Jason Townsend Online space communicator by day who craves good friends, food + wine by night

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“NASA Shares Tips for Using Google+” – Fierce Government IT

Since it began using Google+ in November 2011, NASA has gained more than 229,000 followers and a wealth of experience using the social media tool. But success using the social media platform is largely dependent on knowing how to maximize the tool’s strengths, said Jason Townsend, deputy social media manager for NASA.

“We’re a technical, scientific organization and Google+ had a lot of early technology adopters who were starting on the platform,” said Townsend during a Sept. 26 webinar hosted by the General Services Administration’s DigitalGov University.

Because the audience is more engaged in the mission, Townsend said NASA focuses on providing interesting content in longer, comprehensive updates, as opposed to the condensed format used on Twitter. The agency also includes a call to action–such as “watch this video” or “get more information here”–and asks for feedback in order to start a conversation.

When it comes to major events, the “live tweeting” approach just doesn’t work on Google+, he said.

“We try to cover an event by providing a few comprehensive updates,” said Townsend. “We don’t really try to live post events on this platform because people tend to view it as spam. People have told us that they’re un-circling us because of the fact that we’ve overloaded their stream.”

Some agency events warrant special treatment, however, and Hangouts on Google+ provide a fresh format, said Townsend.

“It’s a really, really interesting format and medium,” he said.

It takes fewer resources to do a Hangout than a full-fledged TV production and is less stuffy than a traditional teleconference, said Townsend.

“It allows us to provide access to our subject matter experts. It allows us to showcase a particular topic and our expertise on that topic. And it really shows the human side of our government organization,” he said.

During Hangouts NASA asks viewers to submit questions using the hastag #AskNASA on Twitter and Google+. In addition to the on-air experts, NASA will typically have a moderator who can pose questions from the public and play traffic cop. They also appoint a behind-the-scenes technical producer to manage visuals, slides and helps switch camera views, said Townsend.

Read more: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/nasa-shares-tips-using-google/2012-10-09

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About Me
Jason is an industry leader in communications with over 14 years of experience in strategic and innovative use of digital tools, social media messaging and website content. Now leading efforts in NASA's strategic communications, he's previously directed the efforts of and executed some of the largest Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat accounts across those platforms, working on projects that have earned Emmy awards, Shorty Awards for best use of social media and Webby Awards for best corporate use of social media and websites. He is currently a communications program manager at NASA where he is responsible for leading the planning, development and implementation of strategic communications efforts across the agency.
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