Even though the popular “space race” of the 1950s-1970s is long over and we’ve already been to the moon and sent robots to Mars, space exploration is still more important than ever.
Thankfully, most people in the U.S. still agree with that. So much so, in fact, that some private companies and wealthy individuals have started a new “space race” of their own, with ideas to take people to the moon and explore other areas of space.
But NASA remains the face of space exploration and research. They know the importance of keeping the next generation interested in space exploration. Because of this, NASA looks at space from a scientific view — not just something to explore for entertainment purposes. NASA focuses on the science behind space. There is still so much left to learn, and it will be up to the next generation and beyond to make important discoveries.
So, how is NASA making sure millennials are staying excited about space exploration?
You might think outerspace markets itself, but NASA has to work just as hard as any other company to market its “product.” Chances are, just about everyone has heard of the organization, but if NASA isn’t able to show just how important the future of space exploration is to this generation and beyond, it could set the U.S. back when it comes to new discoveries that could change our future.
Many celebrities, from Kylie Jenner to Kendrick Lamar, have utilized social media to create buzz around a new album, tour, or other major events. It’s a great way to get people talking online, and any marketing expert knows that word of mouth is the best type of advertising there is!
With that in mind, NASA has taken to millennial marketing. The good news? Many millennials are already interested in space. About 46% of millennials already believe there is life on other planets. That drives the interest to explore and learn more. So how is NASA capitalizing on that? They’re using strategic marketing, in different ways than they’ve ever had to.
Millennials aren’t going to respond as well to things like billboards, magazine ads, or television commercials (they may not even respond to gimmicky advertising that’s already on the moon). They are a highly digital group, with 89% of Americans between the ages of 18-29 using social media. Additionally, 82% of that same age group is likely to “follow” their favorite brands, celebrities, and retailers on social media and actually interact with them. That’s the interesting difference between social media and other advertising outlets: it gives businesses and brands a chance to really interact and connect with followers.
Generation Y is interactive, not passive. When NASA realized this several years ago, they asked the Gen Y members of their team to give them advice on what millennials would like to see. The underlying answer was more connection, so boosting social media interaction seemed like the best solution.
NASA has taken “one giant leap” in expanding their social media presence over the last few years. They’ve added a “Connect” tab to the NASA website, which allows visitors easy access to all of their social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, Snapchat, and even Pinterest.
Where NASA has really stretched out their social media legs, though, is Twitter. NASA currently has almost 32 million followers on Twitter. They frequently post pictures from space, use hashtags to promote certain events or conversations, talk about space history, and more.
There are additional accounts NASA connects with on Twitter, including @NASA_Astronauts. Many astronauts for the U.S. also have their own accounts so people can follow their training, everyday lives, and their explorations in space. Astronaut Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) is probably the most famous tweeter from space, as he regularly checks in with his followers through videos and pictures of himself and his crew while they’re floating around in zero gravity.
NASA shows no signs of slowing down when it comes to social media, nor do they show signs of slowing down when it comes to the future of space exploration. They are currently in the middle of an asteroid sample return mission, set to return home in 2023. They also are planning a mission to Jupiter’s ocean-bearing moon Europa in the 2020s.
NASA continues to develop cutting-edge technology to be used both on Earth and in space, to make exploration easier and more advanced than ever. But the next generation of scientists, explorers, and space enthusiasts are needed to keep that momentum going. Thankfully, NASA seems to be on board with keeping millennials invested with a social media strategy that is out of this world.