Social Media Science a Star in 2012

The year 2012 saw many popular science-related videos becoming very popular, the most popular among them being Felix Baumgartner’s record-breaking supersonic jump 24 miles above planet Earth.

The video became so popular, in fact, that it made it into the top 10 year-end trending list of YouTube. This is also the first time that a video related to science made it to that list.

In the Zeitgeist 2012 list by Google of trending events, Baumgartner’s jump made it to seventh place. It ranks higher than Mitt Romney’s declaration of Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate. On first place in that list is Hurricane Sandy.

The numbers for science last year were surprising. Many people viewed and posted topics that are related to science on various levels; new discoveries, undersea and space explorations, among others. In an age wherein many people complain about the difficulty of math and science, it is indeed startling that scientific discoveries have become exciting and cool online.

Mars Curiosity's exposure on social media was extensive, and other science-related events became popular as well for 2012. (Image: MarkGregory007 (CC) via Flickr)

Mars Curiosity’s exposure on social media was extensive, and other science-related events became popular as well for 2012. (Image: MarkGregory007 (CC) via Flickr)

For example, Mars Curiosity’s first tweet, “Gale Crater I Am in You!!!” was so popular it gained 72,000 retweets. James Cameron’s “deepest tweet” from the Marianas Trench, which was actually sent by a friend on the surface, was, according to Twitter one of the social site’s “moments of serendipity and just plain awesomeness.”

Veronica McGregor, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory media relations and social media manager, said that the rover had 120,000 Twitter followers in August 4, which ballooned to 800,000 followers during landing night. After that, a million followers came in very rapidly.

The popularity continued right after Mars rover Curiosity landed. Two months later, it averaged 30,000 mentions on Twitter per month. It’s Facebook page is very popular as well with almost half a million likes, and it is also doing very well on Google Plus.

NASA has around 1.6 million Facebook likes. It has successfully used the strategy of presenting information in bits and pieces along social media platforms to maintain interest. For example, it has several short videos that people can view on YouTube anytime they want, including “Seven Minutes of Terror,” which talks about how hard it is to land the huge Curiosity rover. This video had seven million views.

Mars Curiosity fans can also participate in engaging social media activities, such as suggesting a name for the rover. In turn, NASA listened to what the fans wanted.

According to experts, social media has allowed us to witness the adventure of discovering the unknown in an unprecedented scale. Now, we can watch live events, talk about science without worrying about an exam, and share these with our friends right away.

This geek outbreak can be explained by the fact that social media has grown tremendously in popularity. Furthermore, science is a universal subject which can be enjoyed by all on a global scale. And those who are interested in science tend to want to share what they know through social media.

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Neal Alfie Lasta

I enjoy learning and writing about social media and the latest in mobile updates.

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