Vermont gives residents reigns to Twitter account

LISA RATHKE Associated Press Published:

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) -- Vermont's tourism department is giving state residents reins to a Twitter account, to get the word out about their state.

Each week, a different Vermonter will take over the Twitter handle THISISVT, posting glimpses of life in Vermont for seven days.

The thinking is that as more people become dependent on consumer-generated content such as product reviews or trip advice, the Twitter postings will work to draw people to Vermont.

"We thought this was really kind of a cool way to create that user-generated review of why Vermont is a great place to live, work and visit," said Steve Cook, deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing.

But Vermont wants to avoid the controversy that Sweden's Twitter account has stirred after a woman posted comments about Jews. To keep the tweets inoffensive and positive, Vermont's tourism department said it is requiring residents to explain why they want to participate and what they would talk about, and to provide the state with their twitter handle.

The account debuted this week with Ken Millman, who lives in Alburgh and works in Burlington, tweeting about his commute, cows, fishing in Lake Champlain and visiting his mother in Quebec.

"I don't care how cliched. I love cows. Love 'em," he posted Thursday with a photo of himself lying in a hammock in a farm field surrounded by cows. Later he posted: "Sure there's a lot of stuff you can do in VT. I must admit, however, that this is also a great place to do nothing at all."

He said he's both exhausted and intrigued by the experience. He never expected to have conversations with people on Twitter.

By the second day, about 50 Vermonters had applied to tweet on the state's behalf, Cook said.

"It is a very broad group of people, which is the really cool thing, from educators to college students to people who work in agriculture who are really interested in spreading the strong Vermont message because they're just proud of our state, and they're active in social media, and they want to really spread the word about why it's such a fantastic place."