The #brownconnect social media campaign started last year as a way to promote BrownConnect, a division of the University’s CareerLAB crafted by President Christina Paxson P’19 as part of an initiative to promote internship opportunities.
“Our goal was to increase high-quality internship and research opportunities for Brown students,” said Director of BrownConnect Aixa Kidd.
BrownConnect provides these opportunities by relying on Brown’s parent and alumni network to pair students with internships and research opportunities.
The idea of creating a social media campaign around BrownConnect began as part of a collaboration between a BrownConnect team and a group of senior students completing the Business, Entrepreneurship and Organization capstone course, Kidd said. The students encouraged BrownConnect to use social media as part of its marketing strategy, and BrownConnect responded by building up its Twitter presence and creating the hashtag #brownconnect as a way to encourage involvement on social media.
As part of this social media-based marketing plan, BrownConnect decided to run a #brownconnect campaign over the summer to reach out to students. Students uploaded pictures of themselves at their internships and research locations alongside text about their summer opportunities. The posts were then promoted on Twitter and Facebook and aggregated on a #brownconnect page on BrownConnect’s website.
Students posted pictures of diverse summer experiences — such as conducting environmental research in the mountains of Costa Rica, posing under the wing of an airplane at the Boeing Company, standing on the field at Gillette Stadium researching sports medicine and on the floor of the Democratic Convention.
The campaign connects students, alums and parents, many of whom provide opportunities that BrownConnect offers to students.
“#brownconnect is not only for us to learn what our students are doing but to encourage other employers to post amazing opportunities for our students,” Kidd said.
Now in its second year, #brownconnect has grown substantially in size, which Kidd credits to the campaign’s taking some time to catch the attention of the wider student body.
“It takes a year for students to recognize it,” Kidd said. “This year was definitely more successful than last year because students now recognize #brownconnect.”
The social media campaign also runs competitions — another recommendation from BEO capstone students. Every month over the summer, BrownConnect awarded the most interesting student submission by sending Meeting Street Cookies to that office. The BrownConnect team has sent Meeting Street cookies all over the globe — to locations including the Bahamas, Hong Kong and California, said Internships Manager Sarah Brown.
But #brownconnect contests aren’t summer-exclusive — the campaign continues into the fall, as it will run a November contest targeted at encouraging student groups and organizations to use the hashtag, Brown said. The contest winners will be awarded a $500 prize for their student group budget.
The continued success of the campaign has encouraged BrownConnect to continue its #brownconnect social media campaigns in the future.
The increase in student engagement with BrownConnect has translated into an increase in alumni engagement with the program as well, Brown said. Alums retweeting and discussing posts encourages job postings and donations for student summer opportunities.