Texas Parks and Wildlife: Using Technology to Connect to the Outdoors

untitled (3)When you think of government agencies you don’t generally think of a hip, cutting-edge social media presence, but Texas Parks and Wildlife has become just that.

Whitney Bishop, social media manager for Texas Parks and Wildlife, and Earl Nottingham, chief photographer, stopped by Mass Communication Week at Texas State on Wednesday to talk about how they use cutting-edge techniques to produce content that draws in larger audiences to not only their social media sites, but their parks as well.

At their presentation Nottingham and Bishop shared how they’ve adapted to using new technology and tactics to gain a larger audience.

The use of drones and iPhones to capture images have changed the way that Nottingham goes about his job. While the laws surrounding using drones in state parks Nottingham has been able to produce some shots that had a huge outreach online by simply using the camera on his iPhone. Nottingham has even had shots taken via his phone that have graced the cover of their magazine.banner

“You don’t need top-dollar cameras to produce viral content,” Nottingham said. “Both higher-end and phone cameras have their own unique benefits.”

Bishop currently helps oversee the 100 plus social media accounts within the Texas Parks and Wildlife. She stressed the need to post relevant information that the general audience will enjoy, and visual content daily.

“Certain things always get good reactions on our sites,” Bishop said. “Crazy weather events, big fish and baby animals just draw in attention.”

Bishop has helped increase the amount of mainstream news outlets usage of Texas Parks and Wildlife pictures and videos. For instance one of their more recent viral posts included the “blood moon”. Bishop used a popular hashtag on the original post that helped it get picked up from outside sources. When it comes to posting online use keywords that will increase the reach of what is posted.

“We were able to just grab onto that hashtag and get ourselves into that conversation,” Bishop said. “We gained a lot of new followers to our twitter and had a 4.5% engagement rate.”

The use of other campaigns such as their “Texas Critter Clash”, which had almost one million reach on Facebook, have created more organic conversations between the Texas Parks and Wildlife and the general public.

“People will just come and post questions to our accounts like; what kind of bird is this?” Bishop said. “They’ll just post the pictures they take at our park. It shows me that people want to see what we post and share their experiences with us”

Texas Parks and Wildlife has given them a big range in freedom regarding what they post on social media.

After the Q&A panel I had the chance to speak with Gabriela Moore, a senior at Texas State University, on her thoughts of the presentation.

“I’m really surprised with the way that they came across,” Moore said. “It makes me think I could work for a company like them.”

 

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