Getting Social with NASA: The PR Function of Social Media

Social media plays an important role in the public relations efforts of businesses of all types. For local businesses, social media allows them to engage with their customers and fans, facilitate reviews and even address concerns on a platform to an already engaged audience. For larger businesses and business entities, social media can play a much more comprehensive role in spreading the word about current happenings and spread positive messaging across a variety of networks.

IMG_1632Last month I had the honor attending NASA’s most recent social event at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. For many of NASA’s events, social media influencers, journalists and others are invited to attend and cover and report on specific topics. These social events are an amazing opportunity for individuals to attend tests, launches and everything in between, while providing NASA with a lot of quality content and buzz around the space agency and their current projects. Now more than ever, NASA identifies the need for this type of continual content, published by influencers within the space and not simply content routed through the official NASA social media accounts. The event I attended was an RS-25 engine test, which included a full tour of the Stennis Space Center facilities and a comprehensive Q&A with NASA employees and an astronaut or two.

There were no restrictions on the types of content that social influencers post or write about, which I feel is one of the more important aspects of these events. Businesses of all sizes can learn that there is a lot more to social media than simply posting content – by engaging influencers and inviting them down for a day of events, NASA is generating buzz on a massive scale. Influencers came from all different areas of the country and in regards to their professions – traditional marketing, science related social media content creators, YouTubers, bloggers and everything in between.

When we think about social media, it is easy to fall into the habit of simply referring to networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. But it is so much more than that. The entire gamut of digital media has social components to it, from the virality and interactivity of blog posts and YouTube videos to creating unique content on social platforms, there are many ways that digital influencers are spreading the good word about the work that NASA is doing.

Growing up I was always fascinated with space – and for many years of my life, that was the field I wanted to get into in some capacity. There is an entire generation like me who grew up after the last great space race had already come and gone. This is the feeling that NASA is looking to capitalize on in a way that benefits all parties involved; a nostalgia for something that we were never able to actually be a part of or participate in the first time around.

Social Events for Small Business

While not every corner store can host a large social event for a hundred people, there are many ways that small businesses can get in on the action. By identifying a small IMG_1643section of your most influential customers and fans, small businesses can craft social experiences around their specific expertise. For a restuarant, this could be a tasting event where they encourage their guests to post pictures on Instagram and join the conversation on Facebook. For a small health startup, it could mean reaching out to a number of influential bloggers and offering up samples for review or making themselves available for interviews. Small businesses don’t have to implement something on the scale of the nation’s largest space agency to get their piece of the pie.

There is a lot that small businesses can learn from the way that NASA handles these types of events. From small local businesses to national corporations, the power of spreading your content lies in the hands of your influencers. By finding a way to provide an experience for your social followers, you can all share in the positive exposure of your brand.