How To Discover Product Trends Using Social Media

eBay trends
Product trends are easy to find on social media. Getty images

One of the most common questions from eBay sellers is, "What's hot right now? What should I be selling?" And the answer is always, "Whatever consumers are buying!"  But the trick is how to figure out exactly what consumers want so you can provide it for them. There is a great quote in marketing by marketing guru Seth Godin. He said,

"Don't Find customers for your products, find products for your customers."

In other words, get inside the minds of your customers and find out what they want, rather than trying to figure out how to make people buy what you want to sell. And this is pretty easy if you pay attention to what's going on around you in social media, advertising, entertainment, blogging, and food trends.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a visual site and a marketer's dream. A few Pinterest facts:

  • 100 million active users
  • 85% of users are women
  • 66% of Pinterest users save things that inspire them
  • 17% of US Pinterest users are active daily
  • 19% of high school students use Pinterest daily
  • 67% of Pinterest users are millennials (67 million people!)
  • 80% of millennials use Pinterest to find things they want to buy

That last statistic is what eBay sellers should be interested in. People are on Pinterest to see what is hot, trending, fashionable, and current. The cherry on top of Pinterest is that millennials hang out there, and they are now the largest group of consumers having recently bypassed Baby Boomers.

So, if you aren't on Pinterest, now is the time to get busy watching what people are posting. Because of the visual nature of the site, there's no hard research reading, just look at the photos. Follow the main feed or choose a category that interests you. Look for items that are repeatedly posted.

Watch for trends. If you sell clothing, look at what the styles and hot colors are. If you sell kitchen gadgets, look at what types of fun food projects are popular and figure out what tools are needed to make them.

Facebook Ads

Facebook is another online marketer's dream, especially now that ads can be purchased and posts can be boosted. A few Facebook statistics:

  • 1.65 billion active monthly users
  • 1.51 billion mobile active users
  • 76% of users are female
  • Average time spent on Facebook per user is 20 minutes
  • 42% of marketers report that Facebook is critical for their business

So here is how to use Facebook for research. Keep in mind you aren't pushing your eBay items at your friends and connections. You are using the site to gather information about what to sell. First, look at the ads that appear on the right hand side. Someone is paying for those. You can glean valuable information from and ad someone else is paying for without it costing you a dime! The ads are based on your likes, and you have been carefully selected to see that ad based on many factors including:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Geographical area
  • Interests on Facebook

Look at what ads appear and make note them. Even though you have been specifically chosen for the ad, many others have, too.

For example, if your interests include yoga, you will see ads for yoga apparel, yoga products, possibly vitamins and supplements, organic skin care products, aromatherapy products, and anything related to yoga, meditation, or fitness. If you see something you have never heard of, take a moment to investigate. It could be the start of a trend, new product, or new brand like coconut oil, agave nectar, argan oil, or Lululemon clothing.

Facebook Trending

Also on the right hand side of your Facebook page is a section called "trending." According to Facebook, 

"Trending shows you topics that have recently become popular on Facebook. The topics you see are based on a number of factors including engagement, timeliness, Pages you've liked and your location.On a computer, the topics are grouped into 5 categories: All News, Politics, Science and Technology, Sports and Entertainment."

Many people use the trending section of Facebook to stay informed rather than watching the news. Some items that appear on trending that could be useful to an eBay seller doing research:

  • Celebrity news (and deaths)
  • Companies in the news (Lisa Frank products were recently on trending)
  • Foodie news
  • Travel news
  • Entertainment highlights
  • Technology (gadgets, software, mobile phones)
  • Sports
  • Movies
  • Music

A great deal of information about trends and current events can be obtained by reading the trending section on Facebook.

Product research is not difficult, does not require a team of employees, or a million dollar budget. It requires only the ability to pay attention to what people are doing and what they are talking about. Social media gets a bad rap for being a time-waster. But when used properly, intentionally, and mindfully, social media is a valuable tool that marketers use to reach new customers and discover what consumers want.

Updated on August 8, 2016 by Suzanne A. Wells.