If you ever took a marketing course in college or read some corporate strategy articles, you are likely familiar with the term “SWOT analysis”. To put it simply, it’s an exercise that identifies your business’s strengths, weakness, opportunities, and any threats it may face. With so many companies and competitors scrutinizing each move we make online, conducting a SWOT analysis from a social media point of view can be extremely valuable for your business.
Written by Kevin Gaertner
The great part about a SWOT is that it can be conducted within a few minutes if you base your analysis on assumptions. However, if you want to be more thorough, an in-depth and accurate SWOT can take months of intense research. Regardless of how long it takes you, it’s important to reevaluate your analysis as your business develops.
The textbook concept of SWOT is not often deliberately integrated into many small businesses. Some of the points that would be gained from the analysis might be already well known to an owner, and others are likely realized over the course of owning a business. Most of the time the “opportunity” portion is the reason we go into business in the first place.
This is not to say however that a good SWOT analysis can’t be helpful. If anything, it can reaffirm the direction your business is going, and bring up new ideas that should be evaluated.
With much of our marketing focus aimed online, check out these modern ways SWOT can be used with social media for your small business.
Every business has its strengths, but online you have the ability to convey so much more. Do you have sell something visually interesting to show? Do you have a unique story to tell? Have some brand personality?
Sure you can post all the traditional content, like the specific benefits of your product or service, but with social media it helps to get creative. Convey your brands identity by telling a story or using visuals.
Not only does this type of content engage better, but it allows you to really show off what makes your business different and great. Use bold headlines, colorful images, and enticing promotions to get your followers interested in what you have to say.
If your competitors just seem boring or lame online, leverage it by being the opposite; when it comes to social media, the company that can engage more followers will usually end up selling more.
This portion of the SWOT can be easy to identify since the majority of your competitors’ social media marketing is in plain view. By analyzing some of their decisions, you can learn about where your business is lacking both in marketing and in overall offerings.
Are competitors doing a great job with customer service on Facebook? If your own business has been weak in this area, make an effort to change that so you can keep up with the competition.
Is their engagement better with each post? Look closely at the type of content they are sharing, what kind of responses they are getting, and even the fine details such as the time of day they choose to post.
Take advantage of this very transparent form of marketing by finding improvements you can see your own business making. Do this regularly, as it will only make your business more competitive and effective in the long run.
Social media makes it incredibly easy to communicate with current and potential customers. It has created feedback channels only matched by face-to-face interaction. With many of us only having a presence online, make sure you use it to your advantage. Look at what is being said about you online as well as your audience’s overall engagement.
Many times your target market will be the best source of feedback online, so listening to what they say can be invaluable. Making them aware that you are open to using social media as primary means of communication makes you much more likely to receive feedback and suggestions.
People engage businesses in a number of different ways online. To get a better understanding of some opportunities out there, make sure you listen. Keep a close eye on what the comments are, which social sites you have the highest response rates, and who is sharing your content with their networks.
Not only does this give you a better understanding of social metrics, but you can get insight into the potential for new products, where under-served markets remain, and what improvements can help your business grow.
The last portion of a SWOT analysis can be the most disheartening, but it can also be the most helpful in many instances. It doesn’t always secure you new business, but it keeps you aware of what the competition is doing so you can continue to be on top.
Going back to how social media is inherently public, you want to keep a close eye on your competitors pages. Whether they are releasing a new product or have a revamped marketing strategy, you want to be aware as soon as possible. This lets you prepare accordingly just in case changes need to be to made in order for you to stay ahead
Look for what competitors and industry news sources are saying online, on any social network. They might be sending out tweets ahead of time trying to hype a upcoming product or service. They could post pictures on Instagram of something in the works. Look at their Facebook comments to see if they are addressing customer questions and revealing upcoming plans.
Anything and everything said online can potentially be scrutinized, especially when you are working hard to keep your business’ edge. Obviously don’t drive yourself crazy doing this constantly, but it’s important to keep your ears sharp so you know where the threats are coming from.
Give It A Try
Even if you have never actually conducted a SWOT analysis before, you can see that there are several good reasons to give it a try. Looking at it through the lens of social media enables you to think about the finer details – not only everything as a whole.
A good SWOT helps make you aware of what your business has going for it and where you need to watch out. And with so much competition out there, I think we all could go for some of that.
Kevin Gaertner is Co-Owner of Cyclone Strategies, a creative digital marketing agency which helps small businesses create and implement online marketing strategies. Read more tips and advice on his daily small business marketing blog.
Image via Flickr
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