Is Social Media Saving Space Travel?

Has social media saved our space program, baby boomers?

As a cause, space travel has had some fantastic success with social marketing. NASA has 14 million Twitter followers on their main account and regularly receives incredibly large amounts of interaction with their tweets, which frequently link to their content elsewhere...

Having consistently solid interaction like is a great sign of social media success, and is key to keeping your audience engaged. NASA routinely goes beyond this, however, by actively utilizing smart tactics grow their social presence such as crafting content that fits with things that people are talking about, such as this tweet from the day of last year’s Super Bowl.

Instead of some far off and disconnected idea, space travel now has a tangibility to it that was desperately needed for a long time. We don’t only have the ability to see what astronauts are up to, but we can even interact with them through social media. We can tweet them questions and have decent hope for a reply, or even a video demonstration.

This phenomenon was accurately predicted by Michael Swanwick in his 2002 short story Slow Life, in which astronauts were expected to respond to social media promptly and in good spirits:

"...I've got today's voice-posts from the Web cued up."

Lizzie groaned and Consuelo blew a raspberry. By NAFTASA policy, the ground crew participated in all webcasts. Officially, they were delighted to share their experiences with the public. But the VoiceWeb (privately, Lizzie thought of it as the Illiternet) made them accessible to people who lacked even the minimal intellectual skills needed to handle a keyboard.

"Let me remind you that we're on an open circuit here, so anything you say will go into my reply. You're certainly welcome to chime in at any time. But each question-and-response is transmitted in one take, so if you flub a line, we'll have to go back to the beginning and start all over again."

"Okay. Here's the first one."

"Uh, hi, this is BladeNinja43. I was wondering just what it is that you guys are hoping to discover out there."

"That's an extremely good question," Alan lied. "And the answer is: We don't know! This is a voyage of discovery, and we're engaged in what's called "pure science..."

Just for a treat, here's an actual video from the ISS in which an astronaut answers a kind of simple-minded question. Or is it? Can you predict what will happen when he wrings out a wet washcloth on the space station?

Via Social Media Week.

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