If you haven’t seen any of the space videos or images from Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian to command the International Space Station, you’ve been missing out on some real awesome stuff.
The guy has been hanging out on the space station for about 5 months, sharing some of the most amazing photography of the Earth ever taken, and creating a slew of funny, interesting and educational videos. In that time, he’s probably brought the most positive attention that space station has ever had.
He and the Canadian Space Agency has had millions of Youtube views, and nearly 1 million Twitter followers.
1. Provide a Unique Viewpoint
Who else has this perspective of a sunrise?
Spaceflight finale: To some this may look like a sunset. But it’s a new dawn. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/…
— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) May 13, 2013
This is a huge lesson for content marketers. What information can you provide that is unique to you, your knowledge, to your organization? Hadfield wasn’t taking selfies like everyone else on social media. He was taking pictures of sights you can only see from orbit. Hadfield has said that “The favorite past time for astronauts is looking out the window at the world,” and his work showed that passion.
2. Feed Curiosity
- What happens when you ring out a wet towel in space? What happens to your tears when you cry? How do you wash your hands in space? What happens to your body and your eyesight in space? What curious mind doesn’t want to know that stuff? Hadfield nails it. And it really is incredible to watch. Here are a couple of those videos:
3. Humanize Your Experiences
- In an interview in January, Hadfield was asked about sharing these things on social media. He answered, “We can directly give people the human side of that (experience in space).” Hadfield also reached out to elementary schools and answered their questions about space. He wasn’t a dry, corporate organization, but a real person who wanted to share his view from the top of the world with everyone that would watch and listen. His content, as he put it, has “captured the eyes and imagination of so many people.”
See more of that interview here:
Hadfield shared his insights into the whole experience, and how his life has changed from being in space for nearly 6 months. You can glimpse who he is from his reflections:
And he included humor, music, and surprised some of us with some serious vocal and guitar skills with his send off video singing “Space Oddity.”
So how would this grow a business?
The Canadian Space Agency hopes the interest Hadfield has roused over the past five months will help forge a stronger role for Canada in space at a time when that future is anything but certain.
Hadfield’s son Evan, 27, who is currently serving as his father’s unpaid social media manager, says several factors went into wanting to find a way to make a connection with Canadians during the ISS mission.
“It’s many things, but it all boils down to generating interest,” Evan Hadfield said in an interview from his current home in Germany, in this article from CBC News.
“You want people to be interested in the space program. And in a democracy like Canada, if you want a program to continue, the best way is to get people interested in it.”
If you’re doing social media for your business, that’s often the same goal when introducing new people to your organization. In the beginning, to get people interested, the Hadfields have outlined a nice strategy. The Canadian Space Agency had 22 million YouTube views in the last 5 months. Now, the rest is up to the Canadian Space Agency to continue off this momentum. To survive, it needs to.
“That’s the unfortunate thing,” says Marc Fricker, vice-president of the Canadian Space Society. “As much as he’s captured the attention of Canada and the media for this, unfortunately I don’t think that there is anywhere else for this to go. There’s nothing else out there. Unfortunately the space agency is dwindling. Its budgets are being cut. Its people are leaving as a mass exodus in some instances.”
“If we can’t convince Canadians that what we’re doing in space is valuable, then the next time we have to vote for a budget or the next time we have to vote for a government agency, we won’t be voting positively towards space, and I think that’s an absolute shame because what we’re doing in space is so phenomenal,” Evan said.
Similarly, after you get the attention, it’s up to you to sell that audience on your product or service — no matter how many YouTube videos you may have had. And that means you need to create a content strategy to build off momentum and initial traffic to your site. But that’s a whole other post.
What’s been your favorite part of Hadfield’s journey in space? What else can content marketers learn from what he has done? What should be the Canadian Space Society’s next move to capitalize off this momentum?