Four more tips for using Facebook for union organising

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So, you’ve downloaded my free e-book on Social Media for Unions, read my tips on how unions can use Facebook… what, you want more?

Ok. You asked for it. Here are four more tips on using Facebook for union organising and communication that you can’t afford to ignore when you set up your union’s Faebook page.

The usual caveats apply: Facebook and social media augments, not replaces, on-the-ground organising and face-to-face conversations. Facebook is a for-profit organisation that has not historically been friendly to unions or union organising efforts. You should integrate your social media plans into your normal communication and organising plans – don’t enter into social media half-cocked. That said, let’s get into it!

Set your criteria for success and measure it

Most union campaigns set clear, measureable goals and objectives, yet for some reason the same doesn’t necessarily happen for our social media campaigns. Setting goals and measuring them is how we learn what works and what doesn’t. For social media campaigns, our criteria for success can be fairly simple (such as getting 1000 fans for your union Page or to increase the proportion of fans who actively engage with your Page) or more complex (using a Facebook app to drive visitors to interact with your campaign website).

Whatever your goals, start measuring straight away. Within Facebook itself, the “Insights” feature on Pages is invaluable. Not only do you get basic demographic information about your fans, but you can also see how many people are interacting with you. This is why it’s important that you set up a Page for your union, rather than a profile.

Outside of Facebook’s analytics offering, things get more complicated. You can embed Google Analytics into special tabs on your Facebook page (but that’s fairly complicated). There are also premium services you can use – these can be pricey.

A good idea is to keep an eye on some other Facebook pages – not just unions, but organisations like WWF or Oxfam, prominent politicians, or some businesses (like Coke or Adidas). These organisations are typically leaders and innovators in using their Facebook pages.

Keep your fans and followers engaged between major campaigns

You’re running an industrial campaign or public campaign – collective bargaining perhaps, or lobbying the government to increase support for your industry. During the campaign, you get 100s of new fans, have daily updates and a high level of engagement. Then, suddenly, the campaign ends – you sign the agreement or win the funding campaign.

Making sure you don’t forget your Facebook fans is essential. They’re already engaged with your union; they’re interested in news from you, and they’re used to interacting.

Regular interaction will keep the ground fertile for when your campaigns ramp back up. If you’re major campaign rush is over, it’s still important to remind your union’s Facebook fans that you’re here and keep them coming back. Sharing old photos from the campaign, or having a “Industrial Tip Friday” will help your members and fans interact with you readily when your Facebook plans ramp back up.

Stay engaged and keep talking

There is a lot of research about why people become “fans” of Facebook pages – to get promotions and discounts – unfortunately it mostly about commerical brands, rather than non-profits like unions. However, what is consistent is that fans want to be kept up to date with interesting content that is updated regularly.

Your union’s fan Page should ideally be updated several times a week. This shouldn’t just be links to your website’s news articles and media releases (although it can include that); it should also include content that is specific for Facebook. Asking your fans questions is a great way to get them engaged – but you could also share event details, photos or videos. In fact, Facebook is one of the largest photo-sharing sites in the world. Uploading photos from rallies or delegate conferences also get your fans involved in tagging people, or sharing them with friends and colleagues.

Your content doesn’t need to be specifically related to your union – you can mention news from your industry or sector, or updates from other unions. Most Facebook users share interesting content with their friends – and your union can be a part of that.

If your union has a Union Benefits program with external companies, such as pensions, superannuation or other businesses, Facebook is also a great way to engage your members and getting them to “like” your page. If (like my union) you’ve got a relationship with a wine seller, you could encourage people to “like” your page in exchange for a chance to win a case of wine (and get the company to “comp” the wine of course). Obviously only members could win. You could also discuss with your Union Benefit partners other promotions – so that youre Facebook page becomes more valuable for your members, your partners, and of course, your union!

Create a social media calendar

Finding the time to regularly update all your social media profiles can be a nightmare. For the busy organiser or communications officer, who is also running campaigns, meeting with members, laying out the newsletter and handling calls from the media, it’s easy to leave the union’s Facebook page lying fallow for a few weeks.

That’s why creating a social media calendar is so important. Sitting down and working out when the major events are on your union’s calendar – bargaining, delegates conferences, RDOs or special holidays for example – can give you a large number of Facebook updates that you can tick off as updates that practically write themselves. If you don’t plan however, it’s easy to miss these dates in the day-to-day rush. If you’re going to look at promotions with your Union Benefits partners, or set up something more complicated like an app – then planning several months out can help you manage your own workload and make sure that your social media presence doesn’t get forgotten.

What do you think? Are there any key Facebook tips that I’ve missed?

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