Before I get to the reasons why social media marketers need to follow the weather, let me state for the record that this all comes with the caveat that the predicting of weather patterns is not an exact science. I say this having just experienced this inexactness, if you will. A few weeks ago, a mere dusting was predicted for my neck of the woods, Philly, and we ended up getting a near blizzard.
So, with that in mind and with the warning that the weather is quite volatile in nature — literally — here’s why social media marketers need to follow the weather.
It Affects Buying Patterns
The short and simple reason is the most obvious: The weather affects every one of us in one way, shape or form. For example, an article on psychologytoday.com back in July made reference to the fact that the weather plays a role in car and home sales. Sales of convertibles peak as the weather turns warm. And homes with swimming pools sell for more money in the summer than in the winter.
Then there’s the fact that the weather affects our online behavior. In his piece Does Weather Affect Site Traffic & SEM Performance? for Search Engine Land earlier this year, Siddharth Shah wrote: “The effect of weather on sales has been studied in the past. A paper from the Federal Reserve Board of Governors dealt with it at length and had several interesting findings. Most notably, it found that good weather had positive effects on sales for restaurants, durable goods, automotive and apparel, among other sectors.”
The bottom line is the fact that the weather has impact on what people do online — most notably what they do via social media.
As Right As Rain
The title of the post says it all: “Users react twice as often on Facebook posts when it rains.” The post I am referring to is something I read on fanpagekarma.com and the title referred to a study the company had conducted to gauge if there was a correlation between weather and user behavior when it came to social media.
The results were as follows:
- Bad weather always makes the interaction increase – completely independent from the season.
- Fans react, on average, 42% more often when the sun isn’t shining.
- On rainy summer weekends, posts receive nearly twice as many reactions: interaction on posts increases by 90%.
- Even in spring, autumn and winter. a clear difference between sunny and rainy days is noticeable: there are 39% more reactions on average when it’s rainy.
And here’s a handy-dandy infographic they put together to help illustrate their findings including an homage to Bill Withers, whom many of you probably never heard of before but you probably know the song.
So What’s A Social Media Marketer To Do?
Well, first and foremost, this does not mean that every social media marketer needs to enroll in a meteorology class or anything like that — unless, of course, you’re into that sort of thing in which case I say “have at it!”
But short of becoming the next Al Roker, here are some tips for social media marketers as it pertains to the weather.
- Remember your audience. I realize this is obvious or, at the very least, should be but sometimes the obvious gets overlooked. Even if the company/brand you’re working for only has one store in one brick and mortar location in one part of the country or world, that does not mean you do not have social media followers that live elsewhere. So let’s say for example the weather is great around the location of the store/business. You may assume, based on the above findings, that interaction may be down, as folks are out and about and therefore you may not pay as much attention to engagement levels. Well. aside from what we all know about assuming, you need to consider your entire audience as the weather may be drastically different from place to place.
- Use the past as your guide. Go back and look at, say, the last 3 months of your social media metrics, taking note of any notable spikes or decreases in engagement levels. Then go back and do a little research about the weather over those past 3 months and compare and contrast any spikes or declines you saw vs. the weather patterns. If you discover any correlation, it could mean that your social media marketing is affected in one way or another by the weather. Adjust your campaigns accordingly. Test differing posting tactics based on the weather to see if engagement is impacted.
- Sense is best served common. Again, this should be filed in the “obvious” folder, but there are plenty of examples of brands forgetting common sense when it comes to social media marketing during times when the weather was “in play.” Who can forget American Apparel’s attempt at capitalizing on those affected by Hurricane Sandy last year? Now this was not a social media campaign but rather an email one in which they decided to try and capitalize on the fact that so many people were inside during the storm. I wrote about it for a piece for Forbes and, as you can see based on the sampling from the Twitterverse back then, it was not received too kindly in the social media space.
The moral here, of course, is to think before you post. Take off your marketing/ROI hat and just be a person — a human being — and use your common sense and best judgment.
Image used with permission from Shutterstock.com.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.