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How NASA Builds Community

Community Building at NASA

In the fall we held a special 2-year anniversary #cmgrchat with special guests from NASA. They manage a significant amount of social media assets and build their community through a variety of online and offline events.

Arguably one of the coolest and most progressive organizations out there and we were lucky to have a few members of their social team come and talk to us. We compiled a few of the takeaways and share how NASA does community.

We would like to thank @VeronicaMcG, @CourtOConnor, & @Stephist from NASA for their time & expertise!

Q: With the huge amount of fans/followers/friends @NASA has, how does your team handle the division of labor?

CourtOConnor Prior to major mission events (launches, landings, etc), we’ll draft a media plan with a division of labor.

CourtOConnor: On Twitter @NASA has 2.8 million followers, @MarsCuriosity 1.1 million, @AsteroidWatch 900k+

Stephist  Strategy has been “call the ball.” We sit close & talk to each other when responding. Off-site, we call on phone

VeronicaMcG about 250 @NASA accounts exist. Team @NASAJPL handles approx 10. We can’t do 1 for every mission here (over 20).

Q: What is behind NASA’s strategy for building community via the #NASASocial events?

Stephist  It varies from @NASA center to center. SM reps wear a variety of hats.

Stephist #NASASocial events help put the social back in social media. Remind us all of the humans behind the missions & followers

Stephist #NASASocial events are coordinated across centers & often coincide w/major mission events. Attendees selected randomly

VeronicaMcG Other strategy for #NASASocial is to expose newbies to the things that made us fall in love with space exploration.

CourtOConnor You can always find out about upcoming #NASASocial events here: http://t.co/ZnhuOmXu

Stephist Start planning events early; communicate frequently; get diverse array of speakers & don’t make people sit too long

CourtOConnor Overall strategy = increase understanding and enthusiasm.

CourtOConnor: Our focus is to keep people up-to-date with mission news and *why it matters*

Q: Is NASA focused more on growing the existing community or in finding new members?

Stephist Yes & yes. We must keep enthusiasm going among followers, but can’t grow a community w/o new members. There’s room for all

VeronicaMcG: Over 50-percent of our posts are @replies. It’s a two-way conversation.

CourtOConnor News drives followers. Sometimes it’s a slow boil, @MarsCuriosity grew by 800k in one week.

VeronicaMcG Many #NASAsocial attendees want to return for more. A small number get in multiple events. We like newbies + some vets

Q: How do you identify Brand Ambassadors and how do you reward or recognize them?

Stephist Repeat #NASASocial attendees often step up as community organizers. It’s a big family. See http://t.co/DIqbOYwV

VeronicaMcG The fact that so many #NASASocial attendees stuck together & became community organizers was an unexpected treasure.

VeronicaMcG  1st #NASASocial, in Jan. ’09, was a way to thank brand ambassadors, at that time our followers for @MarsPhoenix mission.

Want to find out more about NASA?  Connect and Collaborate with NASA here.

This interview was taken from the #cmgrchat digest that took place on Wednesday September 12th.

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About the author

Jenn Pedde

Jenn is a Co-Founder of The Community Manager and the Editor-In-Chief. She’s also an adjunct professor at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies. You can find her almost anywhere online, but specifically on #CmgrChat every Wednesday from 2-3pm ET.

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