Social Media Tip Sheet for Labor Unions & Associations
General Social Media Tips • Social Media is about LISTENING, RESPONDING and ENGAGING. • Social Media is NOT about using the platform as a bullhorn to shout your messages to the masses. • At the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA), Social Media allows our members to easily and quickly share important information, flyers, videos, breaking news and more online. • One downside to Social Media is the leaking of information. For instance, some nurses in a nurse leadership meeting ignored orders to not share the strike date with anyone outside the room. One texted the date to a fellow nurse in the bargaining unit, and minutes later someone had posted the strike date on their Facebook page. From there it spread like wildfire online. (Note: This type of thing is going to happen whether your union has a Social Media presence or not. Members will take discussions about the union and related issues online and share them, so you might as well be doing your best to host the discussion and respond to concerns quickly.) • It goes without saying that you should never post anything on your Social Media channels that you don’t want being widely known. Employers, reporters and others will monitor your Social Media channels for breaking news and to take the temperature of what your nurses are saying/feeling. • The MNA Blog enables us to share multimedia content/updates in a controlled space and also allows comments/discussions to happen as a result. We use lots of photos of REAL nurses who are at the bargaining table and put the Blog’s content into their own words/voices. We have LOTS of critics on our Blog in the comments, and while we do delete anyone obscene or over-‐the-‐top, we do post and respond to a lot of the critical comments as a way of demonstrating transparency and allowing an open, honest discussion. Facebook Tips • If you only use Facebook and Twitter to rebroadcast and recycle your press releases and news items (think of the bullhorn concept), you’ll get almost ZERO engagement. • However if you use Facebook to ask your members questions (“How is staffing at your hospital this month?” or “What can MNA do better for you as a Union?”) you’ll get people engaged and talking. You then need to respond – quickly – when people do start “talking” to you online.
• Facebook is a place where you need a good mix of funny/silly postings (“What are you drinking this morning?”) and serious items (“We need you to show up at the Capitol today for an important hearing. Here’s what’s at stake!”) • MNA’s Facebook page is a place where ALL members can gather to feel connected, share information and opinions and self-‐organize. • Even when we have critics of the union on Facebook, our nurses and MNA leaders engage them and communicate why MNA is doing what it is doing. We try and resolve a concern, offer more information, etc. These conversations are critical because the rest of the online “peanut gallery” is watching to see how the union reacts to criticism. Even if you don’t win over a specific critic, you can satisfy concerns of those in the “peanut gallery” who might have been harboring the same thoughts but were afraid to speak out publicly. • You will get negative comments and criticism from your own members on your Facebook page, and the media can and will point to these criticisms to try and show nurses are not all on the same page with a particular issue or dispute. The best thing you can do is heed the advice from the previous point about engaging your critics in a respectful way and trying to win them over. • Nurses do NOT want to feel censored or controlled, and will get resentful if you censor their Facebook and/or Blog comments. During 2010 metro contract negations, some MNA nurses started their own “No Strike For Nurses” Blog by themselves. They began posting anti-‐MNA and anti-‐NNU rhetoric regularly. The media picked up on the Blog and reported on it. We did our best to paint the group for what it truly was – a fringe group of unhappy nurses who hated having to be part of a union in the first place. Expect to see more of this from employers wanting to prop up and give voice to anti-‐union members. • Use Facebook to gather and post community support from patients, professional athletes, politicians and the public. You members will eat it up! • Use Facebook to connect with patients and families wanting to share specific unsafe staffing horror stories. Turn around and pitch those stories to the mainstream media. • Facebook Ads are very cost-‐efficient and effective way to target a very specific audience/demographic and get real action out of those people as a result. Twitter Tips • Twitter is a place to show solidarity and support by “Mentioning” and/or “Retweeting” messages from other unions, members, journalists, politicians and others. People LOVE when someone “Mentions” or “Retweets” them on Twitter. • Use www.Search.Twitter.com to “listen” and look for people talking about you. Search for your organization’s name or things like “unsafe staffing.” When you find people talking about it, engage them – respond to their Tweets, offer advice, solutions, etc. • Most people “follow” an individual or an organization on Twitter because they get something out of it. What value do your Tweets provide? Great links to content your audience cares about and can use? Discounts or deals to
association events by using a certain code only found on Twitter when you sign up for the next convention? • If you only talk about yourself and use Twitter like a bullhorn, people will quickly un-‐follow and tune you out. Grow bigger ears – listen first, then engage, and ALWAYS provide something helpful or supportive. • Use Twitter to follow and engage with the journalists, politicians and others you want talking about your organization. YouTube Tips • YouTube is very popular with our union members because we can do “face to face” video messages from real RNs. This helps humanize MNA for rank and file members; they realize it is their peers – not “union bosses” – running things. • You can also use YouTube videos to poke the employer in the eye. MNA made a YouTube video that pointed out how one hospital proudly used Toyota’s “Lean” methods to do more with less RN staff. • YouTube videos can be a great way to share celebrity and other endorsements of your members. • Professional video production is nice, but not always necessary. In fact, MNA’s most popular and widely discussed YouTube video was one shot on an iPhone that captured the chaos and drama of employers forcibly locking our nurses that wanted to return to work after a one-‐day strike. This footage was used over and over in the mainstream media and galvanized our nurses in their anger toward the employers. Questions? Feedback? • E-‐mail MNA’s John Nemo at firstname.lastname@example.org