A Selfie a Day – My NASA Talk

Yep, you read that correctly. I recently gave the keynote address at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston for their Data Science Day, and the premise was (believe it or not) selfies. No, I cannot even believe they wanted ME to talk. I certainly felt honored to be among some super smart folks, and I will always be thankful.

I hope I have not lost you yet. R code is involved! A lot!

Since I really want to get to the point and not induce too much boredom, I will dive right in. You are free to email me if you want more info on the code etc.

In my job as a TV meteorologist there is increasing pressure to do “do well” on social media. We are even rated on how well our Facebook/Twitter accounts do. (It’s a company not unlike Neilsen for TV ratings.)

I post a lot of stuff to my Facebook ‘fan’ page including weather forecasts, pics of my cat, and you guessed it selfies. Yep, seems dumb and narcissistic, I get it. However, on average, selfies reach more people than weather forecasts and other “mundane” Facebook posts.

Don’t believe me? Well, just keep reading I guess.

I scraped the last 1,000 of my Facebook posts via the Rfacebook package.

barplot of post types

We have about 756 photos in this dataset. No, not all are selfies. Approx 30% of those photos are selfies. How do I know if they are selfies? Well, I had to do a little work for that.

I wrote some code that basically takes each photo and opens up a new tab in my browser that contains a the jpeg of the image on that Facebook post.

code for user form

Yes, this did take some time (maybe an hour) to go through each of 700ish photos to mark them as selfie or non-selfie, but it wasn’t that bad.

On the ‘average’ (median is better since there were some extreme outliers but anyway), selfies perform better than ‘regular’ photos (like radar images or even photos of me that are not selfies.)

selfie distribution

I have been trying to post at least one selfie a day, since they get great ‘reach’ (# of people who saw the post). And, crazy enough I have grown my page quite a bit.

page growth

I have grown my page by approx 112% since March 2016 (about 1 year).

I know ‘selfie’ has a negative connotation (selfish, self-absorbed etc), but ya know I have found that it really gets people engaged with you.

I of course still post important weather information (that’s my job after all!), but throwing in a selfie that shows my personality is one of the reasons people visit my page. They can get weather info anywhere, but folks want to connect. And I like to interact with folks too. Win win.

For code or other questions just hit me up. I didn’t want this post to be too boring or bogged down with R code. Peace and Love.


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