Sam Champion v Jerry Taft [Celeb Tweet-Off Round 3]

CHAMPION_SC10One is a fair-haired, big-market meteorologist with a million watt smile, an impossibly convenient name and a strong following on Twitter.  The other is Sam Champion.  Sam - I kid because I love.

Seriously though, there are two very well-know weatherman making their mark onJerrytaft_140 Twitter these days.  Jerry Taft has been delivering the weather [not an easy job in a town like mine] to Chicagoans for many decades on ABC-7.  He's a Chicago institution.  Sam Champion is the weather anchor of ABC's "Good Morning America," and before that on the local ABC affiliate.  Like Jerry, everyone knows Sam Champion.

Somewhat in the spirit of my previous posts comparing celebrity Twitterers [Shaq v Armstrong and Questo v Q-Tip] I wanted to briefly look at how each man uses Twitter.

I turned to New Yorker Alan Wolk, he of Toad Stool and on Twitter @awolk, for a brief write up on @SamChampion.  I handled duties for @JerryTaft.

@SamChampion [by Alan]
Sam Champion, the relatively ageless local weatherman here in NYC who is now featured on Good Morning America. Champion is in an odd position on Twitter because while he’s famous enough to be regarded as a “celebrity,” he’s not quite famous enough to be considered out of reach, the way say Shaq or Britney Spears are.

That means fans expect a response from him.

He’s got 8,000 followers as of this point and seems to do a good job of engaging them in both life events and weather events. Champion’s tweeting is well-thought out in that he looks for topics that both create conversation and make him accessible. So a recent live volley during “Dancing With The Stars”  lets him interact with fans in a way that makes him seem like one of the gang. And to his credit, he’s very good about interacting with fans—both about weather issues and general thoughts: most of Champions tweets are @ messages that are clearly part of a longer conversation.

I also give Champion points for integrating weather tweets into his stream in a way that doesn’t seem forced. Part of that is due to his fan base: they talk to him about the effects of the weather on their lives and he responds in kind.

For a media figure like Champion, Twitter is a way to connect with fans and create a persona that’s more fleshed out than what viewers see during the weather report. He’s doing a great job on that front, which is why I give his effort a thumbs up.

@JerryTaft [by me]
Let's get some stats out of the way:

  • Nearly 2,500 follow Jerry, and he follows back nearly 2,400.  A very good ratio compared to other public figures.  He's just as interested in what others are saying, as they are in him.
  • His % of @ replies and his # of re-Tweets demonstrates he gets that Twitter is a conversation medium, not a broadcast [well it's actually a pretty good broadcast medium too, in my opinion]
  • He is active [very], updating on the go, from the studio [he's often uses TwitPic] and at home. Jerry is a power user.

Statistics aside what I think makes Jerry such an interesting Twitter personality is his accessibility, sense of humor and honesty.  Snicker if you want, but I'm telling you this guy is a Chicago institution - he has no incremental fame to gain at this point.

When I started writing this post I asked other Twitter users for thoughts on Jerry.  This reply struck me ...

Picture 2

The link above was to the pic below - I believe that's Jerry at a TweetUp.  At a stage in his career where he could phone it in with his fans, Jerry has successfully used Twitter to forge real connections. Politicians and consumer brands alike could learn a thing or two just by watching.

Jerry Taft People Person

Finally, like Alan points out with Sam Champion, Jerry hasn't forgotten what made him a public figure in the first place.  Weaved in with all his personal updates, you can always count on Jerry to give an update on flooding, high winds and snow accumulation - or even just a reminder to bring an umbrella that day.

And finally, two more facts that have nothing to do with Twitter but make Jerry awesome:
    •    He's a Wisconsin Badger (as am I)
    •    He's ex USAF, where I believe he was a pilot and instructor