A Brief Introduction to SWOT Analysis

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and it is a method used to evaluate competitive positions and develop strategic planning.  A SWOT analysis is a great way to guide business strategy meetings. It’s powerful to have everyone in the room discuss the company’s core strengths and weaknesses and then move from there to define the opportunities and threats, and finally to brainstorming ideas. The SWOT analysis you envision before the session often changes throughout to reflect factors you were unaware of and would never have captured if not for the group’s input.  A company can use a SWOT for overall business strategy sessions or a specific segment such as marketing, production, or sales. This way, you can see how the overall strategy developed from the SWOT analysis will filter down to the segments below before committing to it. You can also work in reverse with a segment-specific SWOT analysis that feeds into an overall SWOT analysis.

  • Strengths describe what an organization excels at and what separates it from the competitors.   These are controlled elements, and it is essential, to be honest about what you list. 
  • Weaknesses stop an organization from performing at its optimum level. They are areas where the business needs to improve to remain competitive: a weak brand, higher-than-average turnover, high levels of debt, an inadequate supply chain, or lack of capital.
  • Opportunities refer to favorable external factors that could give an organization a competitive advantage.
  • Threats refer to factors that have the potential to harm an organization. For example, a drought is a threat to a wheat-producing company, as it may destroy or reduce the crop yield. Other common hazards include rising costs for materials, increasing competition, tight labor supply, and so on.

A complete SWOT analysis requires extensive research that would usually take months. It is also important to surround yourself with individuals that will be open and honest. However, you cannot write a social media marketing plan without conducting a competitive analysis.  Competitive analysis can reveal what your competitors are already doing on social media. Perhaps they use Facebook but have put little effort into Twitter and Instagram.   This knowledge deserves some looking into.  Is there a reason they have avoided these platforms, or are they missing out on an opportunity? Sometimes, it is wise to focus on our customers’ under-served, rather than win fans away. 

Here is a useful resource with more information on how to conduct a COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS ON SOCIAL MEDIA.

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