Monitoring visitor dynamics and their nature-based experiences is an important dimension in the conservation management of protected areas. In the current digital age, the content analysis of social media information is being increasingly used in such a context. However, research testing whether social media content analysis provides similar information to that obtained from stated preference methods is lacking. We aimed to identify differences in the classification of tourist profiles and nature-based experiences, both from online social surveys and photo content analysis. Our approach targeted Flickr's social media users visiting two Biosphere Reserves in Southern Europe: Doñana and Sierra Nevada. We manually classified the main content of Flickr photos considering different categories of tourist profiles and nature-based experiences. Concurrently, we distributed online surveys to Flickr users responsible for those photos and gathered their self-stated classification of tourist profiles and experiences. Finally, we compared the classification results from both content analysis and online surveys using multiple congruence metrics and tests. Overall, we found both matches and mismatches between the results from content analysis and online surveys depending on the categories of tourist profiles and their experiences. “Landscape and species” was the only category with consistent matches between content analysis and online surveys for both tourist profiles and nature-based experiences. We suggest that conclusions based on content analysis or online surveys alone can lead to incomplete information. Instead, the adoption of both content analysis and online surveys should provide complementary perspectives for the monitoring of nature's cultural capital.