Finding Social Inspiration In a Galaxy Far, Far Away

When looking for creative and innovative ways to share a brand’s story, we often find inspiration from Fortune 100 brands, inspiring purpose-driven organizations or from no-holds-barred start-ups. But sometimes, we can discover inspiration in unlikely and often uncharted territory for communications professionals. Yesterday, NASA hosted a press conference to announce its discovery of seven new Earth-sized planets orbiting a nearby star (a mere 235 trillion miles away), and opened the event up to the public by allowing curious community members to #AskNASA any question on their social platforms. NASA also had a session with Reddit and Ask Me Anything (AMA) after the press conference.

So if you’re looking to unearth a new muse for ideas, NASA may be the new shining light (or pale blue dot) you’ve been looking for. Here’s why…

Value and Entertainment:
NASA feeds into our natural curiosity for wonder. Instagram posts are not just beautiful pictures, they’re shared along with a detailed explanation for context, like this photo of stars illuminating in different colors. This combination of fascinating visuals and elaborate copy provides followers with a rich mix of value and entertainment few organizations can match. Their mission is to disseminate the widest practical information on what NASA is up to, and it shines through across their social properties.

Storytelling:
NASA successfully communicates science speak by simplifying concepts and leveraging native social features. All posts are customized for each platform to help capture the heart of every story in the most effective way. From Instagram galleries to live social broadcasts that remind you of real TV broadcasts, NASA has mastered social storytelling by using simple language and keeping followers at the center of their content strategy.

Community:
Dating back to 2009, NASA’s Tweetups (now NASA Socials), community has been at the core of NASA’s social strategy, fueling engagement and loyalty among their followers. Everything they do invites two-way communication, which has created an incredibly active following. Their community is so strong that during the government’s shutdown in 2013, NASA fans started #ThingsNASAMightTweet, a crowd-sourced feed on the latest space explorations and happenings.

The big brains over at NASA might seem intimidating, but they’re sharing stories in a way that renews my sense of wonder and should make us all feel part of something special. So, when you’re in a brainstorm for a client and you’re asked to “shoot for the moon,” think about NASA and you just might get there.

About Alex Bochner

Alex Bochner is the Associate Manager of Online Communications within Ketchum's New York office. Alex manages the online platforms of Ketchum with a primary focus on social. He's fascinated by communications, and understanding what makes people tick. You can find him on Twitter @BochnerAlex.

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