Tuesday, November 11, 2008

39,014 mourn the death of a viral marketing phenom from Mars

Photo from abc.net.au
On the microblogging network, Twitter, thousands of people (aka Twitterers) are mourning the passing of NASA's Mars Phoenix lander, which NASA says has gone silent on the surface of Mars and is almost certainly dead.

It's like an online funeral.

Last night and today, MarsPhoenix's followers were writing eulogies. None quite as poetic as this one, perhaps, by @AlexisMadrigal who wrote:

"@MarsPhoenix is finally frozen on the Martian arctic plain. Veni, vidi, fodi. RIP: http://snurl.com/5amfx 4:35 PM Nov 10th from twhirl in reply to MarsPhoenix"

It's not surprising. Updates by MarsPhoenix, written in the first person by NASA's Veronica McGregor, won more than 39,014 followers over the past six months.

With the simple bio, "I dig Mars! " McGregor launched MarsPhoenix, NASA's official Twitter feed, without really knowing how it worked.

"I set up the account, and one of the things you have to fill out is the bio, on Twitter; I was setting this up on a Saturday at home and I kind of jokingly went, "I dig Mars." I put it in the first person, but I hadn't really convinced myself I would do the postings in first person, because I thought people would think it was silly," McGregor said in this interesting interview with UrbanHonking.

What does this mean to the average marketer? Check out what McGregor says about Twitter. Her comments show just how practical Twitter can be to any organization.

Unlike NASA's usual big budget launches, her Twitter account was done with no red tape, on the quiet and on the cheap. It cost nothing.

Twitter's 140 character updates were something that could fans could read and respond to anywhere anytime (on their mobiles, at the beach, on vacation ...) and the author could write anywhere. It didn't take the organizational muscle and will that a blog requires.

"The thing that appealed to us the most about Twitter was that people could actually receive the updates on their mobile devices, and our landing on Mars was going to take place over the three-day holiday weekend, over Memorial Day. I knew from being a former journalist that during a three-day weekend, readership and viewership of news just plummets. People are on vacation, they're not paying attention. So one of the appeals of Twitter was the fact that we could actually post updates for the landing and people could get those anywhere they were, even if they were at a picnic."

Well done Veronica.

Posted by Internet Marketing Report Online editor Julie Power ... follow me on Twitter at JuliePower


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