CODY, WYO. — Yellowstone National Park is always among the perennial favorite tourist destinations in Wyoming, so it should come as no surprise that it’s the most popular location in the state among Instagram users.
The photo-sharing social network released its 2015 location data to Time magazine, which this week listed Yellowstone as the top Wyoming destination in a state-by-state roundup of “the most Instagrammed places in America.”
With more than 400 million accounts, Instagram is a leading social media platform that lets users edit and share smartphone photos with friends and followers. The app uses GPS location data passed along by smartphones to “geo-tag” each image, allowing it to set coordinates for photos posted by its users.
Yellowstone has seen a record attendance of more than 4 million visitors so far this year, and Instagram has enjoyed phenomenal growth over the past few years. The Facebook-owned platform is becoming increasingly popular with travelers who want to show off their vacation exploits, as well as brand marketers looking to leverage it as a marketing tool. The top global Instagram spot for 2015 is Disneyland, in California, which typically sees 16 million annual visitors. It is followed in the top 5 by New York’s Times Square and Central Park, along with the Eiffel Tower in Paris and Disney World in Florida. Compared to major consumer brands and much of the general public, the National Park Service came to the Instagram party relatively late, launching a Yellowstone account just over a year ago.
Since then, @YellowstoneNPS has posted only 279 photos, mainly featuring landscapes and wildlife images, along with some historical photos and pictures of visitors. Yellowstone’s Instagram account has just under 100,000 followers, which may seem like a lot, but lags well behind the park’s more than 660,000 Facebook fans.
Most national parks are dwarfed on Instagram and other social media platforms compared to major consumer brands like Nike, which has more than 30 million Instagram followers, or even Starbucks, with 6.8 million followers.
But Yellowstone will likely have a more active presence on Instagram and other online platforms next year, under a new plan to prioritize and unify its public communications.
That’s what Jody Lyle, the park’s newly hired head of strategic communications, said in October during a meeting with Cody tourism industry leaders.
Lyle said part of that effort will include advice for drivers on how to navigate wildlife jams and other choke points where visitors are crowding for the perfect photo—angling for just the right shot to share on Instagram.
Contact Ruffin Prevost at 307-213-9818 or [email protected].