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Clean energy journalism for a cooler tomorrow

Friday Social: Why Reddit might not be a waste of time for energy professionals

It’s not all narwhals, cat pics and fedoras (with one exception in this article).
By Mike Munsell

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An illustration showing the words Friday Social in neon surrounded by social media avatars and emojis

Canary Media’s Friday Social column explores the intersection of energy, climate and social media. Canary thanks Silverline Communications for its support of the column.

When I first pitched the idea for a column on social media, Canary Managing Editor Eric Wesoff agreed to it under the following conditions: no cats, banjos or riddles.

I’m going to break one of those rules today.

We’re about to dive into Reddit — and to give you an understanding of my qualifications to discuss the topic, I want you to know that my cat Beau (RIP) has hit the front page of Reddit, not once but twice.

So what is Reddit, and why might energy and climate professionals care about it?

At its core, Reddit is a popular content aggregation website where people share things like news stories, images and videos and then rank and discuss them. I mentioned it’s popular, right? It’s No. 8 on the list of most-visited websites in the United States.

All of Canary’s highest traffic days have resulted from an article making it to the front page of Reddit (the same was true for Greentech Media’s highest traffic days).

But what makes Reddit really interesting is that it’s made up of a series of online communities focusing on nearly any topic you can imagine. They’re called subreddits,” all prefaced with an r/​” before their names.

There are a ton of lively communities here talking climate and energy, with both experts and the climate-curious looking to engage, bicker and sometimes learn.

Communities of note include r/​environment, r/​energy, r/​renewableenergy, r/​solar, r/​electricvehicles and r/​climateactionplan. But don’t stop there. Just Google reddit + [your favorite interest or hobby],” and you’ll probably find a thriving online community to check out.

At 15 million strong, one of the biggest Reddit communities that often covers energy topics is called r/​Futurology,” which describes itself as a subreddit devoted to the field of Future(s) Studies and speculation about the development of humanity, technology, and civilization.”

A few weeks back, a Canary article posted there garnered 1,400 comments’ worth of debate among Redditors on the topic of electrifying short-haul trucking. That’s a lot of traction for a pretty wonky subject.

Earlier this year, the moderators of the Futurology subreddit hosted Canary staff for a live Ask Me Anything session with its community, an event known in Reddit circles as an AMA.

I reached out to the moderators for this column to ask them what makes a good AMA.

Probably the No. 1 thing that makes an AMA work is celebrity or name recognition. Superficial, but true,” wrote Reddit moderator u/​lughnasadh. Good thing we have David Roberts on the Canary team.

The moderator went on to say that promoting the AMA outside of Reddit helps, but what can really make for a good AMA is how engaging the person’s subject area is and how much effort they put into answering the questions.”

Like TikTok, Reddit has a huge audience that’s willing to engage and learn, and we need more experts in the clean energy field to join those conversations, whether by sharing articles, engaging in the comment threads or even hosting their own AMAs.

There is so much potential for energy and climate education to help move the needle on global climate action. Through this column, I aim to keep highlighting ways in which energy professionals and communicators can harness social media to help.

Oh, and if you want to hear what I have to say about banjos or riddles, email me.

Silverline Communications, the supporter of this column, is a climatetech and ESG communications firm with deep experience in all facets of the clean economy. Learn more about how Silverline connects clients with stakeholders on social channels and beyond.

Mike Munsell is director of growth at Canary Media.