People have strong feelings about social media: some swear by it, others avoid it like the plague. But there is no denying that it is here to stay and an important way that we all communicate with one another. Many locals are adopting social media programs and their best practices teach us a lot about how Facebook can be a tool for strengthening your union.
TIP 1: Facebook doesn’t follow Roberts Rules, require quorums for votes or even have calls to order. It’s a pretty unregulated place where anyone can pretty much say anything (with some limitations) at almost any time. Understanding how to effectively use Facebook in a communications program means accepting it for what it is. It’s a place to get news, share news, ask questions and post your opinion.
TIP 2: Social media has no age barrier. Usage in all age groups has been growing significantly in recent years. According to Pew Research (2015), US age group usage is as follows:
- 18-29: 90% on social media
- 30-49: 77% on social media
- 50-64: 51% on social media
- 65 and up: 35% on social media
TIP 3: Members have to be comfortable with social media for locals to use it. Some will gravitate towards it naturally because many get all their news and updates off of platforms like Facebook already. But others see Facebook as something generational or just to keep in touch with family. When members see that social media is a valuable source for instant information, they will start to see it as a valuable tool. UAW Local 788 (Region 8) in Orlando, Florida knew that they wanted to create a Facebook account for their members, but they have a workforce that has the extremes of very high and low seniority. To get members who don’t use Facebook comfortable with it, the activists and leaders took to the shop floor to show them the latest updates on their smartphones and tablets. Soon curiosity gave way to the question, “how do I get that?”
Rapid Tips for Facebook
- Keep content fresh and varied on your local union’s Facebook page. Have a mixture of original content created by the local (letter from president, for example) and links.
- Facebook users prefer video and graphics. Making them is pretty simple, but there are many that already exist that you can share, including content already on uaw.org or the UAW International’s Facebook page.
- Answer member questions posted under comments. Some are more appropriate to take off line so make a plan to talk to them in person at work.