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BearShare connects alums to campus life

Incentive-based program encourages Brown community members to share U. social media

In an effort to engage and connect the Brown community through social media, the Alumni Relations Office and the Brown Annual Fund launched BearShare, an incentive-driven program to share Brown’s various social media posts.

The program, which launched this past April, boasts about 200 ambassadors today, said Allison Bryant, innovation coordinator for the Brown Annual Fund’s direct marketing and participation team and member of the managing team for BearShare. Ambassadors are members of the Brown community, most of whom are alums, who share and interact with posts on their personal social media accounts and earn points for each interaction. Earned points go toward prizes, like a thank-you call from a student or a gift pack including Brown merchandise.

Members of the Brown community can become ambassadors by signing up for the program online. Then, BearShare sends news blasts to ambassadors with easy share options. This saves people the extra step of having to copy and paste an interesting piece of news from the University’s website, writing a description for it and then posting it on their social network accounts, Bryant said.

Marguerite Joutz ’15, assistant to the president for student affairs and special projects, also said she believes BearShare has made the process of sharing stories from Brown easier because rather than scrolling through newsfeeds and chancing upon stories from the University, the stories go straight to ambassadors’ inboxes from a trustworthy source.

Some events that have been shared in the past several weeks include the First-Generation and Low-Income Student Center’s opening and the on-campus celebration for Indigenous People’s Day, Bryant said.

Stories from the University spread much more easily when circulated by ambassadors through BearShare, Bryant said. Algorithms for popular social media sites, like Facebook, prioritize posts from friends and family above those from institutions, she added.

“A lot of the time, we wake up, and one of the first things we do is check our social media networks,” Bryant said. “Social media has changed our ability to connect with people from all over the world.”

For many alums, social media “is a primary form of communication with friends from college,” Bryant said, adding that many active ambassadors were already volunteers for Alumni Relations or the Brown Annual Fund.

As undergraduates, students are “tapped into the most pertinent news that touches (their) everyday (lives), like what’s going on with the SciLi, sports or fine arts,” said Daniel Pipkin ’14, co-chair of the Annual Fund’s Young Alumni Leadership Council. But when they graduate, campus life affects them less, he said.

For example, most alums cannot pick up a copy of The Herald on their way to the Blue Room anymore but “obviously still care about Brown,” Pipkin said, adding that “it was a place pivotal to (them) at that point in time.” When he shares stories about the University though BearShare, Pipkin is able to offer Brown-related news to his friends who may not be as connected to the Brown community anymore and “make it more present” in their lives, he added.

For Joutz, the program is “a great way to stay in touch with what’s happening on campus,” she said.

Pipkin agreed that BearShare is “an opportunity to easily share information that makes (him) excited to be a Brown alum.”


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