Oversized green stickers will be plastered in 10 spots around the city this summer encouraging people to take selfies in the name of spreading some love for Helena.
The so-called “selfie spots” were brought in by Helena Tourism Alliance Programs Coordinator Anna Strange, who saw the practice catch on in bigger cities and decided to launch it in Montana’s capital.
“People want to talk about Helena,” Strange said. “There’s so much to do here, and I think that’s a big part of the selfie spots.”
Each spot features a historic Helena landmark or tourist attraction in the background, and all of them encourage visitors to tag the picture #helenamt. The idea, Strange said, is to engage people through social media and showcase what Helena has to offer.
The first spot went up during the first week of June and so far six selfie spots have been placed around town at Reeder’s Alley, the Women’s Mural, the Capitol building, inside the Montana Historical Society, by the Herd Bull sculpture outside MHS and on the deck of Blackfoot River Brewing Co. looking at Helena’s historic Fire Tower.
Four more are coming at Helena Regional Airport, the carousel in the Great Northern Town Center, the Bullwhacker statue and the newsboy statue on the Downtown Walking Mall.
Strange said a lot of what the tourism alliance does is manage social media marketing for Helena, and she’s seeing the engagement increase.
“I think that the perception that Helena isn’t involved in social media is not accurate. I think it's very involved,” Strange said.
According to numbers provided by the tourism alliance, its "I Know Helena" Facebook page has 16,124 likes, nearly double the 8,259 it had in June 2014. The number of Twitter followers for its account has jumped to 953, up by almost 300 people from the year before.
The alliance’s Instagram page was also up from 179 followers in June 2014 to 418 followers in June 2015.
Strange said that given the increased engagement, it would be “a disservice” to Helena to not be on as many platforms as possible.
Bruce Whittenberg, director of the Montana Historical Society, said he thought the selfie spots were exciting and he’s seen some people use them already.
“We’re pleased to be a part of that and we’re pleased to be considered one of Helena's great attractions,” Whittenberg said.
Most of all, the selfie spots are supposed to be fun.
It’s important to remember that museums are meant to be fun for visitors, Whittenberg said. He added if people enjoy using social media to communicate, why not put in selfie spots?
The selfie spots are just one tool, Strange said. She said the tourism alliance is always researching for new and successful ways to market Helena.
She wouldn’t say what’s coming next, but she pointed to the geocaching efforts that landed Helena as the Best of the Road for geocaching by Rand McNally Road Atlas.
When winter hits, the weather will likely erode away the spots. Come spring of next year, selfie spots may go up again in new or expanded locations.