How It Works

Interior Department soars on Instagram

Image courtesy of USInterior Instagram: ManyGlacier is considered the heart of Glacier National Park in Montana. Massive mountains, active glaciers, sparkling lakes, hiking trails and abundant wildlife make this a favorite of visitors and locals alike.

(U.S. Interior / Instagram)

Everyone wants in on social media, but good intentions aren’t enough to shield an agency from gaffes or clunky management of accounts.

The Interior Department has no such problems with its Instagram account, which pumps out stunning photos of America’s public lands and has more than half-a-million followers.

Instagram is a natural medium for showcasing what Interior does, said Rebecca Matulka, the department’s senior digital media strategist. “We manage such a large swath of our public land, but most people probably don’t know that.”

Matulka’s secret weapon is a robust pipeline of photos to choose from: the social media accounts of national parks around the country, photos from Instagram users in which Interior is tagged and a Flickr account that Matulka set up, to name a few.

More from FCW

FCW Magazine (June 30, 2015)

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The Instagram account, which had more than 1,800 posts as of press time, is meant to inspire American and foreign tourists to travel to the country’s natural wonders, she said.

Although Instagram lacks some of the analytics for measuring traffic that other platforms have, Matulka said she has noticed a recent uptick in comments in languages other than English — a sign that the department’s photos are going viral globally.

Interior has also used the Instagram account to make its case for funding in tight fiscal times. “Every dollar invested in the National Park Service returns $10 to the U.S. economy” reads a caption below a photo of one of the Cathedral Lakes at Yosemite National Park.

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.

Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.


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