Amateur Fun: What is Trendy?

Four days ago, I linked a study on major 2009 trends for online journalism. But before diving too far into the study, I wanted to do my own homework.

I could even develop a hypothesis, test it as if I were in a virtual lab and create my own theories based on my pseudo-facts, I thought to myself.

My fun project led me to an even more fun layman tool, Google Trends.

The procedure was very simple:

  1. Find the top social media and news media contenders.
  2. Pluck out the winners and pit them against each other, social media versus news media.

Hypothesis: social media will defeat top news media by a substantial margin.

But the real question in this fun exercise is, which social medium will it be?

Google Trend Results

Social Media v. Itself

Social Media v. Itself

I plucked the first social media names that popped in my mind and created this trend chart from there.  Although not every Internet-goer may agree that YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are the ultimate social media gurus, I chose them for the sake of fun.

Other social media possibilities were Digg and Flickr, but I quickly tested them beforehand and found that their trends were comparatively minuscule compared to the four other giants. Maybe another day, Digg and Flickr.

Since this social media battle needs a winner, first place goes to Facebook, which seemingly overcame YouTube in 2009 after a long, arduous battle that (according to this trend) spanned about four years.

Moving forward…

News Media v. Itself

News Media v. Itself

In this part of the exercise, I chose the three main broadcast media giants: CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. Although I could have chosen online newspaper outlets instead, I decided to compare the three largest broadcast networks, and see the online records that each holds to its name.

In this part of the contest, CNN is the clear winner.

In the future, I’ll do another fun exercise and compare my favored online news media: publications.

I, for one, am infinitely curious to see the online trends for The New York Times, The Economist and my personal local favorite, The Washington Post.

Now for the final contest…

Final Contenders: Social Media v. News Media

Social Media v. News Media

There is no comparison. Facebook started to simmer in 2005, and suddenly took off towards the end of 2007 and became the social media giant it is today. CNN’s online trends – again, according only to Google – barely register in comparison.

Hypothesis supported, and question answered. In this fun exercise, Facebook was the winner against its own fellows as well as its foes.

Concluding Thoughts

Admittedly, the methods and execution of this exercise are flimsy at best. I’m not a self-proclaimed expert of media trends, only an observer caught in its current. I claim only a high personal interest in this topic at best, and I’ll leave the true research and conclusions to the experts.

On a final note, it’s almost wondrous to see how the social media chart almost explodes into activity a few years after each medium was created. Time will tell whether all this popularity will stay.

On the other hand, the news media chart looks more like an irregular heartbeat. Perhaps that phrase is a sweet but fitting metaphor for how the industry is reeling from economic turmoil, even if it’s just for now.

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