NASA: Unexpected Social Media Success?

NASA Tweetup STS-135: Space Shuttle Atlantis Returns to Earth from Danny Engesser on Vimeo.
Given budget cuts and the recent end of the NASA's 30-year Shuttle program one wouldn't necessarily look to the agency to be a leader in the social media space. However, perhaps driven by said budget cuts, (according to this Mashable article "many of the journalists who traditionally covered the space have been laid off or given new assignments.") NASA seems to be moving forward with several innovative social media strategies.

Recently, I was discussing ways to take one's online community offline, and the agency is doing just that by opening up a series of tweet-ups to their dedicated twitter following. The upcoming #NASATweetup at the launch of the Juno spacecraft en route to Jupiter marks one such event. Ranging in length from two hours to two days, these events allow fans of the program an inside view and create vocal advocates for the agency. One result? Attendees create and share video and photographs such as the film above with their social networks

Similarly, the new NASA Slideshare page "The NASA Universe" is a curated repository of (easily shareable) information about the agency. Increasingly, Slideshare is becoming a well respected source for professional social networking.
Another NASA success? That of @Astro_Ron. Sharing stunning photographs like this one: This is what the Moon looked like 16 times today #FromSpace W... on Twitpic it's easy to see why his work has gone viral.
According to Stephanie Schierholz, NASA’s social media manager as quoted on Mashable “Our strategy is to share what we’re doing as widely and broadly as possible."
Do you think NASA has been sucessful with this goal? What can we learn from the innovative agency?

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a specialization in marketing. She may be reached at


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