When it comes to social media, our standards are set pretty high up there. It takes a team of people to make us stop, click, laugh, or ponder when seeing a social media post. One could say, if you want to rule the Earthlings – you’d need a nebula sized idea to make your social media do just that. So, where can we, simple marketers, draw inspiration? In a galaxy close, close to us (as opposed to far, far away): NASA!
Why is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) so inspiring? Well, to start us off, they have no budget. You read that right, except for the salaries of the social media team, there is no flow of funds dedicated to sending any social media campaigns on a mission into the Internet-sphere. (See what I did there?)
Secondly, NASA made it their turf to educate in a manner that’s interesting to everyone. It’s interesting to see a government agency use hashtags, knowledge, appealing photos/videos, AND celebrities to reach the masses so eloquently. There are numerous organizations like the the European Space Agency (ESA), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Roscosmos, and 65+ more agencies around the world, but for the sake of time and space – we’ll focus on the social media genius of NASA.
Making history by making education fun
“Contact Light” – The actual first words on the moon.
Buzz Aldrin on 20 July 1969.
With an average of 1.18 billion daily active users, Facebook has a galaxy of its own. Over 430,000 of those users talk about NASA throughout the week:
What’s amazing about NASA’s Facebook page is that it doesn’t use any special tactics, but it does keep up with different marketing trends like reactive marketing (yes, yes, 2016’s buzz word). The great thing about NASA is that it’s in the business of exploring the far, far away galaxies. This year alone NASA used galaxies, exoplanets, and space exploration to use the film industry to its advantage.
Live long and prosper
The original Star Trek series ran from 1966 to 1969 which were also critical years for NASA. We tend to think of living long and prospering in a very simple way (eat, pray, love) but NASA truly aims to take us out to the outer edge to discover what is out in the vast vacuum of space, while educating us along the way:
NASA (ESA, astronauts, and more) made the #StarTrek50 anniversary truly special in a very simple and educational way:
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) September 8, 2016
— NASA (@NASA) September 8, 2016
— NASA History Office (@NASAhistory) September 8, 2016
Can you feel the force?
Continuing our fascination with space, 1977 began the saga of the greatest film series known to every man, woman, child, and droid. Ok, I might be a bit biased about the greatness of Star Wars, but it did become a phenomenon that we continued in 2016 with the premiere of Rogue One and the filming of Episode VIII and Episode IX.
As part of reactive marketing, NASA used their platform to recognize days like Star Wars Day. NASA created special shareable images (that you can find on their website under this link) that celebrated May 4th, but also gave you some knowledge, AND connected you with different NASA astronauts or agency stations:
— NASA (@NASA) May 4, 2015
— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) May 4, 2015
What’s more, NASA used this day and its platform to celebrate Women of NASA. In 2014, NASA delighted us in a co-op with Lucasfilms by getting R2D2 to help share a message from space:
It was a great marketing stunt for both parties, as The Force Awakens promos started to leak that same year.
How did the NASA space experts weigh in the release of Rogue One and Episode VII: The Force Awakens?
Spreading some smarts and giving us A New Hope that we might get to visit Tatooine or Naboo? Why not! There are also great opportunities to trend your tweets using the special emoji hashtags:
— NASA Planetquest (@PlanetQuest) December 16, 2016
— NASA Planetquest (@PlanetQuest) December 16, 2016
— NASA (@NASA) December 16, 2016
2. Connecting us to the solar system
“I feel fine. How about you?” on how he was doing, while flying the first manned space mission.
Yuri Gagarin on 12 April 1961
More and more brands and businesses are creating separate Twitter or Facebook fan page accounts for specific products that they offer. It does save time when you have a question about not the whole, but a specific part of a business.
NASA took your regular separate accounts idea and made it better than we ever could. One of the best examples of that is the Mars Curiosity rover:
— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) December 21, 2016
— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) September 9, 2016
What’s not to love about a Mars Rover that has a personality? He shares his joy in finding new things during his “road trip”, talks about being inspired by other rovers or satellites, and when the holidays roll in and he’s sad – he gets by with the help of numerous tweeters that send him joyous and festive GIF’s to make Mars feel less lonely.
But it doesn’t stop there! Follow Juno:
— NASA's Juno Mission (@NASAJuno) October 31, 2016
Spirit, Oppy and The Oddysey:
— Spirit and Oppy (@MarsRovers) April 7, 2016
— NASA Voyager (@NASAVoyager) July 5, 2016
— CassiniSaturn (@CassiniSaturn) December 25, 2016
Basically, you get to meet, see in action, and even look at the ever-changing location status of stations, rovers, probes, and whoever is out there changing how we look at planets. Isn’t that neat? The best part is how personal and sometimes just plain old funny or sensitive each one of these space avengers is.
Kudos to the NASA social media team for making us have all these feelings for these metal friends. It’s like having a C3PO flying out there and tweeting at us!
Resistance is futile
NASA has got what it takes to make it work. Not all of us have a space bound business and not all of our customers will be charmed by Jedi mind tricks (although Wickes did win the internet with “How to build a Death Star” and their INCREDIBLE social media communication team’s Facebook post responses).
However, we can all learn how to reach people by being approachable, up to date with the latest in entertainment, or even with the different special holidays like Star Wars Day or… Pancake Day! Creativity trumps big budgets – NASA proves that. Is there anything that inspires you most in NASA’s galactic social media? Maybe you’d like to see a part II of inspiring NASA social media campaigns? Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time. May the force be with you.