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Socially savvy: SU alumna Kim Brown teaches power, importance of social media presence

Luke Rafferty | Design Editor

Kim Brown, assistant director for SU Career Services, teaches her students about career enhancement through use of social media.

From her office in Career Services at the Schine Student Center, Kim Brown starts each workday with a tweet.

Her more than 3,000 followers see the advice from Brown’s day calendar, which she tweets as “Today’s #LifesLittleInstruction.”

Sometimes they are a little odd: “Never play cards with a man whose dog is lying under the table.” And other times they are sentimental. But she always tweets the advice, even this one: “Some believe the decline of morality is directly proportional to the advances in technology.”

Though she serves as assistant director for Syracuse University Career Services, Brown is more well-known for her presence on Twitter, where she shares the personal and the professional. She also represents the university with alumni networking program SUccess in the City. Through her involvement, Brown has become the face of the university and a way for alumni to reconnect with their alma mater.

“A lot of people will refer to me more by my Twitter handle than by my first name,” said Brown, who is known as @kimincuse.

Brown uses social media management dashboard HootSuite to navigate Twitter and teaches students the best practices for LinkedIn. With an increasing number of alumni using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, Brown’s status as a social media connector and source for campus news is much needed.

“I feel like I can be the eyes on campus for the alumni who aren’t here, and that’s really cool,” she said. She said she will never forget announcing via Twitter that Pita El Saha was leaving Marshall Street. She had received tweet after tweet from alumni wondering where they would order a pita during their next visit to campus.

Brown herself is an SU alumna who graduated in 2006 with a degree in broadcast journalism and political science. She was hoping to become the next Katie Couric.

But after four years with NewsChannel 9, Syracuse’s local ABC affiliate, Brown said, the appeal of journalism had worn off, and she needed a new career. She attended an alumni networking event, which is programming she now runs, and learned of a job opening in SU’s Career Services. She applied and returned to SU in 2010.

She still appears on air, but only as a guest on NewsChannel 9’s Bridge Street program, in which she discusses how to use social media to enhance careers.

This semester, Brown became an adjunct professor for the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. She teaches undergraduates BDJ 204: “News in a Multimedia World.”

Brian Spector, Syracuse University Alumni Association president, said interactions on social media remind alumni that the university does not abandon students upon graduation.

“When I see something that connects me with the university, it does make me pause,” said Spector, adding that it could be a university press release or Facebook photo uploaded by alumni that affects his day.

Spector said Brown has developed a reputation for being a resource for alumni who develop a “virtual relationship” with her.

People who know Brown in person or through Twitter describe her as bubbly, spunky and energetic. And she is always happy to accommodate alumni.

Jason Jedlinski, a 1999 Newhouse alumnus who now lives in Chicago, said he has never been so up to speed on SU and alumni news. He joined Twitter three years ago and follows Brown and other “alumni ambassadors” — people from SU who will tweet or post about alumni interests — to find out what’s new.

“It used to be a wait for a magazine that came in the mailbox four times a year,” Jedlinski said.

Brown’s phone is attached to her hip, jokes Ira Berkowitz, president of SU’s Northern New Jersey Alumni Club and 1982 alumnus. But that can be a good thing for alumni in need of the inside scoop.

At a basketball game with Berkowitz, Brown was using her phone to tweet about the game to SU alumni, he said.

“I sat with her at a basketball game, and I told her she needed to get her nose out of her phone,” Berkowitz said.

Brown does do “a great job of getting the word out,” Berkowitz said, and engaging with social media is something SU officials have encouraged alumni to do.

With Twitter, Brown said, she is a mix of personal and professional: “Kimmy” who posts #LifesLittleInstructions and “Kim who works and teaches at SU.”

“You will find out on Twitter things that are me, like my personality and what I like to do, and you will hear sometimes what I had for breakfast if it was particularly delicious,” Brown said. “But you will also see job opportunities. You’ll see those pictures that I share with alumni.”

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