Monthly Archives: March 2012

NASA.gov and Social Media: Where Do They Meet?

Posted on by .

We released our last redesign in 2007. Since then social media have exploded and changed how people get information online. Social media have also raised the question of whether its participants are using their newer tools more exclusively, or are they still visiting existing web sites.

One of the questions we ask in our customer-satisfaction survey is how frequently a visitor accesses certain kinds of content or engages in particular activities. They respond on a scale of 1 (never) to 5 (always). Here are the results for 2011, with each activity, followed by the percentage of people who answered 3, 4, or 5 (in other words, with some frequency), and then the percentage of people who answered 1 (never).

Images: 86%, 4%
Feature stories & news updates: 81%, 6%
Video Features: 70%, 10%
NASA TV streaming: 48%, 28%
Interactive Features: 48%, 23%
NASA calendar: 45%, 27%
Bookmark or tag pages: 32%, 43%
e-Mail updates: 28%, 57%
Read blogs: 26%, 47%
Use social networks to find out about NASA: 22%, 65%
myNASA: 27%, 53%
Podcasts: 20%, 57%
Add comments, ratings or reviews: 19%, 60%


No surprises at the top. Images and video have been the most popular elements on the site since I started editing it in 1995. The most interesting thing to me is that 2/3 of respondents say they don’t use social media to find out about NASA. We have a related question asking people what other tools besides NASA.gov do they use to find out about NASA. The responses:
  
  Watch NASA video on YouTube: 37%  
Visit newsmedia sites like cnn.com: 27%  
  Other: 20%  
  Participate in online communities like Facebook regarding NASA missions: 12%  
  Read blogs: 9%  
  Follow NASA Twitter feeds: 9%  
  RSS feeds: 5%  
  None: 5%  
  SMS/Texting: 1%  

Taken together, the two questions suggest that NASA’s web audience and social-media audiences are still distinct, only overlapping a small amount. As we move forward into the next version of NASA.gov, which we hope to start working on in the next few weeks, we’ll need to keep this in mind. We want to integrate more social media into the web site, but we can’t move totally in that direction because there’s still a large part of audience that hasn’t done so at all.

Please offer any feedback you’d like to in the comments section.