Looking at Social Trends for Recession Indicators

Written on November 13, 2008 – 4:38 pm | by Brendan Picha |

First let me apologize for muttering the R-word but it goes without saying, it’s currently an influencing social and economic trend. The recession indicators I’m going to talk about aren’t your typical indicators as seen through the eyes of economists like the stock price of Starbucks or lipstick sales. What I’m going to point out and touch on is obviously surmised from the current economic state of things but has yet to be specifically defined in terms of social trends right now. If we wander over to Google Zeitgeist (trends, trends for websites, insights, hot trends), Twitter Search, Addict-o-matic popular and others, we can pick up on signals that speak to how our world is functioning and reacting to a recession mentality. Through these indicators we can make decisions and predictions on how to act or even how to prepare ourselves.

Let’s take a look at some of these findings:

Trend: oDesk
Popularity: Google Trends # 1

oDesk is a site that allows you to “Hire, Manage, and Pay remote contractors as if they were in your office.” Although oDesk’s hot trend rank is more than economy based, with the current mass layoffs it’s easy assume how a site like this would become very popular during a recession. Virtual employees do not require commuting (gas and auto costs) and can operate anywhere. All while saving employers money on costs like health coverage, on utilities that a normal office would consume, and since it’s hourly based pay only, there’s no worry that employers may be paying for employee downtime which would normally be the case with salary-based pay.

Trend: Etsy art
Popularity: Google Trends # 11

Etsy is a popular craft site that allows artists to display and sell their wares. Most often you can find great deals on handmade jewelry, scarves, art, etc. Basically anything that could be handmade can be found here. With the holiday season right around the corner, I anticipate Etsy will be riding high.

Trend: waste management jobs
Popularity: Google Trends # 20

When Benjamin Franklin said “In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes” he forgot to mention trash. Waste management is a high paying yet low demand job that doesn’t require a college degree. It’s also not a municipal service that would likely fall victim to budget cuts like police and fire departments.

Article: Wal-Mart posts higher 3Q profit
Popularity: Addict-o-matic > Yahoo News

Unfortunately many American’s love Wal-Mart and I’m not going to get into why Wal-Mart is bad for the U.S. economy but I will say the common perception of Wal-Mart is that it’s the cheapest and easiest place to get just about everything. Penny pinchers think shopping here will save them money when in actuality middle-America might still have some coin if Wal-Mart never existed.

Article: Apple may launch most aggressive Black Friday sale yet
Popularity: Addic-o-matic > Digg

Retailers are going to have a hell of a time selling much of anything in Q4. Luckily the consumer comes out on top when retailers compete. Even though the holiday season is near and consumers will benefit from heavily discounted sales, it still may be very difficult for retailers to make their investors happy.

So what can we piece together from the above? Well, besides needing a drink or anti-depressant (invest in pharma now), we know that hiring through oDesk may be a good option for small to medium-sized business owners, we know that Etsy may be a smart place to get some good deals on quality holiday gifts, we know that jobless claims are up and people are looking for work in not-so-desirable places, we know that people are in the money-saving mindset, and consumers are going to get some great deals this holiday season.

Buckle-up folks, we know it’s going to be a bumpy ride…oftentimes social media will tell us just HOW bumpy the ride will be.

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  1. 3 Responses to “Looking at Social Trends for Recession Indicators”

  2. By TripTheLady on Nov 22, 2008 | Reply

    very interesting read. you have me examining my own social marketing habits. my economy is why i became a blogger – i wanted to make money. Not too many bucks rolling in but i love the work 😉

  3. By Stephanie Valentine on Mar 9, 2009 | Reply

    Wow, this is really an interesting way to dig through indicators. I would have never thought of this. Your point about trash services not being subject to recession is soooo true. Good point and makes one think about how to be indispensable…like trash services!

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