Planned Flight: NASA’s Use of Social Media

Tweets about activity on Mars, tweets from astronauts, and fighting a cyber attack on Twitter by animal lovers. It’s all part of NASA’s social media efforts. Stephanie Schierholz, NASA’s social media manager, recently sat down with Meghan Keane, US Editor of Econsultancy, to discuss the agency’s digital approach.

NASA learned some lessons in the very early days of Twitter with tweets about the Mars Rover. At the time, it was the third most followed Twitter account, with about 75,000 followers. That’s different than today, where NASA astronaut Mike Massimino has about 1.3 million followers on Twitter.

Tthe @NASA account is the primary NASA Twitter account and it is operated out of the office of communications at headquarters. NASA centers operate their own Twitter feeds, usually out of the office of communications. At the project and program level then it’s usually somebody on there who is running the Twitter feed because they are most connected to the information and what’s actually happening.

It recently introduced, which is tracks tweets, pictures and videos that employ the NASA hash tag. That way people without a Twitter account can contribute to the conversation through that page.

At TWTRCON NY last month, PETA launched a cyber attack on Twitter complaining about NASA’s treatment of monkeys. Schierholz says that while NASA works to correct any factual errors, it’s just not worth engaging with somebody who’s just out to be negative so it won’t respond.

Offline, NASA has been hosting NASA Tweetups. It gives people who follow NASA on Twitter the opportunity to come to an agency center and interact with agency personnel and get a behind the scenes view of what the agency’s doing. For the last launch Tweetup NASA had more than 1,000 people register online for 150 spots.