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By now you have at least heard about, if not seen and re-tweeted, Ellen’s “impromptu” selfie that quickly crashed Twitter. There’s good reason: according to the social network, roughly 37 million people followed some Oscar-related tweets on Sunday night, almost as many as the 43 million who watched the program on ABC.
Quite a few brands were taking advantage of all those eyeballs on second screens. Some merely pushed promoted tweets, with little connecting the brand to the live event. I lost count of the number of beautifully coifed hair photos Pantene doled out. I skipped through them with the same attention I paid to the commercials I fast-forwarded through.
The brands that were most successful at their Twitter promotions were those that used relevant content. Bing, for example, delivered factoids related to the actors and movies being celebrated. I read them in my feed with the same engagement level as the tweets about Pharrell Williams’ hat – clever and interesting enough, but nothing particularly notable.
Then there’s NASA – an organization that is unquestionably innovative is many ways but doesn’t come top of mind when I’m thinking of social media. As the movie Gravity was up for several awards, NASA used the opportunity to tweet real pictures from space using the hashtag #realgravity. The photos were stunning shots, looking like they came right out of a movie studio. I devoured those tweets. I re-tweeted them. I clicked through to their Flickr page. I called my husband over to take a look.
I wasn’t the only one blown away by NASA’s tweets. Not only were those pictures favorited and shared, but the strategy earned coverage by USA Today, Mashable, CBS and dozens of other outlets. And unlike Bing and Pantene and other brands, there was no need to pay for promoted tweets.
NASA is a great example of how good, engaging content is so important to successful campaigns, but it also isn’t everything. Content is only as good as its distribution. NASA made a series of smart, calculated decisions that paid off big-time.
They picked the right medium – they could have easily done a photo spread in a glossy magazine where the photos would have been showcased beautifully, but who would have really seen it? Twitter was perfect for sharing, generating buzz and getting new followers. They chose the perfect moment when they knew a large audience was likely to be engaged. Perhaps most remarkably, they found a way to connect their brand to the news of the day. Actors and astronauts are not known for moving in the same circles, but they did Sunday night.
So, kudos to you, NASA. It was a performance worthy of an Oscar.
Feature Image | Antoine Taveneaux via Creative Commons