Now that 2019 is here, what should your brand or business be focused on during this first, pace-setting quarter? In addition to metrics like revenue, profit margins, expenses, and monthly profits/losses, there are several social KPIs worth tracking – because they can define the next year.

For that to happen, though, you need to first determine your goals for the year and quarter. To figure out those, you might want to perform a social media audit, or other specific types of social analytics reporting, to understand the best places to focus your energy.

Whatever your brand goals, here are some metrics to track as you head toward Q2:

Response to Ad Campaigns

The first quarter brings several high-profile events for brands to latch onto – including one of the biggest events of the year for advertisers, the Super Bowl.

In recent years Super Bowl commercials have “dropped” early, to extend their life beyond game day. This also gives brands an opportunity to assess audience response to not only their own ads, but the ads of competitors.

Beer brands take note, Budweiser is coming for you with wind-power, Bob Dylan, and the Clydesdales everyone missed last year. The ad was released January 23 and had more than 400K views in the first 24 hours.

Are those views all positive? Well, there are a lot of thumbs up on YouTube – but what are they in favor of? The renewable energy source? The dulcet tones of Dylan singing “Blowin’ in the Wind?” The Clydesdales?

You’ve got to track specifics to know how to proceed.

Measuring the Basics

Specifics matter at the most basic level as well. Whether it’s an increase or decrease in mentions, followers, or engagement you want to know it’s happening – and what’s driving it.

Gillette, for example, gained nearly 25K followers over the course of the past week – along with nearly 300K engagements. This was in response to their new ad, which has stirred up consumer emotions in a big way.

While new followers – if they’re legit, and not there to troll you – are great, increased engagement has to be contextualized before it can be celebrated. Which brings us to…

Sentiment, Sentiment, Sentiment

What you really have to track is sentiment of all things as you navigate the first quarter – and every quarter. How consumers feel – and how strongly they feel it – tells you everything you need to know about how your brand is performing.

Use sentiment to qualify the analytics you track and you’ll have a much more accurate picture – and be ahead of any brand not using it.

Emerging Trends

It’s not just the Super Bowl that will have consumers talking in the first quarter. The beginning of the year also coincides with Awards Season, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and any number of lesser known holidays you might find valuable.

That’s to say nothing of other trends that might emerge around a hot new movie – like Bird Box – or clothing styles, games, food, etc. The only way to know what’s got consumer buzzing is to pay attention via social monitoring.

Not every trend will be important to your brand – but you want opting in or out to be a decision based on your audience, not the result of being oblivious.

Content and Channels

Both content and channels follow trends of their own – and you have to stay on top of them. You might find your audience was all about Pinterest crafts over the holidays, but now are glued to YouTube watching music videos to prep for the Grammys.

Or perhaps they’re all about Instagram – but are they more focused on images, or videos? You have to know so you can deliver on those preferences. And they can change at any time.

Use tools like image analytics to understand what they love about the visual content they share – and whether they’re “talking about” your brand or competitors without words.

Your Audience

Another thing that can change is your audience. With each new ad campaign, with every trend that takes hold, social consumers shift preferences as well. Maybe you never had a strong connection to the women in your audience, but a new segment has emerged based on changes to your product line, customer service improvements, or emerging influencers.

Be aware of these shifts – and how you can speak to their needs. Maybe develop a product with them in mind? Or an ad campaign that shows them you see them?

Be sure to track your influencers as well – and put them to work. They offer a great way to find new audiences too.

Competitor Activity

Another way to gain new audience segments is by attracting a group let down by your competitors. Be aware of any issues you can resolve to sway dissatisfied consumers your way.

Also watch for audience response to competitor messaging, ads, product updates, etc., and learn from their social successes and failures. At the same time, use your analytics tools to mine social for consumer-inspired ideas your competitors aren’t taking advantage of.

Be on the Lookout for Unexpected Opportunities

While you right wrongs or continue momentum gained in the previous quarter, you should be on the lookout for surprises that could mean new business for your brand.

This could be new audience segments, new channels, new products, new ways of providing an amazing customer experience… Don’t assume you know all you need to know, or that your blueprint should be the same as last year’s.

The whole point of tracking is to see where you end up. If you already knew, you wouldn’t need to bother! Stay on top of social sentiment, and get ready for a stellar year.

We’re ready to help with our comprehensive social analytics tools. Reach out to see them in action.

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