Lessons from the Best #Government Twitters

In April, NASA received its second consecutive Shorty Award for the best government use of social media. The Shorty Awards is an annual crowdsourced contest honoring the best in social media across the globe. The organizations and individual recognized utilize Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram and other outlets in interesting and inventive ways.

NASA uses almost 500 social media accounts to share its explorations with the public. With over 4.5 million followers, the @NASA twitter handle is the most popular in the federal government. While the number of accounts is both impressive and intimidating, the X factor to NASA’s social media success is its ability to inspire and engage people through its mission.

Mixing In-Person and Virtual Participation

One of the agency’s primary engagement programs is NASA Socials (formerly NASA Tweetups), an informal meeting for NASA’s social media followers. In-person participants attend a NASA event at one of its space and research centers to witness an exciting event and learn about the latest discoveries and missions.

For example, dedicated NASA followers can register to watch the Orion Stationary Recovery Test at the Langley Research Center, and share the experience with others through their social media. These attendants effectively serve as social media agents for NASA, earning cool points from their followers while further propelling NASA’s communications. Folks unable to attend events live can plug into NASA’s activities on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

Facilitate “Geeking Out”

Space is exciting and folks enjoy sharing exciting moments. When asked by the Shorty Awards about the funniest trend, NASA responded, “People geeking out during coverage of space shuttle launches and other mission activities. They can get really excited.”

Spotlight Uniqueness

No one else on Earth has the content and imagery that NASA has. Their communications team certainly acknowledges that and uses it to inspire. In addition, no other agency has the broad reach into the depths of the universe. NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover won the Shorty Award for Foursquare Mayor of the year with its check-in to the red planet, including pictures.

Very Honorable Mention – Beyond Trending


Another notable government Twitter is the Real Warriors Campaign, a multimedia public awareness program to encourage service members, veterans and military families to seek help in coping with psychological wounds. When the Shorty Awards asked about their favorite tweet, @realwarriors responded with their most popular tweet, “Have a fun, safe night! Remember, if you or someone you know is in crisis help is a phone call away: 1-800-273-8255, press 1.” They publish this 24/7 hotline regularly between 10pm and 2am to remind people that help is always available. Although Twitter is known for its brevity, the campaign never shortens this important message.

Real Warriors shows #realstrength in Twitter messaging, rallying for a social environment where seeking mental health care is valued and respected as much as seeking care for a physical illness or wound.

Do you have a favorite government Twitter?

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