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NASA's social media: 4 big takeaways

Here are 4 lessons from NASA's social media your brand can learn.

Space is having a moment. In the past few weeks, the human race flew by Pluto and found a planet surprisingly similar to Earth. It's exciting stuff. And all the while, NASA's been keeping us Earthlings in the loop via social media.

First up, let's talk about the visuals. NASA tweets out images fast — like the morning of the Pluto fly by, we got a good look at the dwarf planet as well as the emotion in the room from the New Horizons team when those images first came through. Astronaut Scott Kelly tweets images that really put us all to shame. Plus, they produce gifs and videos. All these visuals are unique, compelling, and make you want to stop and pause on that post when you see them. If you've got something cool to show, show it.

Second, NASA engages with its audience. Not long after news broke about that Earth-like planet, Kepler 452b, the Kepler team hosted a Twitter chat with the hashtag ask Kepler. That means that you, staring into your phone on the bus home could ask anything you wanted, like how planets get named, and probably get an answer. Similarly, Kelly recently answered questions about living in space for a year. The point here is that while most of us will never experience space, NASA is making it easy to learn from people who have by engaging with the audience. And in doing so, it makes us care.

Third, along those lines, they're accessible on social media. If you're particularly interested in a certain mission, odds are it has its own Twitter account, and NASA is not chincy about sharing images, recent findings, and the science behind how they accomplish their goals.

Fourth, their tone is human. Brands always run the risk of sounding like talking logos, like some disembodied corporate voice. Across NASA's different accounts, you'll find humor and the occasional pun. The Mars Curiosity Rover account is written in first person and quotes T.S. Elliot. Most of the time — it sounds like the folks at NASA are having a good time. And why shouldn't they? Space is cool.

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About Erin Carson

Erin Carson is a Staff Reporter for CNET and a former Multimedia Editor for TechRepublic.

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