NASA Science Social Media Consolidation FAQ

At NASA Science we use any and all ways to communicate our exploration from all perspectives. We talk about the colleagues who come up with space missions, the complexity of building spacecraft, the people who can hardly wait for the data to arrive, and the historic mission milestones and science results. As the way we learn and disseminate information evolves, so must we at NASA Science, to ensure we are best in class when it comes to sharing our message.

During a recent review, we took a look at all of the social media accounts associated with NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. We found that there are around 300 accounts across 8 platforms (Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter and YouTube). Because of this and to improve the reach and impact of our social media efforts, we are working on a strategic social media plan that will consolidate these existing profiles across the 8 platforms. Read the full blog post from Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for NASA Science Missions.

We have also developed a frequently asked questions list. Please see below. If you have additional questions, please reach through the Contact Us.

Social Media Consolidation FAQs

1. What is the Social Media Consolidation effort?

The social media consolidation is an effort that began back in 2016 with an audit of all social media accounts at NASA. It was found that there were more than 715 social media accounts, across 8 platforms at the agency. The Science Mission Directorate (SMD) had ownership over more than 300 of those accounts. SMD is leading the way in regards to the consolidation, and other mission directorates across the agency will begin the same process soon. In order to strategically reduce our digital footprint across social media, and ensure NASAscience is being shared with as many people as possible, we are moving toward utilizing thematic accounts, rather than mission or project specific accounts.

2. When did this effort begin? When will it end?

The social media consolidation began in 2016 with an audit. The work to make changes on social media by consolidating accounts began in 2018. In SMD, the consolidation effort is now in phase 2, meaning many SMD mission-specific accounts have already been consolidated or transitioned into a thematic account. We anticipate the effort will be completed for all of SMD in the fall of 2020. The consolidation effort in other directorates is beginning with an audit and development of a consolidation plan.

3. What does this mean for my social media account?

Mission-specific and project-specific accounts will be rolled into thematic accounts. Directed missions and Great Observatories (Curiosity Rover, Hubble, Webb), will be permitted to retain their individual presence on social media.

4. My social media account reaches a niche audience. Will it be exempt from consolidation?

We will consider each account on a case-by-case basis if it is claimed to reach a niche audience. Account holders will be required to provide data that support this claim and rationale for why this audience is better served with an individual account, rather than a thematic account. Account holders will also need to share a social media plan with their strategy for how they are engaging with a niche audience in a meaningful way.

5. What are the steps for consolidation?

Steps for consolidation vary in each circumstance, but the general process is: Hold initial meeting (includes Emily Furfaro and social media/mission team leads). During this meeting we’ll go through the consolidation overview and answer any questions you may have. We will then determine a timeline for consolidation. Before consolidation happens, we save an archive of the page for record keeping purposes. Typically, accounts update their bio, remove their header image and post a final message saying “Hey, we’ve moved. For future updates, visit [thematic account].” Here’s an example of an account that has already gone through this process:

6. What will the new process be for posting content to thematic accounts?

Each thematic account’s process will vary slightly. Part of this consolidation process includes meeting with all the contributors for a specific thematic account and workshopping the process so that it’s something that works for everyone involved. The NASA Earth Team has a good workflow that allows them to have contributors from multiple centers and missions. They have a shared Google Doc that serves as their editorial calendar, each contributor can add content to the calendar and send over fully drafted posts, or just send over links and images. They then have three people who have direct posting access and they work to get the posts out at the desired time and date. This is just one example of how posting to a thematic account could work.

7. What accounts are exempt from this consolidation?

Directed missions and Great Observatories are exempt from consolidation at this time.

8. How will my project or mission retain name recognition on social media if we are consolidated to a thematic account?

We’ve seen large success with missions using hashtags on thematic accounts. For example, the Parker Solar Probe mission utilized #ParkerSolarProbe during all of its coverage, rather than setting up a new social media account. The method was successful in still creating name recognition, while also taking advantage of the existing followers on the @NASASun thematic account.

9. Are thematic accounts useful?

Thematic accounts are some of the most popular and most followed accounts at the agency. We have seen great success with them across NASA.

10. If I manage a new mission’s communications, how do I create its presence on social media?

All new accounts at NASA must first be approved before they are opened. If you are interested in having a presence on social media, please start by reaching out to Emily Furfaro.

11. What if my PI or mission lead has directed me to open an account in the mission name?

All new accounts at NASA must first be approved before they are opened. Please make sure you are following guidance laid out in the Announcement of Opportunity, the selection letter, and your individual communications plan. If you are interested in having a presence on social media, please start by reaching out to Emily Furfaro.

12. Will new missions be permitted to create social media accounts?

All new missions will be encouraged to contribute to existing thematic accounts. New accounts will be opened on a case-by-case basis. All new accounts at NASA must first be approved before they are opened. If you are interested in having a presence on social media, please start by reaching out to Emily Furfaro.

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