Have you ever noticed how a new movie comes out and it seems like suddenly everyone is talking about it? Social media and online news certainly play a role in this phenomenon, but there’s something more basic happening here. People like to be in the know and feel like they belong.
This human tendency to create and follow cultural trends can work to your advantage when planning and marketing classes. If you know what’s trending, you have a better idea of what’s likely to interest or excite your students. Just learning to spot these trends is half the battle. We’ll show you where to look for current cultural trends and how to use these events to build irresistible classes.
What Are Cultural Trends?
Cultural trends are changes in the way members of a society think, interact, and spend their time. They might include things like TikTok dances and memes that become popular on social media, slang that spreads through middle and high schools faster than adults can follow, and the rise in work from home and the creator economy.
Trends can come from popular media, from changes in technology—like the intense focus on AI triggered by the release of ChatGPT—and from forces that are even more difficult to pin down.
Trends show you what people are thinking and talking about, which tells you what kinds of classes they may be looking for.
Defining what exactly counts as a trend is difficult, but you often know one when you see it. If many people are talking about an event, show, person, or technology, that subject may be reaching trend status.
You can borrow from the buzz around a cultural trend to make your classes more appealing. Trends show you what people are thinking and talking about, which tells you what kinds of classes they may be looking for.
5 Ways to Find Cultural Trends
Sometimes trends are impossible to ignore. For example, Harry Potter has been trending for almost two decades. Others are harder to spot, especially in fast-moving industries like fashion and technology. If your goal is to find them as they develop, rather than jumping on an already well-established trend, these strategies can help.
- Use Google Trends. Google Trends monitors changes in what people are searching for. You can use it to validate ideas for new classes or to track what people are wondering about.
- Watch what’s trending on social media. Social media gives you a window into what people are thinking about. Keep an eye on features like Twitter’s “What’s Happening” panel or the “LinkedIn News” sidebar.
- Plug into pop culture. The latest blockbuster movie, high-profile TV show, or book with a celebrity on the cover could be the start of a cultural trend. Pay attention to new releases, especially if you get the impression that “everyone is talking about it.”
- Monitor your competition. Look around at programs similar to yours. Do they seem to be focused on specific topics or class types? You can read industry news to help keep tabs on what these programs are doing.
- Talk to people and listen for patterns. Pay attention to the shows, books, music, and art references that come up repeatedly. If three different people mention the same TV show in one week, that might be a signal the show is trending.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed with trend spotting. You obviously don’t have time to read, watch, and attend everything that’s trending. Find smart ways to narrow your focus. Software like Buzzsumo can help automate the process of tracking competitors, brand mentions, and industry updates across platforms. You can also create Google Alerts to get an email when news stories mention specific topics.
One smart way to narrow your focus is to pay attention specifically to what’s trending in your community.
Zoom in on What’s Trending in Your Community
Focusing on local trends is a smart move since, even if you offer classes online, most of your students are likely to be local. When you look for local trends, you plug into what’s most interesting to local students. Plus, a local or regional twist helps you differentiate your classes from others.
Tying classes to local trends helps differentiate your program and lets you offer something uniquely tailored to your community.
Here’s how to do it:
- Check out the local events calendar. Can you anchor classes to these events?
- Read or watch the local news. What are the big stories of the day?
- Seek out local influencers. What are these people talking about?
The broader cultural trends are likely to impact your community, but finding community-specific trends can be especially valuable. They allow you to offer something uniquely tailored to your students and their interests.
A great example is Kirkland Performance Center, now accepting registrations for KPC Community Choir Sings Taylor Swift, preceding the wildly popular singer’s tour dates in nearby Seattle this summer. KPC entices aspiring singers and Swifties with this description: “In this session we’ll learn a concert full of Taylor Swift songs and present a Taylor Swift KPC Community Choir sing-along extravaganza with live band and red carpet selfies at the end of the session!”
How to Use Trends to Shape Classes
Look for connections between what’s trending and what you offer. For example, in April of 2023, news of a Moana live-action movie hit the internet, refreshing interest in a franchise that had reached trend status several years previously. This announcement created multiple opportunities to create classes that fans might find appealing. For example:
- A dance school might offer Hawaiian dance lessons.
- An art program might create a class around capturing images of the ocean using different media.
- An enrichment program might offer a deep dive into Polynesian culture or a look at how climate change is impacting our oceans.
The connections don’t have to be overt. The goal is not to create a Moana-branded class, which would probably run afoul of copyright and trademark laws anyway. Instead, you’re trying to answer questions students might ask as a result of their interest in a particular cultural trend.
Keep in mind that all of these ideas are just tools. You don’t need a cultural trend connection for every class your program offers. But every class does need a simple registration system. If you’re not already using CourseStorm’s class registration software, it’s time to jump on that trend. Start your free trial or contact us to get started.