For social media managers, trust is the holy grail. You would think making people trust you on social media would come naturally. For many people and brands, it’s not quite that simple. Experts publish blogs about achieving trust; speakers who have it figured out get paid to talk about their tactics at conferences. As I wrote earlier, there have even been formulas created to make sense of what exactly makes people trust other people and brands on social media.
But some people just make it look easy. One such person/brand is Birmingham area meteorologist James Spann. Spann has garnered more than 143,000 followers on Twitter and more than 141,000 followers on Facebook. According to his Facebook About section, he’s been a meteorologist at ABC 33/40 since 1996. His experience plus the almost 20 years he’s been at one channel certainly adds to his credibility on social media, but there’s more to it than that.
Spann has branded himself as the go-to guy for severe weather, especially tornadoes, which are prevalent in Alabama and the Birmingham area. On air and on social media, he doesn’t talk only about the path of storms or wind speeds or other things that weather guys are trained to discuss. He gives people tips for staying safe when storms pass through their areas. And he even helps people make sense of the maps on screen by pointing out specific landmarks instead of using terms for a broader area — “The tornado is headed toward the Hoover Target on 150, so everyone in the Tyler Crest subdivision nearby, you need to get in your safe place now!” (That’s not a direct quote, and a tornado hasn’t toppled that Target — just an example of how specific Spann is.)
He tweets and shares these very specific and clearly worded warnings and updates and tips, which is incredibly helpful to his followers in areas affected by storms, but he takes it a step further than just being an expert in his field. Spann is one of the most interactive accounts I follow. I’m not quite sure how he got to the point that witnesses and photographers of weather almost automatically send him their details and photos, but that’s what happens. If you spot a tornado in the Birmingham area, you snap a photo and tweet it to Spann; that’s just what you do. And you can almost be guaranteed to receive a reply, favorite or retweet from the area’s favorite weatherman.
Going back to the idea of the trust formula (Authority x Helpfulness x Intimacy / Self Promotion), Spann hits all three of the positives, with very little self promotion (and even when he is promoting ABC 33/40’s weather coverage, it’s worded in a way that shows concern for his followers, not the number of page views or TV viewers).
Alabama folks: What else makes you trust James Spann on social media?
Outside-of-Alabama folks: Have you ever heard of our favorite weather man?