Facebook is About to Eat Your Weather Lunch

By Steve Schwaid, CJ&N VP of Digital Strategies

This time Facebook is going after weather — local weather, one of a station’s primary content drivers.

Jimmy Kimmel may have said it best when talking about his reaction to watching reporters putting themselves In the middle of severe weather:

“We don’t pay much attention to them anymore because we now get the weather on our phones. We don’t have to wait till the news comes on, it’s already in our pants. So as a result, weather is totally unnecessary on television now. You might as well be announcing what time it is. Instead of a map, you might as well put a big clock up on the wall and say, ‘Hey, it’s 8:14. In about 16 minutes, we’re looking at a chance of 8:30.’” — JIMMY KIMMEL

He’s talking about that local weather app you actively promote with heavy grp rotations. The one you talk about on-air and hope is on the phone in the users’ pockets.  

Unless you make some drastic content changes, you might want to think about giving it up.

Facebook is now in the weather business. Big time. And as almost everything else it touches, it may soon own the local weather app space. (This is in addition to weather products already available on Facebook.)  

Facebook now automatically puts in my news feed the weather where I am, along with the extended forecast. A few weeks ago, Facebook offered me its new weather product. And like other weather apps, it follows me and allows me to set multiple locations. So now when I check Facebook, I always have the temp, the short range and 7-day forecast. It’s another step by Facebook to make its product one-stop content shopping –the social media/news version of product shopping Amazon. Do it all, get it all on one site.

Check this out:

So on my newsfeed every morning and during certain day parts I get this post ….

 

 

And when I open it I get all the details.

 

 But wait, there’s more.

Facebook is now offering me severe weather alerts. Again, weather content in the most sought after content in your markets and Facebook wants that space.

How do you combat this?

So, if the weather content I can get in my Facebook feed is similar to a local station app, why would I use your app? Facebook can give me everything in one place: News, sports, what my friends are talking about and local weather.

Stations need to step up and create local weather app content beyond the automated feed you get from your vendor.

During the recent hurricanes, I monitored several station weather apps. Very few added any local content such as evacuation sites, emergency numbers and power outage info. In most cases, these details were only on the station’s NEWS app.

Consider adding weekend events and forecasts for the events. Create content users are seeking. (We can help you identify that.)

Also, there is something you can do to help drive usage to your apps and broadcast viewing. Use push alerts!  Be aggressive in this space. We have seen clear evidence users want them and they act on them.

Here are two good examples.

The first is a daily push by a station with basic weather info and a push to open the app and watch TV.

The second is a reminder that even if you lose power and cable during a storm, you can still stream the coverage.

For years viewers turned to stations for weather. Now they go online. Stations have tried to combat this with local weather apps. But our research shows TV stations own a very small portion of the user weather app space. Less than 20% of digital users have a local station app on their devices. With Facebook throwing its weight around it may become a much smaller number unless stations really step it up.

Is your station going to fight back or surrender another segment of your market to Facebook?

sschwaid@cjni.com

 

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