On August 25, 2012, the world lost one of its heroes with the passing away at age 82 of American astronaut Neil Armstrong. Social media users did right by the famed space explorer with an enormous volume of mentions within the first 72 hours of the news being broken.
In 1969, Armstrong became the first human to walk on the moon. He was commander of the Apollo 11 lunar module and was accompanied by fellow astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. Armstrong’s historic words after stepping onto the lunar surface have become part of the lexicon of famous quotations; “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Let’s take a quick look at the social media volume surrounding Neil Armstrong from Aug 25 to Aug 27.
Social Media Volume
Mentions of Neil Armstrong across all social media platforms account for a staggering grand total of 2,387,207 total posts between August 25 and 27. Between 2pm and 3pm EST on the day of the news, there were 441,188 total mentions of the moon’s first American visitor.
Sorting the trend line to look only at Twitter mentions, the first mention of the news came before any official confirmation, it was from Bob Collins and this tweet.
Hearing via some aviation circles that Neil Armstrong has passed away. I don’t have it confirmed and haven’t been monitoring the news.
— Bob Collins (@NewsCut) August 25, 2012
Shortly afterwards, NBC’s Cape Canaveral correspondent Jay Barbree confirmed the news and NBC’s verified news account tweeted the story with a tweet which currently sits at over 10,100 retweets.
NBC NEWS confirms: Astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, has died.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 25, 2012
Not Just an American Hero
As a Wapakoneta, Ohio born American, Armstrong was obviously front and center in the hearts and minds of Americans everywhere over the weekend. Social mentions of the man, however, were not limited to the USA. While the US accounts for over 1.4 million mentions, posts came in from 227 other regions as shown below (with the US bar hidden).
Again, while English may dominate the profile (over 1.7 million posts) he was well represented across several languages. His name is mentioned in almost 200,000 posts classed as Spanish alone as shown below (with English removed from the equation).
Social Media Offers Tribute
Looking at some of the most retweeted users around the topic we see Armstrong honored by several celebrities as well as those you’d expect to see such as NASA, Buzz Aldrin himself and the President Barack Obama.
Neil Armstrong was a hero not just of his time, but of all time. Thank you, Neil, for showing us the power of one small step. -bo
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 25, 2012
Neil Armstrong today takes his place in the hall of heroes. The moon will miss its first son of earth.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) August 25, 2012
NASA offers its condolences on today’s passing of Neil Armstrong, former test pilot, astronaut & the 1st man on the moon. Neil was 82.
— NASA (@NASA) August 25, 2012
On behalf of the Aldrin family we extend our deepest condolences to Carol & the entire Armstrong family on Neil’s passing-He will be missed
— Buzz Aldrin (@TheRealBuzz) August 25, 2012
Neil A. Armstrong 1930-2012. Farewell my friend. And now, perhaps more than ever, I bid you godspeed.
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) August 25, 2012
One great moment of silence for mankind. Rest in peace, Neil Armstrong.
— Wil Wheaton (@wilw) August 25, 2012
“This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” ~ Neil Armstrong 8/5/30 – 8/25/12
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) August 25, 2012
My favorite comes from comic book writer Warren Ellis.
Neil Armstrong has died, aged 82. Manually flew a spaceship and landed it on the Moon. Relaunched it with a bit of a pen. Beat that.
— Warren Ellis (@warrenellis) August 25, 2012
As someone who was fascinated with space exploration as a boy (both of my elementary school science projects were models of our solar system), I felt compelled to mention Neil Armstrong as well over the weekend. I shared the below video with my Facebook chums. RIP, Mr. Armstrong.
For more of Salesforce Radian6’s NASA themed coverage, check out our look at the social buzz surrounding this year’s final voyage of the Space Shuttle Discovery. And for a look at how Salesforce Radian6 can help track the buzz around a trending topic on social media, feel free to check out our new section, Social Media Bootcamp.Lastly, learn more about social media monitoring with our ebook, The Guide to Social Media Monitoring.