Topsy: Instant social insight

Trendspotting in real time on

June 28, 2013

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple weeks, you’ve probably seen some of the recent discussion around Instagram and Vine.

In our conversations with reporters, we’re sometimes asked how our free social trend analysis tools on are different than the analytics tools available in our Topsy Pro product—and the Instagram/Vine comparison is a great illustration of these differences. While both products show trends in social conversation, the free Topsy service provides just a subset of the analysis available in Topsy Pro (which also includes tools for sentiment analysis, geo-inference, and influencer discovery, just to name a few).

The free Topsy service generates trend charts using a sample of the most influential people and tweets. This allows users to see emerging trends among influencers in real time.

We saw that influential people and early adopters were quick to try Vine in the first few months of the year, sending the trend chart from our free service soaring. When Instagram launched its video service last week, we saw another wave of buzz, which caused a surge in Instagram’s trend chart as influencers flocked to try out the new service. (No big surprise there: Twitter users aren’t known for their long attention spans. :) )

Topsy Pro, on the other hand, counts all tweets and all people, both influential and less so. This allows users to discover and measure emerging trends, with exact counts of everything that’s happening and has happened historically.

So while the free service gives you a high-level snapshot of the momentum and direction of the social conversation around a topic or domain, Topsy Pro gives you the complete and unfiltered picture that accounts for every single tweet. Because influencers tend to move faster than the general social media population to try the newest things—which is part of what makes them influential—new trends or changes in the direction of trends can appear amplified in charts generated by our free service.

It’s important to understand how this amplification effect works when using our free product, since there are occasionally topics that get a disproportionately large amount of attention from influencers. This is what’s been happening as the social conversation about Vine and Instagram has evolved.

Will the trends of the past week continue? Only time will tell. But either way, the free service on will be there to help pinpoint the next big trend as it emerges—and Topsy Pro will be there to provide comprehensive real-time analysis and insight on the complete social conversation.

Posted by Jeanne