Some time ago I discovered an educational (and addictive) web site that is worth writing about because it can help you elevate your association and spread its mission.  The web site is called Google Trends.  Google’s definition of the site is, “Google Trends is a public web facility of Google Inc., based on Google Search that shows how often a particular search-term is entered relative to the total search-volume across various regions of the world, and in various languages.”  What Google is doing is exposing their massive collection of data to let you see clearly what is important across the globe and presented it in a visually appealing way.  Here are a few ideas about how you can leverage this for your association.

1. Be the first to know

If you check the site periodically, you can be among the first to know if something is trending in the top 10 stories that relates directly to your association.  Also helpful to note is that Trends covers YouTube as well.  Let’s say for example a video related to drones (unmanned aerial vehicle like a quad copter) goes viral and you are the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).  But adding content on your web site with coverage of it, or pushing an email out to your members quickly so it is delivered when they might be searching, then you are elevating your profile and informing everyone about the importance of your association.

2. Ideas for your visualizations

Taking a look on the Trends site at what is presented and how could give you some ideas or insights on how you might want to look at your own data – or even share it with the world.  Here is a map showing our nation’s interest in the NBA finals.


I interpret this as the majority of the country either in favor of or more interested in the story of the Warriors than the Cavaliers.  Getting back to associations, let’s relate the NBA finals to your annual conference.  Do you know what people are searching for on your web site during your conference?  Even better, do you know if those people are registrants?  You likely have the data collected where you could create a map of what people are searching your site for during your annual conference, and you can even publish it on your site with each result linking to the most popular content.

3. Push a Trend Higher or Buy an Ad

During the time of this writing, I noticed that #37 on the list was a tie for “New York City, Food, Whole Foods Market.”  I was able to click through and see that it was not related to our client’s upcoming conference, but it is certainly an opportunity.  Our client, the Specialty Food Association, has a conference in progress June 28-30 in New York.  A large number of people are searching for key words that wouldn’t normally lead them to your site, but a timely ad purchased with Google or some content on your site using the key words could drive traffic or attendance like you haven’t seen before.  Here is a graphic of what I did see clicking on the trend (plus the Food Show graphic I added on top).


As you become more adventurous and introduce some of these techniques into your association, don’t forget to have the mechanisms in place to track their success.  That could be as simple as making sure the “how you heard” for your event registration has Google Search or Google Ad, or as advanced as using your site’s own Google Analytics account to blend data with membership info.  Lastly, it would be an oversight not to mention this is the tip of the iceberg.  Here is another great article with 6 more ways you can use Google Trends.