Social Media for Broadcast Meteorologists: Seven Ways You Can Drive Followers to Tune In
For on-air meteorologists, social media can be a best friend or a worst nightmare. As popular platforms like Facebook and Twitter continue to grow, the task of creating an effective and manageable social media strategy becomes more challenging.
Most broadcast meteorologists make social media a part of their daily activities—with some reporting that they use networking sites up to 75 percent of the day. When weather breaks, it’s the first place viewers head to get the information they need. Social media management has become more than just a good idea. It’s mandatory. In fact, Nielsen announced that it will measure total program-related activity across Twitter and Facebook, and factor it into station ratings. Now—more than ever—social media matters.
We sat down with Bryan Hughes of WOWK in Charleston, West Virginia and Erik Dean at K2TV in Casper, Wyoming to discuss best weather practices when it comes to social media outreach.
Set Reachable Goals
Improving your social media presence begins with examining your current strategy and setting goals. Who are your followers? What type of posts worked well in the past? How can you enhance communication with your audience?
“Nearly four and a half years ago, our team sat down and came up with a strategy to grow our social media following,” said Hughes. “Since then, we have grown from a Facebook audience of 9,000 to more than 200,000 followers. We currently have the largest social media audience of any local broadcaster in the country.”
Once you have created your station’s personal goals, take the necessary steps to reach them. Look to other stations that are successful on social. Determine where you can improve. For example, your goal could be getting more Likes and Shares from your current audience, or enticing new followers to subscribe to your posts. Remember to pick reasonable goals and try not to rush the process. Delegate tasks and commit to making social media a priority.
Pique Their Curiosity
Many millennials are using social media as their sole source of weather content, but what can you do to make them turn on the TV? Consider framing your posts to pique your followers’ interest.
“We use language that makes viewers want to watch our on-air coverage,” said Dean. “We might share a nice outdoor graphic with the message like, ‘The weather for the next two days will be perfect to break out your grill, but will this trend continue? Find out tonight at 5.’”
Hughes says that it’s all about building your brand and thinking of the bigger picture.
“Even though the younger audience might only see you on Facebook right now, you have to think in the long-term,” said Hughes. “You can’t expect an immediate shift. You have to trust that when they get older and switch their habits, your channel will be the one they watch. It isn’t a sprint to convert viewership, but more of a marathon.”
Post During High-Impact Weather Events
Social media is continually becoming the number one resource people look to during severe weather because of its frequently updated information. Use high-traffic periods to your advantage by posting valuable content.
“During high-impact events our engagement goes through the roof,” said Hughes. “Use the traffic to share your best-looking, informative weather posts and check out what your audience is posting too. Comment on their weather pictures. This lets them know their contributions are important too.”
Dean said that social media has become his team’s eyes and ears during critical weather. “If you’ve got a report of hail, ask viewers to send in photos. This is a great way to utilize the power of social media.”
Try to Make Them Laugh
Lifestyle weather content is a wonderful way to harness the power of comedy. Dean and his weather team created “The Seedorff Factor”—a graphic that bases wind speed on how much damage the breeze will do to a hair-conscious anchor at their station.
Dean and Hughes don’t shy away from using humor. But they also stressed that there is an appropriate time to share a laugh.
“You wouldn’t be funny during dangerous weather,” said Hughes. “It’s only appropriate after the event, as long as it wasn’t severe. When a blizzard is over, we may post an image of a snowman hitchhiking to Florida—or something like that.” Hughes was recently the subject of a viral video where his on-air scream at an unwelcomed spider earned him millions of views. He knows a thing or two about the power of comedy.
Take Control of Your Workload
One of the greatest challenges that on-air meteorologists face is juggling a demanding workload. Social media can be easily neglected, and quality content can be hard to come by. That’s why it’s important to have tools that make the task easier and more efficient.
Weather Video Producer and WeatherShare
Weather Video Producer and WeatherShare are available within the Baron Lynx interface, as well as other Baron systems. These tools allow users to create short videos/posts, and instantly share them on Facebook and Twitter.
“We see a lot of positive engagement when we share videos,” said Dean. “That’s why we use our Weather Video Producer to help us post quality content without sacrificing time. Instead of creating, saving and uploading a movie, we can just record and immediately send it to both of our social channels at once.”
“We use Weather Video Producer quite a bit for Facebook and WeatherShare for Twitter,” said Hughes. “Sometimes it’s just a looping forecast model, but we always get a great response from our audience. Our videos are up in less than 60 seconds. It’s wonderful!”
Baron Lynx Social Media Hub
Baron Lynx makes it much easier to find and import the social media content you want to share on-air. Rather than manually search through Facebook and Twitter, a web-based Social Media Hub automatically gathers the posts you want based on user settings. Hughes and his team use this feature to find and share exciting social media posts on-air and with their social media audience.
“We have accounts that we follow, and we really love this feature,” said Hughes.
Learn more about these tools and the science behind Baron Lynx at the 2016 AMS Broadcast Conference. Baron will be hosting an informative Lunch & Learn, followed by a Baron Lynx Premiere session where attendees can ask their questions and see the system in action. Save your spot for one or both of these events by registering here: http://baronweather.com/news/baron-at-ams-broadcast/
Test Your Content and Adapt
Sharing weather content on social media can be a challenge, because trends are always evolving. The best way to find out what works is through A/B testing. Do your followers want more forecast images—videos? Or are they looking for in-depth content about specific weather events? No one should know your audience better than you.
“A social media strategy for weather is constantly changing,” said Hughes. “The way you deliver this month may not be the way the audience wants it next month.” Hughes and other members of his team try out new types of content to see what their audience responds to. They keep each other informed of what posts are working and which ones aren’t. Through this process, they discovered that space-related posts usually get the highest engagement on their page.
Interact with Your Followers
There are multitudes of resources available for anyone wishing to improve their social media strategy. While every source provides helpful guidelines, it really comes down to what works for your station. Don’t feel like your posts have to follow a specific formula. The most important thing is that you interact with your audience. This may seem simple, but it’s an often-ignored step.
“Social media is very important for a station in order to stay involved with its viewers,” said Hughes. “But if you are forcing it, you probably aren’t doing it right.”
The important thing is to know and listen to your audience. Engage your viewers and respond to their questions. Go out of your way to Like their posts and comment on their pictures. Social media is meant for two-way communication.
“It’s about trust,” said Hughes. “They will know they are part of a community when you interact with them and use social media to its fullest potential.”