Meet Stephanie Schierholz

Who are you and what do you do?

I am the social media manager at NASA Headquarters in Washington. I run and manage the agency’s flagship social media accounts, including @NASA and its 1.7 million followers, Facebook and the more than 700,000 fans there, and the Foursquare presence. In this position, we’ve implemented a series of NASA Tweetups across the agency, giving our Twitter fans the opportunity to come behind-the-scenes at events that range from two hours to two days in length and feature NASA scientists, engineers, astronauts, senior leadership and cool things like rocket launches. As social media manager, I also coordinate with the social media leads at the agency’s 10 centers across the country, as well as with institutional offices like the CIO’s office, the general counsel, archives and records management, etc.I am the social media manager

Where are you from?

I grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and currently live and work in Washington, DC. I’ve also lived in Missouri, New York, England, and Germany.

What do you like about social media?

I love that social media allows us to engage with our fans and followers in a way we never could before. We can answer people’s questions and respond to their comments. We can see what interests them (or doesn’t). Previously, we would broadcast information and expect people to come to our website for more details. With social media, we can share information where they are, in their Twitter and Facebook streams, when they check in to places on Foursquare, and more.

What is it like working at NASA?

Working at NASA is a dream come true for me. I wanted to be an astronaut (but I had poor vision), and I’ve always loved space exploration. Being a part of it is an incredible experience. That said, it is also a government bureaucracy, and, like any large organization, it can be tedious to wade through. But it’s worth it.

What is the most important lesson you have learned regarding new media?

The most important lesson I’ve learned is that it is all about engagement, and you are building ongoing relationships, so you have to treat all your posts that way. That means, you have to be present, you have to be there. You have to be willing to answer questions and clarify comments and admit mistakes and not over-sell things. You can’t say every day, “This is the most amazing thing ever” because after a few days of that, people, won’t believe you. But the engagement has its own reward – you get instant and honest (sometimes painfully so) feedback, you get to know the people who are interested in what you do, you build a community of people who will alternately defend or admonish you when you need it. It’s very rewarding.  

What kind of advice would you offer someone trying to pursue social media as a profession?

Many of the principles that make you successful with social media are the same that make you successful as a communications professional, so learn the profession. Be a student of communications theory and practice. Be willing to try and experiment with new things and evaluate them critically as you assess whether they are worth your time and resources. You learn by doing, so start using the tools in which you want to be an expert. If you need a way to get going, look for non-profits that could use your help and volunteer.

How do we stalk you?

Website: http://www.nasa.gov and you can find all NASA’s social media sites at http://www.nasa.gov/connect
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/NASATelevision
Facebook: http://facebook.com/NASA
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/NASA & http://www.twitter.com/schierholz

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