awful lot about that.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go figure out a way to work the terms ‘chicken wing’, ‘big screen TV’, ‘man cave’, ‘pizza delivery’ and ‘healthy Superbowl’ into a single blog post. 🙂