Guest Editorial: Seeing the Artistic Forest Through the Instagram Trees; How Important the Intersection of Art & Social Media Is For Tourism, Economic Development

By Jessica Troy —

Instagram is full of millions of selfies.

It’s what is behind those selfies and Instagram posts that is becoming more and more important to tourism, economic development and the experiences of visitors and locals.

An abstract mural or unique sculpture or desert visuals in Scottsdale or other parts of metro Phoenix can be economic and tourism drivers through Instagram and Facebook posts and likes. Instagram has more than 1 billion active users. Drawing the right attention from the right influencer can have more economic and image impact than conventional advertising and public relations.

There is no better place showing the economic and tourism impact of Instagram than Old Town Scottsdale. There you find groups of people looking for the perfect backdrop for their photos and posts at the ‘Love’ sign or along the Scottsdale Waterfront.

“My friends and I love to dress up and go to Scottsdale’s Art District because it has some great backgrounds for an Instagram picture,” said Jillian Verlade, a student who lives in Scottsdale. “I would say that public art has become more sought out since it became a trend on social media.”

Public art as well as Instagram worthy backdrops can draw even more millennials and tourists including some who might otherwise think to visit Scottsdale or metro Phoenix or even explore their own backyards.

“Instagram has definitely made me love art and scenic views,” said Lexi Fitzgerald. “I never cared to go out of my way to see art until I would look on social media and see these beautiful photos of places just 20 minutes away from me.”

‘Instagram-able’ places can also show creatives, techies and professionals another side of Arizona they might not know from media coverage and politics. They can help keep more young people here if they feel the region is creative, diverse and welcoming. Art also does that for Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row and the Mesa Arts Center.

Social media can further show cool desert visuals at Taliesin West or Gilbert’s Riparian Preserve. How many local have never visited those unique venues let alone tourists and those who might not otherwise consider Phoenix for a trip or job search?

Forward thinking tourism promoters, the arts community and creative businesses such as architects and restaurants understand the power of art, social media and influencers. It’s time for zoning codes, policy makers and other businesses including real estate developers to get on board too.

We’ve seen the importance of art embraced in Scottsdale and it is paying dividends.

Public art is easy in creative hubs such as Old Town Scottsdale or Roosevelt Row. It needs to be important in other parts of the region and increasingly important to how the region is marketed and presented.

A mural in downtown Scottsdale
Mesa Arts Center
Scottsdale Waterfront