Michelle Sullivan Communications

Welcome home Commander Hadfield: Canada’s social media astonaut comes back to Earth

Canadian Chris Hadfield, who commanded the International space station for nearly five months, has made his mark in the social media space — no pun intended — as the first astronaut to fully leverage the power of social networks as a way to share his passion for science and space travel with the world. The Canadian Space Agency has literally never had an ambassador with as great a reach. Astronauts like Marc Garneau, Roberta Bondar, Julie Payette and Steve MacLean, though household names, had to rely on traditional media outlets to get their messages across. With the help of a team that includes his 28-year old son Evan, back on Earth, Chris Hadfield is able to communicate directly with Canadians and space enthusiasts around the world.

There are important lessons to be learned from Commander Hadfield — and I’m not just talking musically. Whether you’re the community manager for a startup, small business or huge business, take note:

1. Be creative: Hadfield’s science experiments and renditions of famous songs meant he was able to stand out from the crowd. Granted, he has the advantage of being able to show us what happens to water in zero-gravity, but you have a similar advantage as a niche expert. You just need to identify the opportunity and present it in a way that will capture the attention and imagination of your own target audience.

How does this apply back here on Earth?

Owens-Illinois is one of my favourite examples of how a B2B brand has managed to leverage social media in a creative way in order to position itself as an industry leader. Its Glass Is Life campaign captures the beauty of glass across a variety of social networks (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest). Proof that B2B social media marketing doesn’t need to be boring.

This is the first in a series of 7 ways social media types can draw inspiration from Chris Hadfield’s social media experiment. Seven — a lucky number for Commander Hadfield, wishing him a safe return to Earth. I suspect his feet won’t touch the ground for quite awhile after his spacecrafts lands!

Note: this post was written prior to … but for technical reasons published after … Commander Hadfield’s safe landing.