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Not really weather

It's not strictly weather but social media engagement about events such as meteor showers, the Northern Lights and festivals reaches out to entirely new audiences.

Traditionally, weather is the main reason people engage with the Met Office, check our website or social media channels. However, we are constantly looking at online social events and trends to think of how the Met Office can engage more fully with people.

As Simon Swan, Met Office Head of Digital Marketing puts it: "We know that lots of people engage with the Met Office through our range of platforms including desktop, mobile, and social, but we are looking at how we can attract more people and create points of interest."

Identifying gaps, analysing key search terms that people use to look for things on the internet and optimising content so it can be easily found is all part of the process of creating content. So far there have been lots of examples of the Met Office creating content on non-weather topics including Wimbledon, the Perseid meteor shower and the partial solar eclipse.

The challenge is understanding the best way of communicating this content, and choosing the most appropriate digital channel, to help us drive our reach and engagement targets.

Analysing trends

Anna Slingo, Social Media Manager explains: "Working together with the Digital and Content teams we share ideas on content and how to create and share it. Sometimes ideas stem from existing media trends and sometimes from new ideas from within the team."

Something must be working as Anna has recently been shortlisted for a Young Digital Leader of the Year award in the Social Media category. Jack Richardson, Senior Digital Communications Executive, has also been shortlisted in the Digital Marketing category. The Met Office has also been shortlisted for two awards at the UK Social Media Communications Awards; Best Use Of Social Media in a Crisis and Best In House Team.

Shareable content

The Met Office Digital and Content teams create a range of shareable content in the form of graphics and teasers. The most successful non-severe weather campaign to date was the Facebook post around the partial solar eclipse which had 8,000 shares - more than the announcement about the headlining act at Glastonbury on Facebook.

Ultimately, through multiple shares, the partial solar eclipse Facebook post went viral, reaching over half a million people. The campaign actually had higher levels of engagement across all social media platforms than any of our severe weather warning campaigns - including the rare red warnings.

Another example of 'not just weather' content and engaging with new audiences is the recent 'Name our storms' crowdsourcing project with Met √Čireann which invited the public to name storms that are expected to affect the UK and Ireland. We used social media to gather names for inclusion in the list.

People suggested names in a variety of ways including tweeting @metoffice using #nameourstorms or providing suggestions through the Met Office Facebook pages. This was the organic top trend for a day on twitter and also engaged with a diverse range of brands including Jack Wills and Paddington Bear.

Creating engaging content around topics related to weather is important. As Anna explains, "Engaging content not only means that the Met Office is reaching new audiences; it also reinforces the Met Office's position at the centre of online conversations around all things weather."