Video courtesy of AmericaSpace
Bob Jacobs (if you get the chance to meet him, be sure not to call him Robert) looks more like a linebacker than a NASA official. Then he speaks, a deep bass that demonstrates why he was such a success in radio. He now works for NASA as the agency’s deputy associate administrator for communications. He is also one of the driving forces behind NASA’s social media efforts.
AmericaSpace chatted with Jacobs during the recent move of space shuttle Atlantis to her new home at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Atlantis conducted the 9.8 mile move to the adjacent Visitor Complex on Nov. 2, 2012.
Jacobs discussed the reasons why NASA has upped its social media game, as well as the reception this has received so far. However, not everyone has been enamored with NASA’s efforts.
“There was some push back to begin including elements of social media along with traditional and new media, that hesitancy has slowly gone away as soon as they realized how knowledgeable these folks were,” Jacobs said.
NASA began what were initially dubbed “Tweetups” during the lead up to the end of the space shuttle era. The first of these events was held in January of 2009. With the term “Tweet,” a direct reference to Twitter, the space agency has since dropped the term in favor of “NASA Socials.”
These gatherings include enthusiasts of not just Twitter, but Facebook, Google+, and other various forms of social media. Before each of these socials, NASA issues a press release requesting that those interested in attending submit their names for consideration. The agency then selects a number of those to attend.
NASA Socials have become highly popular as they have allowed space enthusiasts to attend crucial events—which they normally would not have access to. Normally the only other group that can attend most of these events are members of the traditional media.
The first NASA Tweetup was held at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory located in Pasadena, Calif. Since that time NASA has hosted a number of these events. Some of these lasted only a few hours, others lasted an entire week (the launch of space shuttle Discovery on her last mission, STS-133).
So far, six NASA centers have held Socials, as well as NASA Headquarters located in Washington D.C. Some 2,000 fans of social media have participated in these events so far and there can be little doubt that these events will continue to inspire for the foreseeable future.