Use Facebook to plan your next park vacation

Municipalities are always feeling a financial squeeze, and the fallout from the financial crisis has only made an already grim norm even worse. It’s hard enough to get money for maintenance, let alone marketing. So, how can you get the info you need to plan your next park trip?

Try Facebook.

According to Inside Facebook, cities, counties and states are flocking to the social networking site to promote their parks to locals and prospective visitors from across the country and around the world. Most of the pages created, says Inside Facebook, focus on photos and Wall content, with few using notes and none really relying on Facebook’s discussion tools.

Most of the pages belonged to cities, though some states and counties were represented. Interestingly, larger destinations, such as New York City, Los Angeles County and Oregon haven’t experienced the level of success seen among smaller or less prominent locations. The little guy, it seems, already has a tight community feel that translates easily into a social media presence. Monterey, California’s page, for example, boasts 222 fans of a 61,000-person municipality. Meanwhile, Los Angeles County’s Department of Parks and Recreation Facebook page has only 55 fans. The county is home to 10 million people.Cost is among the reasons for the migration to Facebook. Using existing photos and content to populate a page brings no incremental cost to a medium that’s already free. Says Dan Costley, Monterey, California Park Recreation Superintendent: Literally we were told, ‘If you can borrow something from another department, cut back.’ You can look at something like Facebook and say, ‘Nobody is charging us for this.'” He continues, “So if it helps us save money and send the message to the right people, that’s always going to help us.”

Need some ideas? Check out these local park Facebook pages:

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[Photo: Flickr | Buck Forester]