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Editor's Note
by Kristin Brekke

Communicating ethanol in your community

I recently signed up for Twitter. (See paragraph two, those of you thinking “what in the world is Twitter?”) Hesitating to succumb to yet another technology trend, I really debated. Yet I knew we at the ACE office had found it to be a nice social media tool for telling ethanol’s story, so curiosity prevailed and I logged in under my own “handle.”

Attempted explanation of Twitter: an online social network where you share brief status updates – a maximum of 140 characters – and receive status updates from people you choose to follow. For example, you can find me there as “BrekkeFarm” where I currently follow (receive status updates from) 72 people and 50 people follow me.

I still can’t say whether my use of the 140-character allotment is meaningful (Midwestern modesty sincerely makes me wonder why any 50 people would want to know what I’m doing at any given time), but I have gained an appreciation for that fact that “communities” happen online too, and we ethanol advocates had better be there for the conversation.

If you’re at the grocery store, the coffee shop, or a basketball game, casual conversation might turn to ethanol. Will you speak up if you hear misconceptions? Will you repeat positive ethanol information? The same thing happens online in Twitter, on blogs, or in the comments section at the end of news articles. If we aren’t there to participate, or aren’t willing to speak up, our critics will dominate those conversations – and these folks generally don’t mince words.

In addition to finding people with mutual interest in ethanol and agriculture, one of the nice aspects of Twitter is the ability to share links to positive news about ethanol. Perhaps a few people following my status will read an article I send, and then another may pick up the link and distribute it to their own online community. Someone may read it and gain a new perspective, or at least a contact point for future ethanol-related questions. These efforts do make a difference, one conversation at a time.

Experts who study communication trends report that people today trust “someone like them” rather than politicians and celebrities. This reinforces the importance of and the real power found in “real people” speaking up for ethanol. ACE is working diligently to keep the facts about ethanol circulating in all types of communities, both on- and off-line. Will you join us?

By the way, I’m now up to 52 followers. I’ll try not to let it go to my head.

 
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The American Coalition for Ethanol publishes Ethanol Today magazine each month to cover the biofuels industryís hot topics, including cellulosic ethanol, E85, corn ethanol, food versus fuel, ethanolís carbon footprint, E10, E15, and mid-range ethanol blends.
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