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Investing in a photo and video strategy with user generated contests and periodic programming has allowed this government agency to compete with big brands and destinations in the travel world.

During October’s government shutdown of national parks and monuments, the U.S. Department of the Interior often took to social media to communicate to guests who had been turned away. It was a rare, yet welcome turn by a government agency.

It wasn’t a one-time event, though. The Department of the Interior manages all of the U.S.’s national parks and monuments, and actively uses social media to promote destinations and activities with an enthusiasm rarely seen in government agencies. It operates on Twitter and Instagram as ‘USInterior’.

On May 1st, USInterior published the winner of the “Share the Experience” annual user-generated contest across its social media channels. This collaborative effort — between the National Park Foundation, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Department of Interior — garnered more than 17,600 accepted entries. They say the entries were viewed by 133,174 unique visitors for a total of 1.7 million photo views.

It was a good week for USInterior, as it also made Time Magazine’s 40 Best Twitter Feeds of 2014.

By and large, USInterior’s content strategy seeks to motivate and inform the nature lover and adventure traveler with awe-inspiring photos and noteworthy news clips. According to SkiftIQ, they had a tremendous first week of May on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

For four days straight, they gained 2,500 Instagram followers/day, a 400% spike over their average followers/day. On Twitter, their followers jumped by 250% to 1,065 followers on Cinco de Mayo. Although Facebook page likes did not soar as much as the two other accounts, a single day 40% increase was still noteworthy.

Overall, USInterior is the fifth-most followed Instagram account tracked on SkiftIQ, just behind Walt Disney World and ahead of Anthony Bourdain and Lonely Planet.

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Brand Snapshot:


U.S. Department of the Interior Instagram Followers:


U.S. Department of the Interior Twitter Followers:


First episode of U.S. Department of the Interior’s “This Week At Interior” on YouTube:

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Tags: national parks, skiftiq, social media, youtube

Photo credit: Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan. "Share the Experience" winning photo. Courtney Kotewa / US Department of Interior Instagram

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