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With a goal of protecting lives and property through timely issuance of watches and warnings for hazardous weather, the National Weather Service (NWS) is now turning to social media to increase its reach. Realizing that people are spending more time on popular social media platforms than watching TV or listening to the radio, the NWS is stepping up its game. Here’s what your brand or business can learn from the NWS.
Lessons from the National Weather Service on how to use social media
For the National Weather Service, time is of the essence. Every second, every minute, counts, so the NWS is big on including a call to action with every social media post. The typical call to action is advice on how best to react swiftly, safely, or responsibly to hazardous weather. It might be something as simple as “take shelter immediately,” but it’s meant to get results.
As a brand or business, you can leverage this same thinking when creating social media posts. Of course, you won’t be posting about the weather, but you can think of clever call to action statements for your brand. It could be as simple as “Don’t forget to sign up for our weekly newsletter to learn more.” Or maybe something like, “Join us next week for a special live stream.” You get the idea – you need someone reading your social media post to take some sort of action that will deepen the relationship with your brand.
Leverage the power of the crowd
The National Weather Service is also very good at crowdsourcing photos, images, and on-the-ground reports from everyday citizens. Thus, to understand how the path of a storm is tracking, they might examine photos of storm damage. This will let them know if a storm is losing its intensity over time. Or, they might use photos of severe flooding to amplify the message of “stay off the roads.”
As a brand, you too can leverage the power of the crowd. Don’t be afraid to ask your fans and followers for photos or videos to document their interaction with your brand. Celebrate your most creative followers. Who knows? Maybe they will come up with your next great advertising tagline, or help you discover an unknown demographic of supporters.
Be aware of misinformation and disinformation
It’s a sad but true fact, but some people sharing their photos and videos with the National Weather Service are sharing misinformation and even disinformation. In some cases, it’s unintentional, as in people sharing photos or videos of recent storms instead of the current storm. But in other cases, says the NWS, it appears to be intentional. You can think of these people as weather trolls.
So you really need to be on your toes as a brand on social media. Make sure you know who’s running your social media feeds, and alert them to possible misinformation or disinformation from trolls looking to embarrass your business. You always want to under-promise and over-deliver, and not the other way around. So make sure everything being posted from your social media accounts is true and accurate, and that your team knows how to interact with online trolls.
According to the National Weather Service, it has had so much success with weather forecasts and weather alerts that it is now dedicating more attention to education and outreach efforts. If you follow the suggestions above, you’ll also have similar success in running a social media feed. Instead of mobilizing the crowd ahead of a big weather event like the NWS, you’ll be mobilizing fans and followers ahead of a major product launch or store opening. And that will help to grow your brand online.