Content Rocket Fuel: How NASA Thinks About Social

by Jameson Brown on Oct 21, 2013

NASA socialWe have been desensitized as Community Managers and Strategists — we easily get into the rhythm of doing the same thing every day.

Yes, we need checklists, but we also need to inject diversity into the content of those repeatable checklists. Letting the content get stale is very easy.

The structure around the process should be consistent, but content should always be diverse, yet applicable.

Hard? Very.

Worth the time? Of course.

NASA’s social media is a great example of how to expand your thinking in terms of content. I’m not asking you to stop using checklists, but I am asking you to bend the wireframe.

Below are three observations from NASA that can help your day-to-day content strategy take off.

1.  Structure

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NASA’s social structure is run “with precision and a willingness to explore” (how about that play on words, eh?).

For example, NASA’s Deputy Social Media Manager, Jason Townsend (@jtowns), manages multiple social communities with content that promotes NASA, but still engages the audience.

NASA puts a heavy importance on engaging with their community around their core [social] mission: to let their audience share the experience of exploration with them. They accomplish their high level of engagement with:

  • eye-popping visuals on a daily basis
  • live streams
  • humor
  • interactivity
  • trivia
  • Unique NASA news updates
  • and more…

The structure around their content strategy is consistent, but the content within that structure changes every day. Again, don’t break the checklist, bend the wireframe.

2. Integration

This, to me, is the most important point we can learn from NASA. They have successfully integrated social media into every aspect of what they do.

It has become a genuine supporter of their overarching goals. Full integration allows the audience to connect immediately and become engaged.

For example, I snapped the above picture in the post-Antares launch press conference where executive management teams were taking live questions via Twitter using the #askNASA.

Both executives from NASA and Orbital Sciences, the Antares masterminds, were taking these questions in real time with genuine answers. Again, full integration is vital to enabling social to highlight and successfully promote parts of your organization and brand.

This also allows your audience to understand that there are multiple channels for communication.

3. Involvement

Finally, the involvement.

Brand ambassadors are vital to any brand or organization.

NASA showed me that they are the absolute masters at this with their #NASAsocial program. NASA Social selects influencers from around the world to cover specific missions and by doing this they are amplifying not only that mission, but their organization’s goals as well.

They are also creating small teams of dedicated NASA zealots who will forever pass along great word-of-mouth. This model is something every brand or organization should strive for; hey, it’s not rocket science!

These examples are a surefire way to make your content and engagement soar (ok, last zinger).

Image credit: Shutterstock.com (NASA logo sign)

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Post Author

Jameson Brown is a digital and social media professional who is currently the VP of Strategic Operations at Knechtel Group, a new media agency in Atlanta and New York. Clients have included IMAX, Macy's, Cox Communications, CNN, Advanstar Communications, AutoTrader.com,...

  • http://blog.wishpond.com/ Adella @ Wishpond

    Hi Jameson. Great insight! Nasa is also doing a lot of “involvement” on Google+ as well. They use Google Hangouts for the behind-the-scenes at the agency’s facilities, live questions and answer sessions and informational meet-ups for their followers.

  • jameybrown

    Hi Adella. Thank you! And thanks for the great info. You are so right too; they do very well on G+ because they capitalize on its best features to bring out their best features. Along with G+, Instagram is now in their wheelhouse and it seems to be attracting a lot of fans both deeply entrenched in the science exploration community and fans who are not as knowledgable in that arena.

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