In 2021, millions of social media users engaged directly with NASA across 14 platforms, sharing the excitement of exploration with their own followers, whether it was watching a rover landing or a helicopter flying on Mars, seeing travel into low Earth orbit become nearly routine or helping to bring NASA to an ever-widening audience of Spanish speakers.
NASA’s flagship social media accounts reached a number of important milestones in 2021:
164 million followers across platforms, an increase of 18 million over 2020
70 million Instagram followers
50 million Twitter followers
25 million Facebook followers
312 million engagements, an average of 44,000 per post, including 2.6 million shares
The landing of the Perseverance Mars Rover in February was one of the biggest engagement events in NASA history. On Instagram alone, the main landing photo received 3.1 million likes.
NASA hosted its first dedicated live broadcast on Twitch, showing the Mars Perseverance Rover’s landing on Twitch, combing the standard broadcast with data visualization from NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System data visualization.
A NASA/National Geographic Mars surface Instagram filter used real images taken by the Perseverance rover on the surface to allow users to immerse themselves in a 3D view of the Red Planet and interact as the rover by driving and drilling into Mars rocks. It was one of the many NASA posts picked up by influencers, in this case musician Nick Jonas, who posted it to his 30 million Instagram followers.
NASA expanded its connections with the Spanish-speaking public, hosting its first live Spanish-language broadcast of a mission milestone: the Mars Perseverance rover landing show “Juntos perseveramos” (“Together We Persevere”) has surpassed 2.6 million views and is the top video on our Spanish YouTube channel. The channel gained 110K subscribers in 2021 (adding over twice as many compared to 2020) and released an 8-video series “Los martes de Marte” which had 1.6 million views on all our social platforms.
On Twitter NASA hosted its first Twitter Space in advance of the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, with 68,000 listeners joining to learn about the mission.
NASA collaborated with multiple influencers to spotlight agency events included: Enrique Iglesias, Sia, and Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Ingenuity helicopter, Shawn Mendes on Earth Day, Juanes for Perseverance and Lucy, Jonathan Van Ness interviewing a Perseverance engineer & sharing the Mars filter, a new Google Earth timelapse, a reading from William Shatner to welcome Administrator Nelson and a message from astronauts on the space station appearing at the MTV Video Music Awards.
NASA’s engagement went higher, farther, faster when Team USA’s official Twitter account (1.9 million followers) tagged NASA’s flagship account in this Tweet about Simone Biles (who liked their tweet) which went out to Team USA’s follower base of over 1.9 million. The Tweet and NASA’s response generated 1,800 engagements.
NASA’s Reach: Popular Music
Musician Sia released a new video around her song Floating Through Space, featuring footage from NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter. The song garnered 74,000 views in one day on Sia's YouTube channel, which has 19.5 million subscribers. NASA amplified with Twitter and Facebook posts, which have 2,700 engagements so far.
Inspiring the next generation of explorers
Perhaps even more important than connecting with celebrities, reaching young people and getting them excited about exploration will spread NASA’s message. JJ, a 5-year-old influencer who is passionate about all things related to STEM and NASA, shared a letter he wrote to the agency on his Instagram account with his over 18,000 followers. NASA’s flagship Instagram replied and provided words of encouragement along with anticipation for his future astronaut application.