An inside look at The Weather Channel’s social TV strategy for ‘Coast Guard Florida’

By Natan Edelsburg 

The Weather Channel is no stranger to social TV. Early on the weather-focused TV network inked an unprecedented partnership with Twitter to curate relevant tweets. They also have one of the most popular apps on the App Store and recently revamped their website to bring social even more center stage. As their digital footprint has grown, their original television content has as well. Tonight at 9pm Eastern the network is premiering “Coast Guard Florida,” a follow up to the successful “Coast Guard Alaska”. Florida will “will follow the men and women of the 7th Coast Guard District who are charged with keeping America’s ports secure and waterways safe, stemming the flow of illegal narcotics, securing the southeast border, protecting the environment, enforcing maritime laws and treaties and saving those in peril on the sea.” We spoke with Renee Willet, senior manager of social media marketing for The Weather Channel Companies about their social TV strategy for the big premiere.

Tonight, in honor of the premiere a member of the Coast Guard will be answering questions live on Twitter via @CGFlorida, the show’s account. Questions can be submitted using #CGFlorida, which the Coast Guard member will respond to. The network’s primarily leveraging Twitter, Facebook and GetGlue for the show and using what they learned during Coast Guard Alaska to build and grow the community. Willet also describes how important a partner GetGlue has been for the network. The Weather Channel is in a unique position to produce and offer reality programming that is actually real and not just using a “shore” as a drinking spot.

Lost Remote: How are you using social to launch the new show?
Renee Willet: For us, our most success social resources for new shows are Facebook, Twitter and GetGlue. We have a presence on all three for “Coast Guard Florida” and use each for slightly different purposes.

Facebook – We’ve learned through our work on “Coast Guard Alaska” that the viewing audience for this series is a very real community, made up of retired “Coasties” (members of the US Coast Guard), parents and spouses of current Coasties and folks who are just proud of our Armed Forces. We use Facebook as a way to share photos and information, not just about the shows themselves, but about individual members of the Coast Guard as well as supporting agencies like the Coast Guard Foundation.

Twitter – We use Twitter to remind our audience to tune in to new episodes, as well as check-in to the show on GetGlue. We’ve also experimented with a live-tweet episode. One of the members of the US Coast Guard tweeted facts and tidbits about pieces of the show as it was airing. We plan to test live tweeting out more this season.
In addition, we will be launching a promoted tweet campaign leading up to the “Coast Guard Florida” series premiere on Wednesday, Oct. 10 to help raise awareness that The Weather Channel has original programming.

GetGlue – GetGlue has been an incredible partner for us. In fact, “Coast Guard Alaska” was the first program of ours that we used GetGlue to promote. Our goal with GetGlue is to help raise awareness that The Weather Channel has original programming. We will offer several stickers for this season, including a “Coming Soon” sticker and a premiere sticker.

LR: Is it difficult talking to an audience about TV shows that might be used to only getting weather news?
Willet: Yes, that’s been a challenge. For 30 years, viewers knew The Weather Channel as a weather-only network, whose programming meant a meteorologist standing in front of a map. The introduction of original programs to the network was a departure for our audience, which we knew would take time to adjust to. We’ve been sure to let fans know that our commitment to prepare them and keep them safe during severe weather has not waivered, but there’s also the opportunity for us to showcase the many sides of Mother Nature and her impacts in a more entertaining way. We’re starting to see that they are slowly starting to embrace it. And once they discover each of these series, we have seen a passionate and dedicated following build for each of our shows, so we just want to continue to create awareness for these series and help people find them.

LR: Are the stars of the show involved on social at all?
Willet: On some of the series, we definitely see people on the show participate, particularly on Facebook. In the case of our Coast Guard franchise, star involvement is limited due to the nature of their jobs. However, we have had members of the Coast Guard tweet and participate in live chats for us, but they are not part of the show.