How do meteorologists maximize social media in their work? Global Voices posed this question to Fiji Meteorological Service (FMS) to learn more about how they are using social media to share information about weather and climate science in the South Pacific nation.
FMS has accounts on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, where he has more than 131,000 followers. FMS Media Liaison Ana Degei told Global Voices in an email that the service “would like to continue working to increase the numbers so that we can at least reach all social media users in the population. of Fiji”. The population of Fiji is 902,224, according to United Nations data.
FMS recognizes the value of using platforms like Facebook to fulfill its mission:
The Fiji Meteorological Service recognizes that social media is a very useful tool not only to inform our public, but it can also be used as a feedback mechanism that allows us, as essential service providers, to assess what works and what doesn’t and the exact needs. of our customers, through their comments and messages.
We not only use social media to inform our users about weather and climate forecasts or impending severe weather events, but we also use it to raise awareness about the work we do, the technical and scientific aspects behind it. , as well as the brilliant people working quietly behind the scenes.
Indeed, FMS Facebook and Twitter posts are not just weather reports, they also highlight agency activities, such as training workshops, water level monitoring and daily forecast sessions. . They recently honored journalists on World Press Freedom Day by recognizing them as community partners in informing the public about the work of FMS:
📸World Press Freedom Day 2022
In honour of #WorldPressFreedomDaywe would like to thank all journalists and newsrooms who support the work of the Fiji Meteorological Service.
Communication helps. Happy World Press Freedom Day journalists! pic.twitter.com/xRbb7sVw97
— Fiji Meteorological Service (@FJMETservice) May 3, 2022
FMS also recognized the contribution of its female meteorologists on International Women’s Day:
So #JIF2022the @FJMETservice would like to acknowledge the tremendous efforts and tireless contributions of our women officers in providing meteorological and hydrological information to the people of Fiji and the region.
— Fiji Meteorological Service (@FJMETservice) March 8, 2022
Asked about some of the lessons they learned from using social media, Ana Degei highlighted the importance of engagement:
The best feature or value of social media is engagement. If you distribute information via social media, you will know if people read it or not, if they use it or not or if they are not interested at all.
She explained why accuracy and clarity are important for weather agencies promoting content via social media:
When you release an update, keep it as non-technical as possible. Keep it short and simple.
Accuracy and timeliness of postings are very important, especially when using social media to inform the public about extreme weather and climate events. A life could depend on it or a livelihood could depend on it.
An example of content aimed at educating the public about climate science is an FMS Facebook post about weather balloons. The message, widely circulated in Fiji, was written in simple language that was easily understood by ordinary people. Here is an excerpt from the message:
Did you know that Fiji Met. release a weather balloon twice a day?
Twice a day, every day of the year, the Fiji Meteorological Service releases a weather balloon at 11am and 11pm.
Hot air balloon flights last approximately 1.5 to 2 hours and can soar up to 100,000 feet (about 32 kilometers) into the atmosphere!
Weather balloons are the main source of data above ground. They provide valuable data for computer forecasting models, local data for meteorologists to make forecasts, and data for research.
Finally, we asked FMS how Internet users could help them in carrying out their work.
To provide feedback to the Fiji Meteorological Service, they could be our eyes and ears on the ground.
Take appropriate action with the warning messages they receive from the Fiji Meteorological Service and help others do the same.