Publicizing your union goals, updates, and more to the public allows you to make inroads with communities involved in the labor movement and build solidarity. Connecting with other unions is vital to building a coalition of like-minded organizers who's support you may need in the future (like if you decide to strike).

Below, we’ve outlined some strategies your union can take to both get started on social media and build a following that unites behind your union’s goals.

Care of: dole777 on Unsplash

Why does my union need a social media presence?

At this point in the 21st century, having a presence on social media — namely Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (and even TikTok and Snapchat) — is as ubiquitous as having a website or email. Social media accounts can establish credibility and legitimacy, especially now that two generations of workers have grown up on the internet.

Additionally, the news cycle is more complex and nuanced than ever before. The conversation is always going no matter where you look, and if your union isn’t finding opportunities to take a stance, you might feel left out. For an article on social media organizing tactics, surveillance and laws, click here.

How do I get started?

First, determine why you’re getting on social media. Besides the fact that social media is all the rage and it will continue to be, ask yourselves what you’re trying to get out of it. Answering this question will help determine the type of content you share and support, and the connections you attempt to make.

Next, establish exactly how much time and resources you’re willing to dedicate to social media on a weekly basis. At the very least, you’ll need to make sure this becomes a part of your week-to-week routine, if not a part of your day-to-day.

You need to establish and prepare to tinker with the following:

  • How often and when you’ll post.
  • What platforms you use.
  • The kinds of content you’ll be posting.
  • Who will be responsible for your social media? You’ll need to pick a point person or team to create content for and manage a content calendar.
Above: A copy of Unit’s content calendar created using Google Sheets.

You’ll also need to do some preliminary research on the organizers and labor unions in your industry on social media, as well as any other relevant accounts (e.g. a professor of labor relations at a university).

Hootsuite, a popular social media scheduling platform, calls this process a “social media audit.”

Where should I post?

Facebook and Twitter are arguably the “easiest” social media platforms to keep updated because they don’t rely on users to create videos or design graphics.

That being said, visual platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and especially TikTok do not require much technical wherewithal and production value to get across an effective message. They can be used in a quick way to capture community events, strikes, and other events that a text post cannot in the same way.

Additionally, you might be tempted into cross-posting the same content across social media channels. While this may be helpful when starting out to build up a base across different platforms, it would be unwise to think that they act the same.

Sprout Social, another social media management tool, has some tips on the kinds of posts that are effective for Twitter and Facebook. Shopify, an e-commerce company, created a guide for effective Instagram posts, and though they are mostly business-focused, we encourage you to think about the kinds of messaging discussed in their guide, but through the lens of your union.

Depending on the demographics your union, you may want to start with one form of social media that's commonly used among members and see how it goes.

Care of: Meghan Schiereck on Unsplash

When should I post?

Hootsuite offers a breakdown of the best times to post:

Care of: Hootsuite

In the end though, no algorithm or handbook can ever explain why things go “viral” or resonate with audiences. But, for the sake of ease when scheduling posts, follow a framework similar to the one above for best results.

How should I post?

Well, it depends. Below, we’ve outlined some examples of posts you could replicate, but our overwhelming advice would be to experiment and get to know what your audience likes to engage with. Social media is ever-changing, and the kinds of formats or memes used one month may not resonate during another.  

  • Start small! Heart react a news article, another users’ tweet, an event, etc. In the example below, a user took a screenshot and called out an employer who’s threatening employees. Also below, The New York Times Guild quote tweeted someone talking about paid time off with their own take on the subject.
  • Create a 3-6 tweet sequence about your union’s efforts, your situation, etc. On Twitter, these are called threads. On Instagram, these can take the form of multi-image posts or Stories.
  • Reply to posts. A tip: Search for topics or trends that are labor-focused, labor-adjacent or have to do with your industry. For example, “labor union” will yield some posts, but “minimum wage” or “burnout” — which labor unions can help fight against — are likely to be much more discussed on social media.

Go forth and social

You can’t organically grow a following overnight. But making social media a part of your workflow can be a help down the line if you take a workplace campaign public.