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How News Orgs Can Make Weather Interesting on Social Media

Weather forecasts can’t possibly be funny, right? But Digital Communities Manager at the Dallas Morning News, Michael Landauer, has made the impossible possible in his hilarious daily weather Facebook posts.

Poynter has been giving Landauer’s postings some love over the last week, but as I’m a Dallas native and follow the comical newspaperman on Facebook (he was my editor back in the day, when I wrote for the DMN as a Student Voice), I’ve been noticing Landauer’s unique take on weather for several weeks now. Another disclosure before we go further: I write for the DMN-owned content agency Speakeasy doing sponsored editorial, though that has nothing to do with the News‘ general Facebook presence.

Back to the weather. I read these posts each morning as I scroll through my Facebook feed in bed. Here are a few of Landauer’s most inspired works:

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Subtle yet informative and funny. What makes it more delightful is that it’s being posted from the paper’s official Facebook page rather than being attributed to an individual reporter or columnist. Over time, I’ve noted more and more followers liking, commenting on and sharing Landauer’s weather posts. And, what he’s done right is responding to the comments. Of course, even a social media editor doesn’t have time to engage every single commenter, but Landauer has made a strong effort to respond to a respectable amount of followers, under The Dallas Morning News account. It makes the whole exchange feel more personal, Landauer told Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon.

I imagine these will get more colorful as spring turns to summer, and 105-degree heat is the norm from July to September. But Landauer’s experimentation with Facebook humor applied to an already fairly light topic (unless dangerous conditions are due, in which case the paper must remain professional and sensitive, Beaujon mentioned) shows that there can be a place for funny in the newsroom’s various platforms. Social just creates these kinds of possibilities.

The News¬†also got creative with a weather post on Instagram last November for the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination:

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The Washington Post‘s Capital Weather team has its reporters write weather posts with personality, too; only difference is they usually sign their names or initials.

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There are dozens of publications tasking their in-house amateur comedians with writing informal yet informative posts on social media. I think the lesson here is to take every opportunity you have on your platforms to engage your audience. Like Mom said, acknowledge there’s a time to be serious and a time to goof off. There’s no need for temperatures and wind directions to be stiffer than they inherently are, so have some fun with it. The same goes for promotion of feature-y stories and weird crime pieces. Give your readers another reason to seek out information from you through good-natured wit (not to be confused with mean-spirited sarcasm).

In the end, if you’re more interesting than the other paper/magazine in town, you’ve gained a loyal fan, social media sharer and possibly a subscriber, which means you’ve won.

What are your favorite publications to follow on social media? Who does a good job at implementing humor into otherwise mundane news topics?

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