Is Sex Or Facebook More Popular?

How to use Google Trends data to find out what customers are talking about — and what this means for your restaurant.

For several years in a row, searches for sex or Facebook were among the most popular on Google. From trending phrases to what’s hot-right-now, digging into what people search for provides a unique perspective on their current interests.

You’re not a social media fanatic or active on half a dozen online channels. That’s healthy. But when a big news story happens, you will want to know whether it has an impact on your business or future strategies.

Remember when PokemonGo took the internet by storm?

Photo Credits: Style Weekly

Photo Credits: Style Weekly

You’d be surprised at how jumping on the bandwagon can help to skyrocket your sales. Founder of Atlanta-based Farm Burger George Frangos never imagined having a staff lineup where the topic of the day would be Pokemon. But that’s exactly what happened. Many restaurants didn’t think they could get in on the action. But as they begin to explore the app, they were able to draw people into their store and of course, catch Pokemon profits.

Lesson learnt:
Snooze while your competitors are jumping on the trend — and you lose.

What is Google Trends data?

Google Trends is a free tool that lets anyone monitor search trends based on keywords worldwide, or specific regions. Google created Trends so people can see the pulse of searches as-it-happens, with data that goes as far back as 2004 to the present. As the most popular search engine, Google’s search data is indicative of public opinion and interests.

For example, which is more popular — sex or Facebook? When you navigate to the Google Trends dashboard, you can find out the popularity of “sex” and “Facebook” by manually comparing the results for those search terms.

The dashboard maps out search volume for these terms since 2004. Turns out that Facebook is far more popular than sex for over 6 years now.  Surprised? 😱
 

Google Trends search term results comparing Facebook and sex

Google Trends search term results comparing Facebook and sex

Starting with the Basics

But that data isn’t what matters most to restaurant owners. Restaurant owners and marketers want to know public opinion on what’s happening in their local vicinity. And that’s where Google Trends data comes in real handy. The search trends can go as granular as searches within local cities. Use this to your advantage by understanding interests related to your restaurant niche, like a signature dish for instance.

So, how do you do that?

Starting with the basics requires you to think just like your audience. For instance, every foodie’s dream came true when salted egg yolk was at the tippy top of the food popularity tower in 2016.

Salted egg yolk croissants, salted egg yolk corn, salted egg yolk rainbow cake… you get the drift.

Now, restaurant owners are thinking if the rise in salted egg yolk desserts has had an overall impact on the demand for salted egg yolk cuisines in Singapore.

Naturally, the key phrase indicative of this trend would be — you guessed it — salted egg yolk.

Typing the phrase in the search box gives you this result:

See how search interests have massively changed in the last 2 years? You’d also notice that the default region settings is set to Worldwide. Navigate to the Regional Interest panel and select your desired city. 

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Here’s where the fun starts. Scrolling down to the “Related topics” and “Related queries” panels will reveal interesting insights about popular menu items related to salted egg yolk.

The Craze For All Things Salted Egg

How accurate is the data? Based on news reports, we know that salted egg yolk desserts originated in Hong Kong but made its way to Singapore in late January 2016, when brunch cafe Flavour Flings started selling them. As more cafes get in on the frenzy, we can expect the interest in salted egg yolk to increase in popularity in late January 2016.

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There we go! What you’ll also notice is that the relative interest for salted egg yolk slowed down, before reaching a massive peak in June 2016:
 

So, what happened? If you’ve been following the industry closely, McDonald’s launched its salted egg yolk chicken burger in late June 2016. More users are probably searching McDonald’s salted egg yolk burger, causing the numbers to fly off the charts!

But let’s confirm your suspicion. Going back to the search panel, typing in “mcdonalds’” reveals a new graph with relative search interests between the two terms. Notice the consistent spike in late June 2016.

Once again, take your research further by scrolling down to the “Related Queries” panel which reveals an expected insight — “Breakout” term: salted egg yolk chicken burger.

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Keep track of what people are curious about. Then, brainstorm.

Confirming some of your suspicions about industry trends is a creative use of Google Trends data. The right content at the right time is key to your restaurant’s digital marketing success. Besides having fun exploring search terms, make use of this tool to find real-time marketing opportunities. Be on the look-out for what’s relevant, or use the data to find the right time to roll out seasonal favourites.

When it comes to brands hijacking trends, Oreo has got some of the best ideas ever! In 2013, the lights went out in the New Orleans Superdome for 34 minutes. Since then, Oreo’s timely tweet has had more than 15,000 retweets!


Of course, watching spikes in search terms is only a start to experimenting with Google Trends! But that alone can give you a small window of opportunity to skyrocket your sales.

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