Son in Space: How Social Media Helped Send My Son into Space
Colleen Burns 120000C4RP email@example.com | | Tags:  social_media ibm_redbooks space_race_2012 carol_sumner spacex
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On May 31, SpaceX, a commercial space company, is scheduled to bring home the first private space capsule to dock with the International Space Station. This marks a new era in space exploration, with private companies taking over space travel.
Another private space company, Space Adventures, teamed with the Seattle Space Needle to celebrate its 50th anniversary (it was built for the World's Fair in 1962). A large part of the celebration was a nine-month long contest, called the Space Race 2012. The winner of the contest will receive a sub-orbital ride in space.
Fifty-five thousand people applied for the lottery to be able to submit a video entry. Our son, Gregory Schneider, entered the contest and was one of the lucky ones to be chosen. But luck had little to do with what followed.
It's a really cute video (yes – I know I'm completely non-objective on this score). Apparently a panel of judges agreed because they chose it as one of the top 20 videos submitted. The Space Needle posted the 20 best videos on their Facebook page and allowed people to vote for their favorite entry over a six-week period. The authors of the top five videos would go to Seattle for physical and mental challenges to determine the winner.
Naturally, as a supportive parent I sent out emails, posted to Facebook, and tweeted to get people to vote for his entry. My sister even put a flyer in all the cubbies of the kids at her nursery school to get more votes. At first my son did quite well, going into second place. But then he fell to fifth place. He was in danger of falling out of the top five.
Then Gregory engaged an online community called theChive.com. This is a photo-blogging site that gets approximately one million hits a day. They have 9.2 million unique visitors per month and 210,000 Facebook friends. This is community on a huge scale. They also are apparently extremely loyal to fellow “Chivers.”
Gregory asked for that community's support and it came through with flying colors. It was amazing to watch the comments on the article as Chivers “gathered” together in a common cause. Some of the comments were hilarious, but there was a lot of pride coming through as they urged each other to vote for Gregory's entry. Within about 45 minutes of his story being posted on that site, he vaulted into first place in the voting and stayed there through the end of the voting period.
Gregory's ability to gather support from people who had probably never heard of him allowed him to continue in the competition. Thankful for their support, he wore a Chive T-shirt, with the signature on it that says “Keep Calm Chive On,” throughout the physical challenges during the last phase in Seattle.
The last phase of the contest was walking around the halo of the Space Needle (520 feet high) and answering trivia questions about space.
Buzz Aldrin made the announcement of the winner shortly after the last phase ended and Gregory had won! He did extremely well, but what really propelled him there was the support of the online community at theChive.com. This community posted a second story about Gregory's ultimate success, thus providing even more exposure for the Space Needle on a hugely popular site.
Carol Sumner is an Accelerated Value Leader with IBM Collaboration Solutions who specializes in collaboration systems implementation and administration. Carol has recently added the role of social business champion within IBM, helping teams make the most of social media. What she enjoys most about her days is helping people solve problems (and playing golf). You can contact Carol at firstname.lastname@example.org or through Twitter @sumnercl1