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Social media SWOT analysis: what it is and how to do it

If you’re a marketer today, anything that helps you refine your social media goals is a plus.

Because the opportunities and marketing channels available to brands today are staggering. Simply put, social media marketing today is about creating goals that solve challenges, not simply investing in social “just because.”

Not sure what your next move should be? Second-guessing whether or not a campaign is actually going to pay off?

Good questions! A SWOT analysis can point you toward the answers ASAP.

In this guide, we’ll break down the principles of social media SWOT analysis and how performing one can result in a more actionable social strategy.

What is SWOT in marketing, though?

“Oh great, another new marketing acronym.”

Hey, don’t roll your eyes just yet! The SWOT technique for planning is actually an old-school concept that you might have encountered in Marketing 101.

The idea behind SWOT is simple: for every campaign or project, marketers analyze their strategies based on four specific quadrants (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).

Here’s a snapshot of what each quadrant represents as it pertains to social media:

  • Strengths: What are you doing well? What advantages or strengths does your brand boast? (“We have a definitive brand voice and active community”)
  • Weakness: Where might your business be lacking? What internal factors could hold you back from reaching your goals? (“We have a reduced marketing budget from last quarter; fewer resources and employees”)
  • Opportunities: What’s the incentive of your campaign or marketing push? What do you have to gain and what’s possible? (New leads, brand awareness and so on)
  • Threats: What outside forces could hinder your marketing efforts? (Competitors, the condition of the economy and so on)

SWOT analysis is unique in that it requires you to really dig into both qualitative and quantitative metrics. This means not only measuring hard numbers associated with your brand and business but also feelings and customer sentiment (think: feelings and emotions associated with your marketing).

Why do a SWOT analysis on social media?

Listen: we understand that your time is valuable and you’re probably already paying attention to your performance data.

However, taking the time to conduct a social media SWOT analysis is totally worth it. Below is a breakdown of the benefits.

Set SMART-er social media goals

We can’t stress enough the importance of setting SMART social media goals for the sake of accountability.

And in case you need a refresher, SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-sensitive.

That said, brands can struggle with figuring out what’s “realistic” and what isn’t. By conducting a SWOT analysis, you can better understand where you might struggle and what avoid putting yourself in a situation where you can’t meet your goals.

Additionally, SWOT encourages you to explore new opportunities and further define the “why” of your social presence.

SWOT encourages you to dig into your social data

This is another big one!

We’re obviously all about data here at Sprout. SWOT requires you to assess your business objectively and based on hard numbers. This means being able to prove what’s working, what’s not and where you can do better.

Anything that encourages you to take a data-driven approach to social is a plus, especially in an era where marketers are being held accountable by their bosses. Regular reporting and SWOT analysis represent another layer of strategizing and analyzing your social data in pursuit of better ROI.

The data from SWOT extends beyond social media

Finally, note that as social media SWOT analysis can highlight your marketings’ strengths, weaknesses and opportunities beyond social itself.

You can apply the principles of SWOT to email and SEO, for example. By making the SWOT framework a regular part of your marketing analysis, you can better align your social media marketing efforts as part of your larger funnel.

What do you need to conduct a social media SWOT analysis?

Okay, so let’s say you’re interested in conducting a SWOT analysis for your next campaign or marketing push.

The good news? You don’t need anything special to get started (although access to your native analytics or tools like Sprout can definitely help).

Here’s our breakdown for figuring out the specifics of each quadrant for a social media SWOT analysis.

Identifying strengths

First things first: what are you doing well? Based on analytics and your own experience working with your audience, assess the following:

  • Which social platforms are you most active on?  Where is your community most active?
  • What engages your community? Which posts are you top-performers?
  • What creative edges set you apart from your competition (think: brand voice, creatives and so on)?

Let’s start with your quantitative data. The question of your best content and most active communities can be found by looking at your native analytics (or compiled with the help of a tool like Sprout Social). Having these numbers handy can help you determine where you should be focusing your energy in terms of platforms and content creation.

Beyond data, start looking at what sets your social media strategy apart from the crowd. Is it your unique visuals? Voice and captions? For example, brands like Skullcandy have carved out a niche for themselves with colorful content themes and high-res imagery.

content themes on instagram

Figuring out your creative strengths isn’t a matter of black and white, but looking at your top performing posts can give you some ideas. You can likewise monitor your mentions and understand what it is that customers love about your product, service or brand.

Identifying weaknesses

Okay, now for the not-so-fun part.

Determining your weaknesses is a crucial piece of looking at your social presence objectively and figuring out where you can improve. Start with the following:

  • Which platforms are you struggling with in terms of engagement or growth?
  • Which past social media initiatives resulted in a loss in terms of your time and/or resources? What happened?
  • What are your competitors’ strengths? What’s causing them to get positive shout-outs and what’s fueling your negative ones?

Again, analytics can be a huge help here. For example, Sprout’s platform allows you to assess your performance data versus your competitors’ on any given platform.

facebook competitor report

Additionally, hashtag monitoring and social listening can clue you in conversations that result in praise or criticism from your audience. If you want to know how your customers feel about you and your competitors, keyword tracking is a solid place to start.

hashtag analytics


Identifying opportunities

To figure out whether or not a campaign is worth it, you need to assess the rewards against the risks.

You also need to hone in on indicators from customers that signal you could be doing more with your presence. For starters:

  • Read comments and questions for customers regarding products and promotions they’re interested in.
  • Look at competitors and other industry players to see which platforms and marketing channels they’re exploring.
  • Assess your lead generation and current ROI from social media: what specific metrics do you want to improve?

These answers can point you toward what’s next, ultimately helping your social presence from growing stale.

Identifying threats

Threats can be difficult to pin down, especially considering that assessing threats prior to a campaign can be a game of “what if.”

Regardless, some threats to keep in the back of your mind while you conduct social media SWOT analysis include:

  • Changes to the various social media algorithms
  • New initiatives and marketing push on behalf of your competitors that could eat into your target market
  • The current condition of your market or customer base

You can’t put too much stock into your threats before they actually make themselves apparent. Heck, a lot of them are beyond your control. That said, acknowledging them can help you keep your expectations realistic.

With these four quadrants spelled out, you can clearly identify whether or not you should move forward with your campaign or make adjustments to your strategy.

What are some scenarios for social media SWOT analysis?

To wrap things up, let’s look into some sample scenarios where SWOT analysis would be particularly useful.

Running a new social media ad campaign

Paid social advertising is becoming more and more of an expectation rather than an exception to the rule. That said, figuring out whether the initial investment makes sense requires some serious research.

Conducing a social media SWOT analysis is a smart move prior to a paid campaign

Let’s look at an example of how SWOT helps marketers decide whether they should move forward with social ads on Facebook.

  • Strengths: “We have a variety of successful Facebook posts which can be converted to ads; our Facebook community has been consistently engaged over the past three months.”
  • Weaknesses: “Since we have never run a Facebook campaign before, we have no baseline ad performance data; quarterly budget for social marketing is also tight.”
  • Opportunities: “New leads; remarketing to former customers; increased brand awareness.”
  • Threats: “Smaller quarterly budget for social media means that money may run out before we can see an actual ROI; competitors are ramping up their ad spend.”

Investing in a new social platform

Taking on an entirely new social platform is a risk in terms of your time and resources. That said, the boom of LinkedIn and emerging networks like TikTok require brands to do some soul-searching to figure out where their time and money is best spent.

SWOT analysis can help you understand if a new platform like TikTok makes sense for your brand

Here’s a sample SWOT analysis as it pertains to exploring a new network (for this example, we’ll use TikTok).

  • Strengths: “We already have an existing Instagram community and a repository of visual content via Stories; that content performs well and can be rolled out on TikTok.”
  • Weaknesses: “We’re not 100% sure of the potential ROI of TikTok; we don’t want to spread our resources thin.”
  • Opportunities: “New followers; an opportunity to reach a younger demographic and squeeze more out of our video marketing budget.
  • Threats: “Given that none of our current competitors are on TikTok, there are no external threats associated with getting started on the platform.”

Increasing your overall social spend

According to the 2019 Sprout Social Index, approximately one-third of marketers struggle with securing the necessary social budget for their campaignssocial media SWOT analysis can help you secure the necessary budget for your next campaign

If you’re interested in upping your overall social spend, you’ll need to highlight where your ROI is going to come from and emphasize what you’re doing right. Here’s what that analysis might look like via SWOT for someone trying to convince their boss that more funds make sense.

  • Strengths: “We’re currently seeing a steady growth of social traffic and leads coming from LinkedIn.”
  • Weaknesses: “Our paid and organic presence on Facebook is longer producing much of an ROI; same rings true for Instagram.”
  • Opportunities: “Refocus efforts on B2B-friendly channels like LinkedIn and Twitter; prioritize lead generation and customer nurturing versus brand awareness.”
  • Threats: “Our immediate competitors appear to be investing in Instagram where we have very little presence.”

And with that, we wrap up our guide to SWOT!

Ready to conduct a social media SWOT analysis yourself?

SWOT might seem complicated on the surface, but the idea is straightforward: look at your strengths, weaknesses and opportunities in detail before pushing toward a new campaign.

Anything you can do to set better goals and give your social presence more purpose is a plus. SWOT analysis does exactly that.

If you’re looking to conduct a social media SWOT analysis, your head is in the right place. With the steps outlined above and our social media audit template, you can get started on your analysis ASAP!

This post Social media SWOT analysis: what it is and how to do it originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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