Sure, exploring the final frontier is a huge advantage when it comes to generating viral buzz, but it's not all that NASA does right.
Last week when the rover curiosity touched down safely on Mars, people celebrated not just at mission control (though they did plenty of celebrating there) but also all around the world. In fact, news of NASA's latest success ricocheted around the Web at a amazing speed.
In short, it went viral.
And according to John Hudson writing for The Atlantic, that's not all down to the profound allure of investigating the final frontier. Sure, NASA has a big advantage when it comes to generating viral hits due to its mission servicing the fundamental human need for exploration, knowledge, and new discovery (Department of Agriculture, eat your heart out), but even the most powerful content can get bungled in its execution and delivery.
So what does NASA have to teach those who are desperate to generate just a small percentage of the buzz that came from the Curiosity rover for their business? Here are three of Hudson's insights on what NASA does right:
Let your personality show. Hudson's credits NASA engineer Bobak Ferdowsi (now known as "Mohawk Guy") and the rest of the staff at mission control for a lot of the Curiosity's viral buzz. "They "deserve props for their unadulterated enthusiasm following those two sacred words 'touchdown confirmed,'" he writes. The lesson here is people respond to genuine human emotion and personality. Let it show.
Mind your delivery method. "So you've got the best cast and crew you could ask for, but you still need a top notch delivery system. This is where NASA really excelled. With scarcely few problems, the NASA live stream provided a window for the entire world to see its success. That's easier said than done, as Gigaom's Derrick Harris reports," Hudson points out. You might not have an army of the finest science brains in the country at your disposal, but you can still make sure the technical aspects of your viral campaign work flawlessly.
Inspiring mission?Check. But let's be honest, you can have all the personality and tech in the world, but if you don't have an inspiring idea or interesting experience to share, no one will care. "The nature of NASA's mission, exploring the unknown, has a distinctly unifying quality to it," says Hudson. "The fact of the matter is, in NASA, the feds have their one true well-oiled viral hit factory, and… they didn't let us down." The takeaway for entrepreneurs is simply that you need to offer your audience something compelling that they want--not the message you want to get out or wish they wanted.
JESSICA STILLMAN is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist. @EntryLevelRebel