When Scientists Become Rockstars: NASA's Social Media Win as @Cmdr_Hadfield Tweets From Space

Commander Hadfield's Twitter account
There's been a lot of chatter on the Twitter over the past couple of weeks about the tweets and social interactions of one @Cmdr_Hadfield, yes that Commander Hadfield, the Canadian NASA Astronaut currently leading the crew of the International Space Station. 

Now, other astronauts have tweeted from space before but it's what Commander Hadfield is tweeting that is garnering so much attention: specifically, his Twitter conversations with stars of Star Trek, Will Wheaton and Bill Shatner.

It all started with a Shatner asking if Hadfield was tweeting from space, which got him the following (epic) response: " Yes, Standard Orbit, Captain. And we're detecting signs of life on the surface." How awesome is that? Hadfield addressing Shatner as Captain (Kirk) and giving him a status report as if he was monitoring the planet for approach.

If that wasn't enough, George Takei (aka Sulu) picked up on the conversation and posted it to both Twitter and Facebook, sharing it with millions of followers. That activity led to Hadfield commenting: "With  posting about our space comms, all we need is  to beam in and we'd have an away team! :)"

The fun continued with Wil Wheaton jumping into the fray, offering "a guy" to help Hadfield contain Nanites if he came across them in space. Hadfield treated poor Wil as the junior officer he was in the show, and kicked him off the bridge: " Wesley, we've talked about you being on the bridge. I believe you're needed in Engineering. :)" Ouch.

You want to talk about PR and viral social media marketing? Hadfield is the perfect social media spokesperson: he's witty, funny, engaged, and he doesn't spew on-message content at all times. As I mentioned earlier, there have been other astronauts who have tweeted before and some have even interacted with schools and youth from outer space. And who can forget Mars Rover live tweeting its exploration of the red planet. But Hadfield has raised the bar with his interactions, infusing the space pop culture references and proving once and for all the nerds are indeed kewl.

If all this wasn't enough, Hadfield nicknamed the mission blog "Captain's Blog", which any good Trekkie will recognize as being quite close in name to the Captain's Log. Sadly, NASA hasn't actually renamed the Mission Blog to Captain's Blog, although that would have been a nice touch to support his social media efforts.

If you need an example of a fantastic organic social media campaign, I think NASA has a winner with Hadfield's mission. Among all the Trekkie messages I've also noticed that he is tweeting photos of Canadian locations he passes over on his orbit. A wonderful touch for all the fans from his homeland, and a great way to showcase Canadian geography for his international followers.

I mentioned on Twitter this weekend that it gives me a complete nerdgasm to see people gush all over Commander Hadfield's tweets. Who needs celebrities when we have scientists? I would much rather show the Dude tweets from a scientist orbiting space and all of the wonderful reaction of people are having, than show him people screaming and gushing and retweeting pure crap from celebrities. 

This is just further proof that science is kewl. And it's a great time to be a nerd.

Geeks for the win!

[Aside: When I showed my little non-Trekkie the threads, I had to explain Wil Wheaton as "Sheldon's nemesis". A bit of a generation gap there, n'est-ce pas?]