During this recent bout of snow in the UK, my news team in Newcastle has created its most successful hashtag yet. The journalists have encouraged listeners to tweet their own snow reports using #metrosnow Its resulted in hundreds of pieces of information and pictures each day.
Using the hashtag pulls together all these tweets, some of which are sent to presenters, the station, the news team and sometimes to no one in particular. The listener herself is also able to search #metrosnow for herself and get an instant snapshot of the current weather in the region.
There have been some questions tweeted and the team strives to respond or re-tweet hoping someone else has an answer. This element of using social media is vital, for it is truly social. Journalists, presenters or producers must take time to read the tweets, or Facebook comments, and respond as best they can. This will be limited by the numbers of comments and time but the intent should remain the same.
I tweeted a radio station to ask how the weather was in a particular city. I didn’t get a reply and I am discouraged from tweeting again.
For me, there are three simple steps to a successful social media connection and they are:
A short acknowledgement, a thank you for example, will make many listeners happy or even an endorsed re-tweet.
Bad weather makes social media invaluable to journalists and programme makers but it also means we have to work even harder to respond to our audience’s needs.