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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.


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.


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.

My favorite comes from comic book writer Warren Ellis.


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.