It may surprise you to know that the sensation on Facebook and Twitter surrounding NASA’s Mars rover was quite planned. That is, except for the fandom on behalf of “NASA Mohawk Guy”, Bobak Ferdowsi—but the employee was happy to lend himself as a rock star for the mission’s presence on social media.
From launch to landing, the mission to land the Curiosity rover on Mars on Aug. 5 took more than eight months, and that didn’t include the time it took to design the rover, build it, plan the flight path, and do all the checks necessary to ensure it got to Mars safely. From the very beginning of that process almost four years ago, social media has been a component.
“We’d really been building this audience for years,” Veronica McGregor, social media manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory told Ragan.com.
Over the nine months, the stream got about 4.3 million unique visits, she said. After that stream ended, the team has worked on other video series such as “Cruising with Curiosity” and “7 Minutes of Terror.”
There was also a team of people working on the Xbox game.
The explosion of interest when the rover when the rover touched down on Mars—it was a trending topic on Twitter for more than a day, and millions of people watched live feeds on the Web despite a lack of live coverage from the major TV networks—was no fluke, according to Ragan.com, a communications information site.
“We thought that was maybe a high bar,” Social Media Specialist Stephanie Smith said of the night of the mission. “We knew it was going to be big. We didn’t know how big.”
The number of Twitter followers was actually 300,000 or so as the landing took place. By Thursday, it was nearing 900,000.
The rover also has a personality on Twitter and is refered to as “she”. She also has banter with Steve Martin on the microblogging site, according to Ragan.com.
For one thing, men made up more of that fanbase than women, according to buzz ranking measured by Facebook.
It said men ranked 6.08 on a buzz scale of one to 10, compared to an overall score for women of 4.76, according to Mashable.
Something else about the buzz about the Curiosity’s mission that you may have noticed was the number of brands riding the gravy train. Brands include Oreo, Dr.Pepper, The Onion and JetBlue. These brands are most notable for the originality of their content.