A NASA Tweetup is a special opportunity to give guests behind-the-scenes access to NASA hardware and facilities. Participants are generally chosen by lottery via an open web process and invited to a NASA center to watch a launch, share an experience, or get an inside look at what happens at a center. NASA tweetups are anywhere from several hours to a few days and have included space shuttle launches, science missions, ISS downlinks, mission control – just about every aspect of spaceflight you can imagine.

As of August 2011, over 2,000 participants have been part of official NASA Tweetups since the first event at JPL in January 2009. NASA, in an attempt to measure the impact of one tweetup, tracked 10,665 tweets originating from 150 participants in the Juno Tweetup as well as the subsequent retweets and found 29.9 million potential impressions.

That’s a lot of outreach. I’ve participated in NASA Tweetups as a NASA ambassador for events at my own center (STS-130, first JSC tweetup) as well as a regular participant at another center. (SOFIA at NASA Ames Research Center) Every time I have seen some of the best NASA has to offer.

What’s exciting about tweetups:

  • This is social media as it is meant to function. NASA gets to tell their own story without a filter, listen and engage the public response, and interact directly with it. Tweetups also create community among often isolated followers, connecting them to NASA and to each other – and inspiring projects that aren’t sustained by NASA but by the community itself.
  • An extremely motivated, space-enthusiastic community who are ready to engage with NASA’s mission at a whole new level. It’s amazing to be in the company of people who sometimes have a wider knowledge of space history and trivia than many of us at NASA! I thought I was a space geek… but tweetups give a whole new definition to space geek!
  • The NASA Tweetup community (led by our friend Jon Verville) has set up their own community wiki to share their experiences and multiply their impact. They track each tweetup’s participants, schedule, media mentions, and mission references. The wiki also includes guides for first time attendeees as well as ways to stay involved.
Because here’s the reality: citizen engagement means that we are developing active evangelists and advocates for the space program – not just passive spectators. When we encourage NASA’s scientists and engineers to engage in real conversation with the public, it’s effective communication. When they understand what and why NASA is doing, they tend to share it with others – and this is creating relevancy. As NASA becomes more relevant to people, it builds trust and finds more and more advocates in the community who care about and want to contribute to the exploration vision, and this is inspiration. And it just keeps going from there…
Click here for more Tips on Tweetups. No tweetups are currently open for applications, but watch here for the next opportunity.
Do you wonder how NASA got into this Twitter thing anyway? Read here for a great story by JPL’s Veronica McGregor about the @MarsPhoenix story.
Another great story: one tweetup was cut short by some on-orbit excitement.
Today marks the 28th NASA Tweetup, happening at Wallops Island. Follow along on Twitter (@NASA_Wallops and @NASAtweetup) to join their adventure!
Any NASA tweetup alumni reading here? Please share what tweetup you attended and a reflection on your experience!

About Ali

Community Advocate

NASA Headquarters

alicia.llewellyn-1@nasa.gov