You’ve got a client that is hyped up about utilizing social media. Your instinct is telling you that you also think the client’s project could benefit from engaging in social media and building an online community.
As I’ve harped repeatedly here, the key first step is to take a bird’s eye view and assess the social media landscape with regard to the audience you plan to target.
Now, where do you start your trend-tracking?
Aside from getting your Google alerts set up, Google Reader can serve as a comprehensive tracking tool to provide you with a one-stop location to monitor any news and blog search terms you desire. This prevents your inbox from flooding with tons of Google alerts.
Google analytics is of course another great option for tracking trends. In addition, I’ve just recently been making more use of SiteVolume. This site has a very clean, simple interface where you plug in some key terms and it quickly shows you how many times these keywords are appearing on Digg, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr and Twitter. The obvious downfall is that this is where the data-drilling ends so you’re left without further insight on where these tags are appearing (e.g. MySpace blog post? Just on the profile? Tagged in a video?).