NASA Makes Dwarf Planet a MegaStar on Instagram

On July 14, NASA made history when its New Horizons mission successfully explored Pluto and its moons, and sent pictures back to Earth. It is the first-ever flyby of Pluto - and NASA gave the exclusive to Instagram by sharing the first high-resolution photo with the world on their profile hours before releasing it on their official website.

NASA Makes Dwarf Planet a MegaStar on Instagram

As a child I was taught there were 9 planets, and Pluto was my favorite. That all changed in 2006 when Pluto was demoted to a dwarf planet. But now, the world knows how large this awesome chunk of ice and rock really is which has changed the future of space exploration forever. The New Horizon mission was an incredible feat that took more than nine years and 3 billion miles of space to travel to complete the #Plutoflyby – a true win for science.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) turned to Instagram to showcase the first photo and it was met with an astronomical level of excitement. In fact, that photo enjoyed more than 370,000 interactions and 142,000 likes in the first three hours! Instagram boasts an audience of over 300 million users, and NASA made a deliberate editorial decision to share the photo on the platform to reach and engage with new audiences.

Screenshot taken from “Socialbakers Analytics”:://www.socialbakers.com/products/analytics.

And engage they certainly did – that photo led to acquiring 200,000 new followers on that day alone – and helped them surpass 4.2 million new followers in the past month! They’re gaining over 24,000 new followers every day which goes to show they’re keeping their audience engaged by garnering an average of nearly 200,000 interactions per day.

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NASA’s Art of Storytelling

If you do a quick scroll through NASA’s Instagram, you’ll quickly see what an amazing storyteller they are. They’re posting an average of once per day, but they’re making it count with a high-res picture or high-def video accompanied by a detailed description they’ve shared. Followers actually walk away with having learnt something really cool and interesting about the universe and our planet from afar. Not to mention artistic concepts like this one that give you a new perspective or you know, just an image of Pluto backlit by the sun.

Instagram is a terrific profile extension for media and brands alike because it offers elements of a high-end magazine and does not limit character length. NASA is taking advantage of the space Instagram offers to build a story around the content and educate their followers. Their most popular posts about Pluto had an average of 788 characters each.

When we looked at over 2,000 brand, media, and celebrity profiles and analyzed over 600,000 brand and media posts to get a clear picture of 2014 on Instagram, we found that users don’t mind reading on the platform.

  • A post this long performs the best, overall
  • But, a post this long performs pretty well too. A bit longer, for sure (it can even be this long).
  • The thing is, posts that are this long, or even two or three times longer, still see really good engagement levels. Instagram followers seem to be so enthusiastic about the things they follow that they’re more than willing to read a bit to learn more about the image or video they’re seeing.

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A sincere congratulations from Socialbakers to NASA for the first-ever space mission to explore a world so far from Earth, and to the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland which built, manages, and operates the New Horizons spacecraft for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

Global Editor

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