I’m in the grocery store with my family on a Saturday afternoon. My wife is asking me what I want on the frozen pizza, but I’m not listening. Instead I’m tapping out a tweet on a severe thunderstorm in the area. I know there is probably someone back at the station on it, and I’m by no means expected to be doing this off the clock, but I’m here in the frozen food isle doing it anyway. I’m hooked on Twitter.
Twitter has become a great tool for keeping viewers (and followers) updated on weather when your typical 6 and 11pm news is not on the air. Even when the power went out on a Dallas evening newscast this week, meteorologist Larry Mowry fired up the Twitter to update what was going on, and to get the weather information out. During severe weather this spring James Spann, the most followed local met on Twitter at over 29,000 followers, became a information hub for broadcasting storm warnings, and receiving damage reports. Twitter is also just as good for getting information as it is to send it out.
The thing that makes Twitter work is that its always on, and that can be both a good and a bad thing for busy broadcast meteorologists. I still have broadcasts that need to get ready for with viewers exponentially higher than my current list of followers (I have about 715). There are also other things I ought be be doing when I’m not at work, but still mashing away on my mobile phone. The fact that Twitter is always live makes it almost feel like its the never-ending newscast. As weather information comes in, I want to make sure it gets out there as quickly as possible.
As I’ve talked about before, future broadcast meteorologists can grab a hold of this technology today. Anyone can start a Twitter account and begin talking about the weather. Its something I recommend to my students. It should be something that you want to do though, not something you feel obligated to. Many Twitter users will tweet like crazy in the first week, only to fry out to zero after that. This thing is a marathon, not a sprint, and if we want to us social media to keep people informed, we need to pace ourselves.
I know there are days when I know I should just let it be. I don’t need to be on all the time. Fortunately, I work in a market with an abundance of great weather tweeters. I encourage you to check out Kerrin Jeromin, Steven Glazier, Tom Messner and Ian Oliver.