The National Aeronautics and Space Administration – NASA - has rolled out a new branded partnership with Foursquare and comes on the heels of an announcement last week about the space agency teaming up with Gowalla, another geo-location based social company. To my knowledge, this would make NASA the only brand to officially align themselves with both Foursquare and Gowalla as well as the only Federal agency to use either platform. Those of you who know me personally can attest to my stating that I find this to be the most exciting Foursquare partnership to date.
To launch (punny) their Foursquare campaign, NASA has left tips at all of the NASA Visitor Centers around the country to encourage the public to visit these fantastic locations and create awareness about the facilities. Following NASA on Foursquare and checking in at these NASA visitor center locations and other science centers, museums, and planetariums will earn you this unique and great retro looking “Explorer” badge. Not only will you be able to follow the overall NASA agency, but you can even follow some of the NASA Astronauts like Col. Doug “Wheels” Wheelock. Wheels is currently on board the International Space Station and sends tweets with photos/mission updates from his @Astro_Wheels account. Today, Wheels became the first person to complete the first extra-terrestrial check-in when he checked in the International Space Station.
NASA is doing all the right things by engaging the public using these mediums. As they prepare for the final launches of the iconic space shuttle over the coming months, interest from around the world will be at an all time high. NASA is one of the most followed entities on Twitter and does a tremendous job at creating awareness of space related news and events. By using these social and location based tools they are able to show the public that they are involved in so much more than sending people up into space. The more successful they are with that education the better positioned they will be at being able to maintain public interest once the shuttle program goes away. This Foursquare partnership has tremendous potential for NASA to use their following to highlight and create excitement for other science related museums and planetariums around the country.
There are no locations in Atlanta (or Georgia) where NASA has left tips, but there are some in neighboring Alabama and Florida:
Should NASA be utilizing both the Gowalla and Foursquare platforms? My answer: YES! Gowalla and Foursquare each deliver a very different experience to their respective users and can be used to create different types of campaigns to raise brand awareness that appeal to those audiences. Limiting your exposure to only one of these emerging technologies as part of your marketing mix could handicap the reach and success of your brand. Gowalla adds a unique experience with their use of virtual items that can be collected around the world as well as the ability to create trips that users can complete to earn unique pins (Foursquare version of badges). NASA is utilizing the item feature to create a scavenger hunt of sorts for people to collect four space related items that can be found at more than 400 science centers around the US and even dropped at places visited by Astronauts like Mike Massimino (@Astro_Mike). If you are a Gowalla user you can follow NASA on Gowalla and Astro Mike so that you can track down and collect these four space related items:
Video of “Wheels” completing the first check-in from space on board the International Space Station to launch the NASA and Foursquare partnership and the first unlocking of the Explorer Badge: