There Is No Normal

I got an email from TheSocReports this morning. Now, this is not a take-down of the service. Do you homework and decide on your own. (Full-disclosure, TheSocReports was an advertiser on WeatherBrains. I have received no money from TheSocReports, or WeatherBrains for that matter.)

Here is the note:

A few days ago, we got more snow than normal in Chicago.

Not that snow in March is ever a huge surprise, but I happened to be expecting a rare visit from my nephew (who was driving from Alabama), and I got up that morning, anxious to see the latest forecast.

So I flipped on the TV to find the Weather Channel.

I went up and down the cable and tried to find it – couldn’t. Called my husband, he couldn’t. At the moment, I was really wanting one of those ‘Siri like’ remote controls.

But in the process of trying to find the road conditions between here and Kentucky, I discovered something really interesting.

One of those info-tainment shows called “Cindy Crawford’s Skin Secrets” was playing on not one – but at least five (maybe more) channels on the cable SIMULTANEOUSLY. (She sells this supermodel serum that is supposed to help you look younger.) I have to confess that I paused for awhile to watch.

I finally found TWC after consulting the cable guide as last resort, but the idea of some marketing genius deciding that Cindy Crawford’s beauty products show should run on multiple channels AT ONCE made me think.

It’s a lot like what I’m constantly preaching about social media. You need reps, you need more ‘at bats’ than the other guys to break through the noise.

Yes, the very first step to becoming a force in social media showing up actively. It’s what our clients at TheSocReports know all too well.

If you or someone you coach relies on social media, I encourage you to check out TheSocReports https://www.thesocreports.com/

We collect data on YOUR social media activity to show you how to become the Cindy Crawford of your profession.

It’s frankly not for everyone – but we offer a trial so you can find out.

When you’re ready, go here:

https://www.thesocreports.com/pricing

Carol Fowler

“At bats” doesn’t scale on a global platform where anyone and everyone is looking for your attention. I’m just about finished with The Attention MerchantsGo get it and you will be blown away at the history and and evolution of advertising and “attention harvesting”. Author Tim Wu shows that mass attention harvesting ALWAYS leads to a race to the bottom. EVERYONE wants your eyeballs.

More “reps” is going to lead to more useless posts with temperature maps and automated sunset time tweets and you will continue to teach the people who have chosen to give you their valuable attention to ignore you.

Seth Godin writes:

In fact, human behavior tells us that this is a more permanent effect than we realize. Once you overload the user, you train them not to pay attention. More clutter isn’t free. In fact, more clutter is a permanent shift, a desensitization to all the information, not just the last bit.

Every person on social media is now a marketer and they have access to the same platform as you. Facebook is not going to prioritize your post over the online shoe retailer (unless you pay them), and they are not going to prioritize your temperature map because you post it twice an hour instead of once. Facebook has the smartest data scientists in the world, they know when you are spamming.

The value proposition pitched by TheSocReport when I tested the service last year was that hiring managers are going to look at your social activity. Okay, interesting point. But does it bother you that your value is being determined by how frequently you annoy people?

Quality wins. You know that already by seeing your analytics. Yes, I know the picture of your cat does better than the Red Flag Warning graphic, there is some value in the entertainment but weather information is time-sensitive.

Final point, and I think it is an important one. Carol never indicated that she once went to social media looking for information about her nephew.

 

(The title of this post, There Is No Normal is a hot-button. There is no normal snow in Chicago in March. If it snowed 20 inches in 15 of the 30 year period and 10 inches in the other 15 year the “normal” would be reported at 15 inches, but it never snowed 15 inches!)

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Riding Down The Golden Escalator

Some years ago I read “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. One of the things I remember often from the book is the author’s tale of finally hitting bottom and saying, “when things get to a point where you just can’t stand them anymore, you do something.”

The American Meteorological Society has apparently hit a similar point on “social mediarology” and put out an excellent document of best practices. Authored by very smart people, including Digital Meteorologist contributor, the legendary Nate Johnson, the well thought out piece hits a fatal flaw at the very beginning of the guidelines, through no fault of its own.

time

Thanks to the Facebook News Feed algorithm posts are “leaked” out to users over a period of minutes, hours and days and our data is the definition of time-sensitive.

At the dawn of cable TV would stations have accepted terms that said the cable system would only distribute newscasts to 2-3% of subscribers (the percentage of page followers Facebook allows to see your post)? If weathercasts, with time-sensitive information we uploaded through a satellite provider only 6-12 hours after a broadcast, would that be a public service?

Facebook recently hired former broadcast journalist Campbell Brown to be Head of News Partnerships. Ms. Brown is excited to, “be working directly with our partners to help them understand how Facebook can expand the reach of their journalism.” Time will tell if Facebook will be “listening” or “telling”. Odds are they will be telling us how we can fit into their restrictive model. They haven’t listened so far, I’ve asked.

The parallels to politics are stunning. For all the varied reasons Donald Trump won the White House the base reason is that enough people had decided they just couldn’t stand the current system anymore. Former president Barak Obama said one of his greatest regrets looking back on eight years in the White House was that the partisan deadlock might have only gotten worse. Time will tell but it would sure be nice if he had actually gotten to the point where he couldn’t stand it anymore.

Go read the AMS document, it is worthwhile. Then consider the time-sensitive information you post on social media.

I’m mulling over a ride down the golden escalator with an announcement.

wx-great-hat

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Cold Tacos

taco

My family ate lunch at Taco Casa on Thursday. Truth be told, this sign thermometer has a history of trouble with temperature extremes, but it is always good for a laugh on TV and social media.

An important reminder happened this time around. I posted this on Facebook as we had lunch on Thursday. Many likes and comments followed through the day and into the next. On Friday at lunch I was in a committee meeting for a local event. One of the committee members came to me, laughing heartily, and said, “Your picture of the Taco Casa from this morning was so funny!” Note the words “this morning”.

The reminder is that Facebook leaks your time sensitive weather information to friends and followers over a number of hours and days after the post. Plenty of time for those 491 degree tacos to become pretty cold.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mystery Weatherman

I was lucky to participate in “Where is the Weatherman (woman)” this morning.

wxclass

Keena Crenshaw is a teacher in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Her class called me on Skype this morning and had to determine where in the country I was based on yes or no weather questions. They began with time zone and moved through questions about preciptation, cloud cover, lightning, wind speed and temperature.

Ms. Crenshaw reached out to Ryan Vaughan at KAIT-TV who put her in touch with TV weather folks across the country. I’ve already heard from Ms. Crenshaw who said the kids had a blast and were already asking if they could find another weatherman.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lessons From Politics

art

This is a Facebook invitation from a local artist. Really nice, colorful, engaging work. I’ll probably stop by.

Check the orange arrow.

The event is Saturday evening and as I write this early Thursday morning the forecast is accurate. The event and task specific nature of the forecast is brilliant and didn’t happen on a whim. This is the work of long-range planning by The Weather Channel and now IBM and they aren’t fooling around.

We can all learn from the analysis, hand-wringing and soul searching we’ve seen after the tumultuous political season. The base reason it happened was that a large enough number of people were fed up with the system.

The humans are still the best hyper-local weather source but we will lose if the system given us by the establishment in Washington (read as broadcast owners) is automation, poor mobile experiences and social media.

Can we get this trending? #makeweathergreatagain

wx-great-hat

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We’re the Canaries

I thought it was clever on election night when I started seeing a few tweets go by directed at political forecasters saying, “Not so easy, is it?” (canary in a coal mine)

Then came a steady stream of stories about Facebook’s influence on the election, and we said, “Welcome to the party, you’re late.”

fakewinter

Certainly we’ve all seen this graphic by now, year after year. It, and its cousins, spread through social media about this time of year and we spend time swatting down the rumors.

Facebook says that fake news is not as big a problem as some suggest. Further suggesting it does not have enough influence to change an election. That said, Facebook (and Google) have responded quickly to the election influence firestorm.

Anil Dash brilliantly tweeted a response to the question of influence.

We talked recently on WeatherBrains about how difficult it is to “filter” a open global platform. Once you make an accommodation for one group you then are called to do it for all and that doesn’t scale.

There has been some suggestion in what I have read that Facebook has been working on fixing the spread of fake news since before the election. Wonder if they had been watching the weather?

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Tick, tick, tick, tick…

facebookfullweather

I’ve seen small weather updates at the top of my Facebook feed for some time now but this is new. It popped up on top of my feed on Sunday night. Particularly interested in the “See more weather info” at the bottom. I didn’t click on it but I do wonder what was there and now it is gone. Will there be a “Get Weather Forecast” link permanently soon? Seems logical. Dropping a forecast in my feed at random intervals is okay, I guess. Will I be able to get a forecast on demand soon? I haven’t seen that button. Have you?

A couple of years ago I had a chance to visit with Vic Gundota who is the person responsible for Google+. I was ready to tell him that all we needed was a few adjustments and weather information would rocket Google+ to new heights. What I learned was how difficult it is for a global platform to make any accommodation to one special interest group because every other group would then get in line and that can’t scale. Makes sense, and yet, there is the weather on top of my feed.

I joined a Facebook Group the other day called, News, Media & Publishing on Facebook:

News, Media & Publishing on Facebook! This is where the Facebook News Partnerships team shares Facebook Media product updates, and hosts discussions about strategies for news organizations.

News Partnership team sounds pretty good. I posted a comment on a recent post about news coverage. I introduced myself, was upfront about being a vocal Facebook critic, and asked about research or information specific to weather. The admin who made the post “liked” my comment but made no reply. I posted again a day or two later. No reply. I sent a friend request to the admin. Still waiting.

The top of the image above says, “What’s on your mind?” Here it is. The Internet eats middlemen and we are in the middle. The clock is ticking and we had better get creative…fast.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments