Strengths and weaknesses belong to your organisation – there is something you can do about it (most of the time). The second part of the SWOT analysis aims at identifying external opportunities and threats. They happen to exist outside your organisation and are essential to consider in order to reach your objectives. Because you've defined your objectives, right?
This very post will soon sound dated as the online environment evolves rather quickly (and that all this SWOT series is based on internal workshops we conducted in 2011). However, the ones I kept here are still worth to be considered, methinks.
Opportunities – external origin.
1°- There is no online world anymore.
The online dimension of life may have gone too far, depending on one's taste for technology, computers, tablets and social media. But it has become so interlaced with all aspects of our good old analogue life that only fools believe the two worlds are apart. "The world is not changing, the world has changed!" says Alec Ross who knows more than a little in this matter.
As a consequence, every lasting distinction between, say "communication" and "online communication", or "policy" and "social media policy" is absolutely vane. And useless. At best, it might empower some old school managers with the feeling that everything is compartimented therefore is under control. Well, it's not.
The right move should be to fully embrace it – spreading digital mindset within and accept there is no such thing as a separate digital world.
If you're looking for a more concrete example than the photo above, look how online practices, designs, formats, have influenced traditional medias. It's better to embrace this influence than to keep considering it as distinct.
To serve people with information not only according to their interests or their needs but depending also on their current location offers a large number of interesting possibilities. This is the final link for fine tuning what people want in the context of their physical presence (the next step will be to adjust your offer to their actual state of mood – chances are it will soon be possible).
In the context of an online presence, geolocalisation can only add relevance to the offer you make. Since you are two minutes away from our store / shop / newsdesk / meeting room why don't you pop-in? Since there is a cinema theater right around the corner, here are the next movies playing within 30 minutes. And this selection is based on your recent history in movies watching – yes, algorithms are already fine tuning what to propose to you on the basis of your browser history, shopping datas, online shared tastes and affinities, what your facebook friends like etc.
Geolocalisation offers many ways to engage the conversation on the basic premices that you (aka some part of your offer) and (at least some part of) your audience happen to be at the same place at the same time. Love stories all started this way.
3°- Data mining and super-segmentation
The Obama team for 2012 Presidential run didn't invent data mining nor super-segmentation. They just demonstrated how much a game changer it could be. You'll find myriads of good articles about the use of data by Obama team. I'd recommend :
Obama’s White Whale by Slate and 40 Engineers Worked 14-Hour Days, 7 Days A Week To Get Obama Reelected—Here Is Their Story by Business Insider.
In a nutshell, the amount of available data about your audience and the possibilities offered for super-segmentation (eg the possibility to address a very small part of your audience with the exact content or information they'd be concerned with) are the new combination for success. It is not free (although some social media platform offers quite precise segmentation possibilities), it is technical (which means it requires specific skills) and it might well be what you should start to develop within your organization, if only to identify the online conversations about you, your brand, your products and your organisation. You do know people are talking NOW about you even if you're not there, right?
One Threat – external origin
Solipsism is the attitude of considering oneself as the only existing sentient creature of interest. Best example I can give comes to the typical awful sentence concluding bad relationship: "It's not you, it's me".
This state of mind is common to certain organisations and manifests itself in a deep belief that there is no other reality than the organisation's own reality. This leads to pushing messages, issues, subjects that have no interests for your audience – especially since your audience may well be already engaged in totally different kind of conversations.
Hence, your audience won't listen to what you thought it was important for you to say. This is 2013 and it is happening everyday.
Depending on your organization and the sector you evolve in, many threats are waiting for you around the corner. This would be futile to list all of them – I am sure you got the idea.
What do we do now?
You've got your nice little matrix filled in – yet, what should you do? The first answer is useless yet important:
You jump on opportunities, stay aware of threats, improve your strengths and fight your weaknesses.
It is useless because it sound like a fortune cookie. Still, it underlines the right attitude one should keep when looking at the SWOT matrix. In particular, "Improve your strengths" is too often looked over by managers. It's true you should not fix something that ain't broken – but improving what is today considered as good is as crucial as fighting your existing weaknesses. If one doesn't develop one's assets, they stagnate, rot and become weaknesses.
The second answer to the question "What do we do?" is simple and pragmatic:
You engage the conversation.
Which is exactly what we will cover in the next post of this series.