The Instagram Effect

Public land and social media: Understanding the new outdoor recreation paradigm.

Interactive Map

Visitation to Oregon Parks is following a national Trend

The role of social media and the effect on consumer behavior is an emerging field of study. Apps, such as Instagram, expose individuals to new areas with ease, providing location data via hashtags, geolocation markers and visual indicators. The information is instantaneous and can provide current climate, air and park quality, along with many different photos capturing the natural beauty. The rise in visitation in parks in the United States coincides with the proliferation of social media. I intend to examine if social media content can explain the shift in demand.

Who is to blame?

Newspapers and park managers have placed the blame on one major social media platform.

Considering Different Social Media Platforms

When we examine the trend in popularity given different social media platforms, Instagram conincides with the increase visitation. Though other social media sites will likely have an affect on visitation, one thing that seperates Instagram apart form Facebook and Twitter is it's use of visual simulation and user generated organization. Facebook is often critisized for creating social network bubbles because they don't have the ease of searching or sharing information with groups outside your social network. Twitter was the first platform that introduced the hashtag which allowed individual users to share their information with their followers and also orginized their content with others who have also used that hashtag with all others not limited to their own social network. Instagram imployed this same tactic to allow users to share photos with their followers and also tag their photos to share with others outside their social network.

Visitation Growth

A timelapse of increase to certain parks within Oregon. Most of the current growth is being experienced at the coast though other parks scattered throughout the Oregon area are experiencing increases as well

Visitation Distribution

The distribtion of visitation in a given year takes on a bell-curve like shape. Much of the recent research on recreational demand suggest that as climate change may affect visitation patterns, increaing visitaiton by increasing the window of desirable times to recreate.

Regressional Analysis

Observable variable include GDP indicators for Oregon, shocks to travel cost, a climate approach or weather bin approach, Air Quality Index and social media indicators that capture uploads and likes of given hashtags that are park specific.


213 Ballard Extension Hall Corvallis, OR 97331

Applied Economics

Ph.D Student
Oregon State University