How We Covered Severe Weather On Social Media

From Hurricane Hermine to the flooding in Baton Rouge, severe weather has dominated the headlines the last few weeks. We know that the majority of U.S. adults get their news on social media. Let's examine how local stations across the country took advantage of this to inform and engage viewers in the digital space during our recent severe weather situations. 

RELATED: September 2016 Hot Clips - a look at the recent flooding and tropical weather events in the Southeast.



We have the opportunity to communicate with viewers no matter where they are. A number of stations took advantage of livestreaming their coverage to ensure their viewing areas stayed informed and alerted. 

Tampa Bay's WFTS five-minute online broadcast of Hurricane Hermine's landfall in Florida was viewed more than 287,000 times, shared more than 3200 times and featured more than 1200 comments.


WFTS Facebook Post

The language of the post promoted engagement, encouraging viewers to click back to unique landing pages on to "Track the storm" and stay updated on "Closings & Outages".


Many meteorologists livestreamed storm updates similar to what WECT's Eric Davis did in this Facebook update. These quick, topical broadcasts are effective for keeping viewers up-to-speed with the latest information.


Eric took it a step further and fostered even more engagement by answering viewers and subscribers questions in the comments section.


Social Media Posts

Posting creative images and video on social media is an effective way to keep viewers informed before, during and after severe weather situations.


WAFB's Elizabeth Vowell consistently shared powerful, compelling video on her social media platforms that showed the impact of the Baton Rouge flooding.


WFTS incorporated user-generated content in its post-Hermine coverage online by using a viewer's drone footage and, of course, tagging him in the post. Again, a powerful image and well-done piece of social-only content that generated more than 28,000 views and 197 shares. 



Branding is also important. Many stations, like Savannah's WTOC, were agile with their social media images. Updating a Facebook cover photo during the severe weather situation is a quick change that delivers a strong visual impact. It also reminds viewers to download our App and reinforces that we're consistently covering the storm on all platforms. 



When severe weather ravages a community, we have the opportunity to help those impacted. This post on WAFB's Facebook page illustrates this. The image is incredibly powerful while the call-to-action is clear. In turn, this post was shared more than 1200 times. 


The Takeaway

We know we need to be active and aggressive on-air and online during severe weather situations. The key is providing compelling, informative content that serves our viewers, fans and followers. Incorporating video and strong images with clear messaging helps us achieve that. Want to define more clear, actionable social media strategies for your next severe weather situation? Please contact your SmithGeiger consultant.