I recently travelled out West—California to be exact. As a tourist in central California, I did classic activities in San Francisco and along the coast. As an idiot southerner, I went to Yosemite National Park at night in a snow storm. It was there that I was exposed to the resources of the United States National Park Service. Otherwise, my entire family would probably have died. Dramatic statement yes, but honestly very true. The harrowing experience as well as the prevalence of the park service out West led me to look into the service’s digital presence.
Writer and historian Wallace Stegner once said that the “national parks are the best idea we ever had.” So now, the United States National Parks Service brands itself as “America’s Best Idea.” Known for some of the most beautiful locations in the country and even the world, NPS fills its social media platforms with pictures of diverse landscapes across the U.S. While many companies face obstacles in encouraging customers to publicize for them across social media (view my blog on social media backdrops), NPS doesn’t need incentives for people to post pictures of their parks. Most people visit national parks for that very reason, to experience beautiful, protected landscapes and capture pictures.
That isn’t to say that NPS doesn’t do a great job of digital marketing. The job is not done for them. Their social media platforms engage users with beautiful pictures accompanied by tidbits of relevant park history. Their #FindYourPark campaign connects followers with national parks and outdoor activities that they may enjoy. Research done by park rangers, park employees, and partnered environmental organizations serves to provide constant engaging content that explores the history as well as future of the National Park Service.
I think their best digital engagement and customer awareness rests in their park websites. Going to a national park that is in a harsher environment or father away is a major obstacle for first-time or inexperienced visitors. Visiting a national park can seem more like an unrealistic bucket list item than an actual possibility. To overcome this obstacle as well as serve experienced adventurers, each national park website contains pictures and detailed information of available reservations, hiking details, possible winter activities, and road conditions. I think the National Park Service does an incredible job of engaging people across social media platforms and serving visitors and ultimately the parks they protect through their digital resources.