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3…2…1…Blast Off Your Content Marketing With NASA 360’s Tips

NASA 360 is an award-winning vodcast designed to take you on a journey to the stars. NASA 360 shows you how technologies developed by NASA impact your life today—and are paving the way to the future.

Blast off content marketing - NASA 360

Produced in collaboration with NASA Langley Research Center, NASA 360 gives you a “first look” at everything from rockets to robots, from the next generation of aircraft to the latest innovations in energy, from atmospheric research to exploring the farthest reaches of our universe.

Scott Bednar and Becky Jaramillo, the content and social media team for NASA 360, turn brand content into captivating video and social experiences for their targeted 18- to 35-year-old demographic, which numbered 2.4 billion in 2010. They also face their share of challenges.

Among the challenges they attempt to overcome? Everything posted must be cleared by NASA before being shared in any of their social properties. NASA, one of the most recognized logos and brands in the entire world, didn’t resonate with the 18- to 35-year-old crowd initially.

“So how do you talk to a targeted audience with broad appeal?” Becky asked during her session at Demand Success 2014 with Scott.

“You use social media to create relationships with them,” Scott answered. “You stay attuned to the wants of your target audience, which in this case is easy for me because I am one of them.”

“Our target audience wants short video, small bites of information and lots of visual content,” he added, making sure to also stress the importance of providing context with the information shared in social media.

The 360 team has enjoyed spectacular success with their content and their social media. Among their recent triumphs: hitting 2 million fans on their Facebook page. However, this triumph has come with some learning and Scott and Becky shared their favorite tips:

Create relationships.

Don’t just talk at your followers. Talk WITH them and try to elicit an emotional response. Use social media to have two-way conversations.

Capture attention quickly.

Use visual content to grab the attention and elicit an emotional response. Then, where possible, use that chance to inform as part of the conversation. Informing is a core part of the 360 mission.

Be responsive.

“If you want (your audience) to pay attention to you, you need to pay attention to them,” Becky explains. “Acknowledge the existence of real-life issues.”

Scott and Becky talked about the difficulty they had during last year’s government furlough, when NASA was almost completely shut down. It forced 360 to stop production, pull the website and not update Facebook and Twitter for 17 days.

“It was difficult,” Scott says. “We were concerned about losing our audience and about how we could talk about the shut down in a way that would work for NASA.”

Once the furlough ended, they used humor to break the ice:

“The audience loved it. They came back and they started the conversations about the furlough so we weren’t forced to say much of anything specifically,” Becky says.

In fact, the update was so popular the story was picked up by the traditional news media, which helped extend 360’s reach and attract new viewers.

Celebrate milestones.

Scott and Becky stress the value of celebrating milestones with fans and followers with the example of their update thanking their audience when they hit the 1 million follower milestone on Facebook. They posted an update saying, “To our one million followers, we’re just over the moon for you.”

Nasa 360 Thanks

Do your research.

Don’t assume. Pay attention to trending news stories, changes to social media platform policies and what your followers are saying. Wherever possible, make your updates relevant to your audiences.

Becky and Scott described how they used photographs from NASA as selfies and how they have been able to tie into holidays and special events, like Earth Day posting an update with a photo of the earth from space and a quote from Dr Seuss’s book “The Lorax.”

“The day after Earth Day, we asked our followers what they had done to celebrate Earth Day,” Scott says. “We were flooded with stories from people about how they had marked the special day.”

Have fun.

Both Scott and Becky emphasize the importance of having fun with content development and social media management.

“We didn’t have to do social media,” Becky says. “We wanted to. And we have a lot of fun with it.”

The team continues to experience success with their content marketing and social media programs. They have proven the value of the social channels to NASA. In one example, they cited link to a NASA news release, posted in social with a storing visual, driving more traffic than the initial NASA distribution.

Becky and Scott ended the presentation by listing NASA 360’s top four “Social Media Commandments”:

  • Thou shalt stay focused
  • Thou shalt show not tell
  • Thou shalt pay attention
  • Thous shalt have fun!

Want to relive more of the fun from Demand Success? Check out our recaps of Day 1 and Day 2!

Images credited to Steve Jurvetson (Creative Commons) and NASA 360.

About Allen Mireles

Allen Mireles is a strategist and wordsmith with an affinity for technology. She lives at the intersection of social media and traditional marketing and public relations and never gets enough time in the garden. Find her on Twitter @allenmireles.

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