VCU’s Ellie Hutton was impressed by the sheer scale of Cmd. Chris Hadfield’s spacey social media presence over his five-month ISS tour. While Marketing dug into the team behind this expansive operation (“Meet the team behind Chris Hadfield“), Hutton saw take-aways for CMOs looking to find social media relevance.
Not-so-obvious CMO tips we learned from Chris Hadfield
Unless you’ve been hiding on the moon for the past couple of months, you’ve probably heard of Chris Hadfield, the Canadian astronaut who recently returned to Earth after a five month stint as commander at the International Space Station (ISS).
In addition to making space exploration hip again, Hadfield’s ISS gig was a social media hit. To date, Hadfield has secured nearly one million Twitter followers, loads of media pick up and thousands of retweets. He also created one of the top Reddit AMA threads of all time and has a popular Tumblr blog.
There are some obvious marketing lessons from the Hadfield social media firestorm. While at ISS, he effectively utilized multimedia to connect with Earthlings using photos, YouTube videos and Tweets. Hadfield proved that content is still king and that even space exploration, can be trendy.
However, there are some less obvious lessons from Hadfield to the CMO.
Show that you’re listening
On his Reddit AMA thread, Hadfield answered Redditors directly by responding to every question from scientific issues to who should play him in a movie to organizing a mutiny on the ISS.
On his Twitter page, Hadfield doesn’t respond to every single mention, but it’s clear that he’s not ignoring his community. By retweeting replies on occasion, he showcases his community’s feedback while listening to what the Twitterverse has to say.
Social media provides opportunities for companies to show that they are listening, but this doesn’t always have to be in the form of an individual reply. Hadfield demonstrates that there are alternative ways to engage with fans. Action speaks louder than words. Whether you’re listening to people on social media, gathering feedback using your insight community or talking to customers in person, there is always a way to show people that their input has been heard.
Be interesting and unique
With almost 14 million views, Hadfield’s cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” is a huge hit. It’s just one of the many creative projects that Hadfield worked on while at the ISS. With many videos and media options available, customers something interesting to get their attention.
Not all notables or businesses need to entertain audiences, but individuals or companies in the spotlight so need to provide some sort of value and relevance or risk they getting ignored. Find your shtick and amplify that with creative content.
Hire the best team
Hadfield’s outstanding social media presence wasn’t an accident. His son Evan co-managed his Twitter account from Germany – retweeting others, posting updates on behalf of his dad and reacting to fan comments for 16 hours a day.
The aforementioned “Space Oddity” cover was also produced by a group of talented people. Former Bowie musician Emm Gryner helped Evan put the project together. Just like Hadfield, CMOs need to bring on talent they can count on. It’s not enough that CMOs invest in technology or that they possess leadership skills. Having the right people counts.
Hadfield proves that you don’t have to be on Earth to win over fans. And the good news is, companies and influential business leaders don’t need to go to ISS to get attention from consumers. But by following some of the creative things that Hadfield has done, launching marketing efforts with a successful blast-off won’t be that hard.
Ellie Hutton is senior vice-president, Vision Critical University, Vision Critical