Are We There Yet?

December 5, 2008

About a year ago this article went up posing the question: “Can NASA Attract a Younger Crowd with Social Networking Tools?”

I don’t have a supportable, measurable answer for this question. I’m too busy reviewing what New Media efforts are already in process to step back and make a decision on that. But, since it stares me in the face WHILE I’m doing such a review I can say that on some level the answer must be “Yes.” I have found a few dismal failures, and also a few that seem to be fairly well used and interesting. The problem is quantifying all the data, not just what I have access to but even more importantly, what I do NOT have access to.

I can tell how many people joined a group on Facebook, or at least how many clicked the button to join and haven’t since thought the better of it and left. Keeping track of the actual leaves and joins would require more resources than are tracking the DJIA, and most of that data we simply can’t see and I very much doubt Facebook would tell us. Page owners might if we asked nice, but where’s the real need to know and how much effort do we spend. And other questions…

How much effort, that is very much my current concern. I’m on Google Page Two of my First Seach. I have eleven (11) sites that were not simply news articles but which are actual efforts, whether official or not, devoted to NASA information, networking, blogging and watchdogging. No, NasaWatch hasn’t come up yet.

But, this article garnered TWO entire comments, both of which were somewhat negative. That in itself doesn’t bode well, but the site it’s on is also a social networking kind of site, one I’d maybe heard of once. It clearly has some following, but is less an interactive play with your friends page than a “We’ll Tell You What’s Cool’ page. Personally, I suspect that in itself is a way to ensure less popularity. Which tells me we need to strike a balance in our own efforts between Telling People Stuff and Letting People Tell Each Other and Us Stuff. How do we position whatever our new Thing is to be both a platform for displaying cool stuff AND a way to get people talking to each other, having cool ideas, getting interested in science and above all, maybe deciding the want to be part of NASA?

My gut feeling is it won’t be something we can implement with Facebook alone, or a blog. At some point it will have to become an identifiable, stand alone web (or whatever is cool that century) based platform.

Maybe that will be the D in Mike’s “R&D.”

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One Response to “Are We There Yet?”

  1. mpfinneran Says:

    Great post Melissa. I think we definitely want an “both” page with as much dialogue as possible with the audience. The tell-them-what-we-want-them-to-know-model is “so yesterday” and is becoming less viable with time … which is why we’re here.


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