#NASATweetupContest – or ‘how to really scare yourself with Twitter’

So in chatting with folks on Facebook, I decided that for the final launch of the Space Shuttle Program – STS-135 I would, first, sign up for the NASA Tweetup for the launch.  OK, that’s probably a no-brainer, but then folks on FB started guessing as to how many would sign up.  There were about 4,105 for STS-134’s launch Tweetup, so guesses started almost as soon as the registration was closed (which was only open for 24 hours).  So I figured, heck, I’ve got some interesting swag around that I don’t really need, let’s spread the love a little bit!  So I posted the following on Twitter:

Contest announcement! For @STS_135 #NASATweetup I will give a spacey prize for closest w/o going over for # of applicants. #NASATweetup

followed up by:

For my #NASATweetup contest use #NASATweetupContest hashtag. In case of tie, earlier guess wins out.

thinking I’d get 30 or 40 guesses and I’d send them some stuff:

NASATweetupContest prizes

NASATweetupContest prizes

The Skylab patch is an original that’s never been on anything from the early 1970, so that’s kind of interesting, everything else is duplicates or stuff I didn’t really need or CDs I’ve done in my studio.

Then this shows up on Twitter:

NASA TweetupNASATweetupNASA Tweetup
RT @VAXHeadroom Contest! I will give a spacey prize for closest w/o going over for # of #NASATweetup applicants. #NASATweetupContest

Ack!! The power of social media has just pretty much aimed a rapid-fire rabid bunch of space geeks at my Twitter feed!  NASATweetup has about 21,200 followers, so all of a sudden I got a little bit nervous, because this could get WAY bigger than I had anticipated!

OK, it turned out not hard at all, and I had less than 300 applicants for the contest (whew!).  I found TwitScoop the easiest client to search for hashtags and paste them into a spreadsheet in which I could sort and find the numbers.  20,000 applicants would have been intractable in this manner, but 300 wasn’t bad at all.  I posted statistics (Min,Max,Avg,Mean, and Count) every night for about 5 days and garnered about 100 new Twitter followers in the process – a very NICE side affect!

So be warned!  The power of social media is great, but be prepared to have it go WAY bigger than you originally anticipated!  Users generally find a way to use your contest/programs/rules/etc in ways you NEVER anticipated!

From where are you watching the VERY LAST SHUTTLE LAUNCH EVER?  Hope it’s from as close as you can possibly get!!


About VAXHeadroom

Among other things I was the Lead C&DH Flight Software Engineer on LCROSS. My LCROSS photo blog on Facebook can be accessed at http://tinyurl.com/lcross-is-go I run a recording studio and publishing company http://www.untiedmusic.com and tweet as @VAXHeadroom. I'm also a public speaker on space, physics, technology and stage performance. I love talking to kids from K to college, drop me an email if interested in having me come speak!
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