[This is the fifth episode of the Better at Marketing Podcast.]
So, who hasn't loved space since they were a kid? I have been uniquely obsessed. Growing up with the last name Moon, it was always assumed that I had some sort of connection to space. I received my first under-powered telescope in 6th grade, which gave me the ability to spy on my neighbors. I also watched the movie Space Camp at least a dozen times. I still totally want to go, btw...
Like many others, my childhood interest in space diminished but never died upon adulthood. I have since been able to visit the Kennedy Space Center and been in continuous awe along with everyone else at the stunning images that the Hubble Space Telescope has delivered back to earth. Even more recently, I have been following NASA on Twitter and with their iPhone App.
In the last few weeks, I have been watching my Twitter feed become consumed with hash-tagged tweets for the very successful NASA Tweetup events. These events have been going on since 2009, but I didn't really take notice until recently. Imagine, a group of @NASA Twitter followers given an all access pass to the press area for a shuttle launch. Ah-mazing!
The most recent events have brought together 150 randomly drawn lottery registered Twitter followers from around the globe to share in an amazing and once in a lifetime experience.
With the most recent Tweetup event, I was so impressed by the amount of traffic and discussion that I had to look deeper into who was responsible for such a space sized success.
Meet Stephanie Shlerholz
Stephanie Schierholz is a NASA spokesperson and social media manager that has helped organize most of the Tweetups held by NASA including the most recent shuttle launch at Kennedy Space Center. I was fortunate enough to be able to schedule an interview with her for our Better at Marketing Podcast. During our interview with Stephanie, we covered how NASA is using social media, why it has been so successful for them, and how they have used the Tweetup events to grow community and connections with their fans. There are many important takeaways, but I want to summarize a few regarding the Tweetup events.
Tweetups Build Community
One of the points that Stephanie outlined was that attendees to the NASA Tweetups consider themselves Tweetup alumni and have built a closely-knit community around their experiences. A search on Twitter quickly reveals that this community is alive and thriving even when there isn't a Tweetup happening. During the 45 minutes that we were recording the podcast there were probably several hundred tweets using the #NASATweetup hash-tag.
Tweetups Create Connections
I was surprised to learn how the 20+ NASA Tweetups have resulted in many newfound friendships and even a few romantic relationships. Of course, it makes total sense, but still, it wasn't something I was expecting. Bringing people together who all share a common experience and interest in space is bound to ignite some fires.
Those connections aside, I think the most important connection created is actually between attendees and the NASA brand. As a government agency, we don't always see NASA as a brand, but their social media presence and online following certainly make it clear that they are one. Tweetup attendees are more connected and interested in space and NASA after the Tweetup events than ever before.
For us as marketers, the idea of creating community and connections around our brand is the very thing that we dream about at night. We are all trying to figure out how to get there while organizations like NASA are getting it done each and every day.
Listen to the Show
The least I can say is that all three of the Better at Marketing Podcast hosts were smitten with space during this interview. The excitement and community that NASA is building online is inspiring and infectious. Stephanie provides several valuable take-aways that can be applied to any business trying to use social media effectively. I am sure you will find several nuggets of brilliance in what she has to say. We would love to hear what you learned form Stephanie in the comments. Has she rejuvenated your interest in space and what NASA is doing?