Can Facebook help a union organize? Most definitely.
To learn some lessons from one exciting example, we talked to a friend who co-founded a digital strategy firm that works with progressive organizations.
A union had approached them to help with two campaigns – to get out the vote during a unionization drive, and then, once that GOTV effort was successful, to generate organizing leads for new drives.
As organizers know, organizing is sometimes an art done best in the dark, which you don’t boast about publicly. We’ve kept the example anonymous but here are three tips on how they used Facebook to make the organizing more effective.
In a unionization drive, don’t rely just on traditional methods like phone calls, house visits and emails. Once you’ve charted out all your voters, upload a list of emails to Facebook, make a custom audience, and then use this custom audience for targeted ads.
The union concluded that as many as 10 to 15 percent of “yes” votes were attributable to the Facebook campaign. “The union felt that the digital side of the campaign gave it momentum – a sense that voting ‘yes’ was cool and that a victory was inevitable and exciting,” our friend told us.
Lesson # 2
When generating new leads for organizing drives, don’t rely only on making in person or over the phone contact. If the non-unionized workers you’re trying to reach are licensed, for example, and you’re able to get their contacts, create a custom audience on Facebook, and target them on that platform.
Lesson # 3
Another way to capture leads: set up a Facebook page that makes a connection to broader workplace issues. Unionizing nurses? Make a Facebook page that promotes issues of safety on the job. Put out petitions (during the coronavirus pandemic, to push for more personal protective equipment). These petitions can be run on Facebook using lead ads or ActionSprout. In this way, as you get signatories, you can build campaigning power and also generate potential leads among non unionized healthcare workers.