Arkansas State Parks Finds Social Media a Good Way to Stay in Touch with Park Lovers

Arkansas State Parks finds Social Media a good way to stay in touch with park lovers
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a Blog are the latest park successes
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Joe Jacobs, Marketing and Revenue Manager
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism


It may seem that social media is a relatively new phenomenon but according to Joe Jacobs, Marketing and Revenue manager for Arkansas State Parks, it’s been around for centuries. “Some of the earliest forms of social media can be seen in the pictograph, or cave drawings found in Petit Jean State Park,” Jacobs said.

Today, new technology and media reaches far more people than simple cave drawings ever could. Arkansas State Parks has found Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to be great tools to interact with park users.

Last year Arkansas State Parks started using Facebook to interact with park lovers and what started as just a few hundred “friends” soon turned into 5,000 by the spring of 2009. “At that point we were forced to start a ‘fans’ page since the Facebook friends’ page only allows 5,000 friends,” said Jacobs. Within a few months the fan page topped over 17,000 fans and is showing no sign of slowing down. Of the approximately 25 state park systems across the country using Facebook, Arkansas has, by far, the most fans. “The Facebook page has been instrumental in conveying special notices, lodge and cabin room openings and other information to park users,” said Greg Butts, director of Arkansas State Parks. “It is a great way to get out important information quickly to a lot of people,” Butts said.

In the early part of 2009, Arkansas State Parks began connecting with followers through Twitter (http://twitter.com/ARStateParks), a social networking site which allows 140 character status updates. Arkansas State Parks currently has over 4,500 followers and uses the service to provide updates on events and programs going on in the parks.

According to Jacobs, “The interesting thing about Twitter and Facebook is their ability to both convey information and create a dialogue with those receiving the information. Not only have we gained valuable insight into the needs of our customers and guests, we have also gotten wonderful stories and photos from them. These are great customer service tools.”

On the site you will find trivia questions, links to blog stories about the parks and information on upcoming events and programs. “We put a lot of links to information that is on our official Web site (http://www.ArkansasStateParks.com) and other sites within the state,” said Jacobs. “It’s very content rich.”

To add more content Arkansas State Parks started a Web log or “blog” page, (http://www.ArkansasStateParks.com/blog). The articles or posts on the blog are written by a team of over 20 park interpreters and other staff. Visitors are encouraged to comment on the stories. “The writers convey interesting experiences, natural and cultural history and provide a different prospective into life in an Arkansas state park,” Jacobs said.

The social media campaigns have been so successful that Arkansas State Parks, through their partnership with the Arkansas Broadcasters Association, has produced its first television commercial promoting the Facebook page. The ad encourages viewers to share their state park memories and then displays the Web site address for the Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/StateParksofArkansas). The ad also features some early 1960’s state park footage that reminds the viewer of older memories.

This ad and others can be viewed on the Arkansas State Park YouTube page (http://www.youtube.com/user/ArkansasStateParks) another social media site utilized by the state parks.

For further information, contact: Joe Jacobs, marketing and revenue manager, Arkansas State Parks, 1 Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201. Phone: 501-682-6923.
E-mail: joseph.jacobs@arkansas.gov.