In October of 2011 we introduced our first ranking of the primary unions engagement in social media in America and Canada. Today we provide an update just over a year later. It’s only natural that unions would adopt these technologies – they understand grass-roots organising very well. In the case of AFL-CIO in America and IBEW in Canada, these unions can help businesses, governments and other organisations understand the highly effective use of these tools. Almost all of the unions in the USA and Canada increased their presence in the primary social media channels, although some smaller unions seem to have either not increased their presence or decreased enagagement.
Social Media Use by American Unions
Certainly the AFL-CIO remains the leader in usage of social media, with IBEW close on their heels. The biggest leap forward came from IUPA who seem to have put on a push to engage and consistently update content in social media channels. Interestingly, IAFF declined in overall engagement, but was the only union to decline. Most of the others either made small steps forward or stayed the same. As a union may have stayed the same, it does not mean they didn’t actually progress – they may very well have found that the level of engagement they have works well given available resources and the overall quality.
Social Media Use by Canadian Unions
Canadian unions really jumped in with both feet in 2012 it would appear. ACTRA, representing actors made the biggest leap with content and overall engagement. ACTRA has also been exceptionally good (like IBEW in Canada) at creating content across multiple channels. Both CWA and TWU decreased a fair bit in their engagement. They reduced the amount of content and remain disengaged with online members; this may mean they haven’t yet found operational value to engagement and may not have the financial and human resources. It is not a reflection on the union itself. CUPE and PSAC saw definite gains in their use of social media as well.
Summary of Social Media Use by Unions
What we can definitively see is that unions have understood the power of these tools above many businesses and governments. They have set social media policies and internal governance in their use of these tools and are effective in their implementation. They also excel at engagement with their members, enabling members to share and upload their own content such as videos and images. The main form of content unions have found works (we estimate) is video and images, of which extensive use has been made. Another important aspect to recognise here is that unions understand that social media are not just about kids, since their members are skilled working adults.
To assess use, we first collected data from across all unions in the US and Canada. From here we parsed down the data and analysed which unions a) used the most channels, b) what was their influence and authority (our own algorithms and 3rd party tools such asKlout for verification), c) frequency of communications and d) participation with audience. These primary points were compared between 2010, 2011 and 2012 (30 November.) There was statistical variation allowance for populations in each country and unions size to enable more accurate comparions. Based on the above criteria, we assigned a “rank” from 1 to 9 with a 9 being very engaged and 1 being hardly engaged at all (perhaps just 1 or social media channels with little active use.) The data provided herein is the aggregate of that collected for client research projects and does not provide confidential information given to clients.
Note: There are other unions that are engaged in social media channels. We assessed the most prominent unions in terms of volume of content, overall engagement and presence in cyberspace (not just social media.) If you think we missed something, let us know.