Five Reasons the National Park Service is Dominating Social Media

Five Reasons the National Park Service is Dominating Social Media

On March 1, 1872, the first U.S. national park was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant. Just over 143 years later, Yellowstone National Park has been joined by 58 other preservation areas, totaling approximately 84.4 million acres nationwide.

Despite now controlling 59 national parks run by 59 individual social teams, the National Park Service showcases defined goals, a consistent aesthetic, and a touch of humanization that makes their pages some of my favorites to follow across all platforms. This strategy — no doubt engaging for fans — makes these parks inspirational examples for other brands and foundations.

 

Glacier from Glacier National Park.

1. Connect

Glacier National Park is just one of many parks that does a fantastic job humanizing their page in order to bridge the gap between the National Park Service and its biggest fans. Every post is followed by a set of initials that tie to a page on their website dedicated to connecting their loyal followers to their team.

Why Does it Matter?

Your audience is exposed to nearly 5,000 messages each day, and it’s important to make yours stand out. Consumers like myself enjoy knowing Glacier National Park is a community sharing messages written by a person with morals and interests rather than an automated machine.

 

Sunrise over Yellowstone National Park.

2. Provide Value

One of the most recent posts on Yellowstone National Park’s Facebook page (from April 14) tells where to check road conditions for spring and the specific date all roads are open to the public. This single post has over 4,116 likes, 373 shares, and 58 comments. Why is it so successful? It provides value to the audience in an accessible manner.

What are your followers looking for? How do they connect with your brand? For national parks it’s important to share when it’s open for the holidays, where wildlife was last located, or what the weather is expected to do for those upcoming family vacations.

Why Does it Matter?

Putting your audience first shows that you care for and respect them. Give the people what they want. Consumers follow brands, foundations, or businesses with the expectation that some posts will enrich their life. Sharing tips, deals, hours, and events on social provides a value to your fans that is delivered straight to their fingertips.

 

"Find your Park" text overlaid on a photo of a sunrise with silhouettes of people.

3. Coordinate

It’s obvious that America’s national parks coordinate with one another to promote the same Find Your Park campaign, share the same profile picture, upload high resolution photos, and reach out to community influencers to increase credibility. This is extremely difficult and deserves a round of applause.

Why Does it Matter?

As Hurrdat’s creative manager, I’m a big fan of aesthetically pleasing graphics, high resolution images, and brand consistency, but I’m not the only one. It’s important to implement a cohesive campaign and stick to the identity you’ve determined for your brand. It builds brand loyalty among consumers, and it’s like casually screaming, “HEY, we’re a reliable organization, and you’ve found our authentic account!”

 

Sunset at the Grand Teton National Park.

4. Communicate

Grand Teton National Park maintains a Twitter account with relatable and timely community management. Some tweets respond with a simple “<3” while others are translated to another language. This shows they’re invested, they’re real, and they’re available to answer your questions or retweet your praises.

Why Does it Matter?

Social media is often viewed as a secondary source to the purchasing process and leaned on as a reliable platform to gather true opinions. This is your one chance to directly interact with your audience and manage your online reputation before negativity spreads like wildfire.

 

The night sky full of stars with the silhouette of an arch with a person standing underneath.

5. Be Transparent

The National Park Service as a whole does a tremendous job proclaiming their vision for the organization and consistently pushing their goals across social media. They call themselves “America’s Best Idea” and describe it as an organization that “cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.”

When browsing the other national park pages on social, I understand additional goals to preserve the land, foster a community of those who care about the environment, and educate the general public of each park’s importance.

Why Does it Matter?

If an audience knows your goals, they know how they can help, and they’re more likely to share with others too. Which reminds me to share something great:

The National Park Service is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2016 and they’ve invited their audience (that’s us) to participate in the year-long celebration. Joseph Gordon-Levitt just recently supported the campaign along with Michelle Obama, Bill Nye, and many more. To learn more about it, check out the video below! I certainly thought it was neat.

 

Hurrdat is a Lincoln, Neb. digital marketing agency specializing in social media and content marketing. The company was founded in 2010 and merged with B² Interactive of Omaha, Neb. in 2014 bringing even more digital marketing specialties to both firms’ clients. Together they provide a full range of social media, SEO, and website development services to both national brands and local clients. The companies employ more than 75 people in Nebraska and have won multiple awards for their business efforts, company culture, and clients’ campaigns.

  • Janet Falk

    Sounds like the NPS responsiveness has improved in past two years. My tweets to get tips on hikes in Great Smokies NP failed to get official answers. Local hikers were helpful in suggesting classic and less-known hikes.

    • Brandi Slobodnik

      Hey Janet, thanks for your comment. We’re happy to see the National Park Service is stepping up their game.

      In our experience at Hurrdat, it’s often easy for a few messages or questions to be missed when managing a big community like the 4,000 Twitter followers of @GreatSmokyNPS. Try messaging directly and seeing if the response is better next time!

  • Bill O’Donnell

    There are 402 national parks. You might want to do better research.

    • Tim Matthews

      There are 58 national parks. You might want to do better research.

      • Kristine Brunsman

        There are 408 sites administered by the National Park Service. 59 of these are designated “national park” as opposed to national seashore, national historical park, national monument, etc.

        • Tim Matthews

          59? Is there a new-ish one? It used to be 58.

          • http://rscottjones.com Scott Jones

            Pinnacles was renamed “National Park” in the last few years.

      • Ryan

        There is no difference between a National Park, Monument, Seashore, etc. They are all apart of the National Park Service, protected by National Park Service Rangers. I would think that the consistent branding you mentioned would have given that fact away.

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