Hot shots

Social media tips to save your summer

When the rain-driven #superbloom hit the internet earlier this year, hordes hit the hiking trails. There were stories of crowds overrunning small towns, clogging roads, leaving behind litter and destroying the landscape.

“Sometimes we aren’t able to promote stuff for that very reason,” said Faith Lopez, CEO of Faithmari, a social media management company that runs the accounts for Visit Sacramento and a number of other regional organizations.

The Sacramento area doesn’t boast too many Instagram hot spots. There are a few popular attractions, including Tower Bridge, Foresthill Bridge and the Clementine Dam. When the posting is not in one specific location and is more general, such as photos of almond blossoms, social media etiquette is less problematic, said Lopez. And it’s become less of an issue as people have become more aware.

Still, as you inevitably post your summer adventures on social media, practice good digital etiquette. Here are four tips from Leave No Trace, an organization that promotes ethical use of the outdoors:

Follow the rules

If a sign tells you “no drones,” then don’t use drones. If it says “no trespassing,” then don’t treat the spot like it’s public. While you’re at it, extend your social media politeness to everything else you do in nature. If you’re supposed to wear a life vest, pack out your garbage, keep pets on leash, stay on the trail or not leave cars idling, then do those things too. (And if you do break the rules, maybe don’t post photos of it.)

Stay on trails and roads

Even if you could get a really cool shot by standing in the middle of traffic on Tower Bridge or traipsing through a meadow and flattening all the flowers, don’t. Same with parking. Don’t just pull your car off the road if there’s not a place for it. Think of the damage if everyone does it for the Insta.

Tag thoughtfully

“The whole point of what social media does is bring awareness of a location,” Lopez says. That’s part of the value. But there are also small, hidden gems that aren’t necessarily ready to go viral, such as the natural rock pools Lopez inadvertently promoted. That just means thinking before you geotag a location and keeping in mind how public you want to be.

Post smart

Everything we put online sends out a message to the people who see it. For example, when Lopez posts about boating or raftings—one of the most popular activities when it gets hot—she wants to use that opportunity to remind people the rivers will be particularly full and dangerous this summer.

That’s also why she doesn’t like to promote photos that appear before a treacherous climb. The concern is both safety and liability. She says she doesn’t want to promote hiking under the Foresthill Bridge, for example, if people are going to see that photo and then do the hike without being prepared. And for good reason: once she posted a photo of some natural rock water pools, which were on private property, and people overran the spot, littering and leaving garbage.

Hey, here’s another tip: Just don’t be that person, OK?