A Guide to NASA Social Events

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


In June of last year I had the amazing opportunity to attend a NASA Social Event. According to the website NASA Social is "a program to provide opportunities for NASA's social media followers to learn and share information about NASA's missions, people, and programs... NASA Social program includes both special in-person events and social media credentials for individuals who share the news in a significant way." So basically NASA picks social media users to attend exclusive events related to current project that are going on in within the agency. The lucky people who are picked get to learn about cool NASA stuff and then post about it on their own social media. Sounds great, right? RIGHT. Heres everything you need to know about these NASA Socials.


Here's the process:

  1. Pick an Event – the easiest way to know about upcoming events is to follow the @NASASocial twitter feed. Whenever applications are open they post links to the applications. Alternatively, the NASA website is always updated with current and future events.

    Pro-tip: Make sure to pick an event that you are financially able to pay for before applying. While NASA gets you into the event, you have to plan and pay for travel and accommodations; the closer the better.
  2. Apply – The application is very simple. They just want to know why you think you're qualified to receive a "media credential." Obviously it's going to be easier to apply if you're active in any form of media; traditional and non traditional. Whether or not you're a journalist for a traditional news outlet or a blogger, they want to know the way that you use media to talk about and/or promote science. In my application I wrote primarily about how I make science-related videos on YouTube and engage in the science community on Tumblr and how I would share my NASA Social experience with others to promote the specific event that was happening.

    If you want to attend a NASA Social but don't use social media very much, it might be a little harder to be picked. They want to see that you are active on social media, have a good following, and post regularly. I'm not sure whether or not it matters what you post about. I think that as long as you are somehow posting, work in, or are a fan of the science community, and are using social media to connect with that community then your enthusiasm will speak volumes.

    Pro-tip: Be active on at least one social media platform
  3. Check-in – Okay, Great! You've been accepted. What next? Check-in is very simple. In the acceptance email, you'll receive all the check-in information. Such as location, time, and things that you are allowed and not allowed to bring. Just follow the instructions and you'll be great. One thing that everyone needs to bring - two forms of identification. Don't forget this part or you won't be allowed to participate, and that wouldn't be any fun at all! I actually had a few questions and I send some replies to the emails I received and got specific answers back, so don't be afraid to follow up those emails with questions.

    In my experience, I was told that I'd be fine bringing my camera but that they would be marked and tagged before entering and leaving for security reasons. It will depend on the location and the event. A lot of people brought their laptops so they could write notes, tweet, and update their social media accounts live as it was happening. So if live blogging/tweeting is your thing, no worries about your phone dying!
  4. The Event – Each NASA Social is different so I can't say much in this part. Just make sure you dress appropriately and have all the tech you need to document the experience!

    Some notes for planning: One question I had while planning was, WHAT DO I WEAR. There were a lot of people dressed in business casual outfits and a lot of people just dressed casually, so it is absolutely up to you. If you want to dress nicely, great. If not, don't be afraid to dress in whatever is comfortable. I think most NASA Socials involve a lot of walking so prepare accordingly in the shoe department. I opted for comfort and wore jeans, sneakers, and a nicer blouse and a zip-up jacket just in-case it got cold inside. During my NASA Social we stopped for a lunch break half-way through the day. If this happens you'll have the opportunity to bring your own lunch or pay for lunch at the event. I payed -$10 I think- and ate the catered lunch. 
BONUS: Something that I saw happen was that people going to the same group created a Facebook group so they could communicate easily before, during, and after the event. If you're a go getter who likes to be super involved, create your own facebook group and invite others who are going to the same event to join! This really helps create a nice bond between attendees before the event and can make the event so much more fun once you're there. A quick guide on that? – Create a FB group (private group is best). Once acceptance emails start going out other people will also be tweeting about their acceptances. Search the tag that you'll be given in your acceptance email and message other people about the group. You can also search the lists section on the NASASocial twitter, find your group and then see all the people going to the same event. Soon you'll have a lot of people who are going to the same event in a group and you can all talk, plan, etc. before the event. 

Hopefully this guide helped explain more about the NASA Social experience. PLEASE comment with any questions or other suggestions. 

This post will also be updated sporadically with new tips and suggestions as I receive them.


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