The Weather Channel is turning Twitter users into field reporters, ready to be put into the spotlight and featured on air whenever severe weather strikes: Viewers’ tweeted comments about the weather in their communities could soon be on TV, as The Weather Channel and Twitter announced a deep integration of tweets in the network’s on-air programming, its website and its mobile platform on 8/11.
The Weather Channel Social, as the collaboration is officially called, brings weather-related tweets to the airwaves as well as to Weather.com and the Weather Channel iPhone app. The Weather Channel is also launching 220 custom local Twitter feeds to update Twitter users about their city’s weather forecast.
TWC worked with sponsor Citi and its digital agency Razorfish to create the social integration to encourage consumer conversation about local and national weather and relevant events. Citi will feature messaging in placements across TWC properties – on television, online, on mobile and throughout TWC Social pages. TWC network will include on-air mentions and “Tweets of the day” around Social content.
On TWCC’s iPhone app, real-time Tweets will be featured on every local forecast page. A local Social page with a complete feed of real-time Tweets and the ability to directly participate in the conversation will also be available.
Tweets displayed on TWC properties will be filtered to delete any swearing or unsuitable content. They will also only display content relevant to the location of a particular weather forecast. On an average day, Twitter sees about 200 tweets per minute just about the weather. If it gets a little hotter or colder than usual, that rate raises to about 300 to 500 tweets per minute. And when it rains really hard, it also pours tweets: “Significant weather events” can provoke up to two million tweets per day, according to Twitter.
One of the biggest challenges of the integration, noted GigaOM, was to separate weather-related tweets from observations about all the other things that can be hot, cool and foggy in this world. So TWC is using technology provided by the New York-based real time data specialists from Wiredset, which also runs Trendrr.com, to discriminate. The Weather Channel is also relying on Twitter profiles and location information within the actual text of each tweet, rather than geotagged data.
RBR-TVBR observation: It should be interesting to see how the move affects ratings. When word spreads about the Twitter integration, there may be a segment of Twitter users that will vie for “getting on the air” with their message. How else will they know if their message made it other than turning on TWC locally or telling others to do so? Also, there’s nothing like getting millions of free on-site reporters for your network. But beware, there will be gaffes.