When Wayne State University freshman Jeremy Rosenberg read about an Israeli startup developing an underground charging system for electric buses, he posted the link on a 200,000-member Facebook group for people interested in electric vehicle technologies. The article got several hundred likes and 50 shares – and in the process, enlightened many people about innovations coming out of Israel.

Choosing ISRAEL21c stories to promote through social media is Rosenberg’s job as one of about 30 18- to 25-year-old Digital Ambassadors spread across 24 American college campuses in the 2017-2018 academic year. He’s the youngest of the group, having applied for the position while still in high school.

“I really love Israel and separating Israel from the political issues that arise from it, and I think this website is the perfect way to promote Israel without promoting any political agenda,” he tells us.

ISRAEL21c Digital Ambassador Jeremy Rosenberg, a freshman from Wayne State University, perusing our website in his dorm room. Photo: courtesy

Since the Digital Ambassador program was launched two and a half years ago, ISRAEL21c’s Facebook likes have grown by 29 percent and online news mentions by 53%. And we’ve achieved nearly 2 million Twitter impressions – including Katy Perry’s retweet of an ISRAEL21c article that garnered half a million views.

“I enjoy hearing what the students are reading and learning about,” says Ari Feinstein, the Chicago-based outreach and engagement coordinator for ISRAEL21c’s Digital Ambassadors Program.

“This year, our ambassador Rachel Poulin — a marketing and entrepreneurship major at Arizona State University — has focused on video content, something nobody did before. She chose a fun video about Israeli microbreweries recently because it was posted last spring and she figured since she would be the only one promoting it now on Facebook she could easily gauge the effect,” says Feinstein.

“She joined Facebook groups for craft beer aficionados and shared the story with them. Afterward, she saw that she garnered an additional 1,500 views.”

Rosenberg recently chose to share ISRAEL21c articles about Puls, “the Uber of home repair,” and another about Tailor Brands for automated, inexpensive branding services.

“We’re supposed to find one article each week and spread it to 10 to 15 sources,” he explains. “I promote the ones that are interesting to me and I find something new every single week that I know would interest tons of people. I try to find the right target audience to get as much viewership as possible, and lots of times I get great feedback.”

Ari Feinstein, Outreach and Engagement Coordinator for ISRAEL21c’s Digital Ambassadors Program. Photo: courtesy

The first-ever Digital Ambassadors retreat is scheduled for January 14-15 in Chicago. “A majority of our ambassadors are coming from across the country for this two-day training event, which speaks to their desire to connect with one another,” says Feinstein.

“We’re grateful to the iCenter for their logistical support for this event. It’s about creating connections and giving our ambassadors some extra training to go forward with this work in a more motivated, strategic and confident way.”

Feinstein hosts three weekly videoconference calls for six to 10 ambassadors at a time. Ambassadors each get a monthly stipend and submit weekly progress reports using an online form.

This year’s Digital Ambassadors are at the following campuses: American University, Arizona State University, Binghamton University, Chapman University, California State University, Drexel University, Indiana University, Marquette University, Moorpark College, Richard Stockton University, San Jose State, Towson University, Tulane/Abroad to Israel, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA, University of Arizona, University of Florida, University of Oregon, University of Pittsburgh, University of Wisconsin, University of Southern California, Wayne State University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

For more information, contact Feinstein at ari@israel21c.org.