As we all stumble out of the dumpster fire that was 2021, Canadian unions like the larger country are seeing significant changes across the board. Discussions around fairness, equality, and working conditions are changing the conversation about work in Canada. And in the process, creating a real opportunity for unions to organize new workplaces, and deepen relationships with their existing members.
Here are four trends (or as we at Metric call them: opportunities!) in digital campaigning that we think every union should be acting on in 2022:
Let me start by getting this out of the way. No – you DON’T need to post a TikTok of your president doing the latest TikTok dance trend (in fact: it’s probably more powerful if TikTok content is made by your members!)
But with explosive growth through 2021, and over-represented reach among women, parents, and diverse communities, TikTok is worth paying attention to as a way to engage — and organize.
As TikTok continues its growth in 2022, forward-thinking unions should consider paid and organic opportunities on TikTok to reach members (and potential members). Especially younger Canadians using the platform.
The bottom line: Invest in growing platforms to reach your members — and to organize new ones.
2. Digital organizing
There’s no doubt about it — we’re solidly in the era of digital organizing.
From politics to brand advocacy, organizations are increasingly asking their supporters to take meaningful real-world action for the causes they care about.
Whether it’s AirBNB encouraging its hosts to put pressure on city councils, or the Canadian Labour Congress mobilizing thousands of citizens to meet (virtually) with their members of parliament, campaigns have moved beyond clicktivism and into a space where supporters and activists want a meaningful role to play.
A prime example from the recent 2021 federal election was the NDP’s “Team Jagmeet” program. Volunteers from across the country were invited to join together, connect with organizers, resources and training opportunities in order to campaign — all from their laptops and tablets. This community of volunteers were able to hit the ground running: making calls, sending text messages, and organizing “friend-banks” in key battleground ridings where their efforts would have an impact.
The bottom line: Build ways for your members (and supporters) to play a meaningful role in your campaigns work.
3. Responsive text messaging
As soon as I became eligible for my COVID booster in December, I received a nice text message from the BC government telling me it was my turn and asking me to register.
From COVID vaccines to meal delivery to technical support, people find text messaging to be an easy way to engage with the organizations and services that matter to them. But the impersonal broadcast messages of yester-year no longer cut it. People are demanding relevant notifications and interactive responses to their texting interactions.
One of our favourite new tools for easy, interactive text messaging is the Action Network mobile messaging. It enables you to use an incredibly affordable platform to seamlessly integrate interactive text messaging with your email and advocacy campaigns. You can even build interactive conversations using the Ladders feature.
The bottom line: Your members expect positive, relevant interactions with their union. It’s easy to deliver that by text message.
4. Taking action based on data insights
We’ve been hearing about “big data” for years. From political campaigns to retail, big data is already impacting every area of your members lives.
Unions have long been collecting important data on members — from where they live to their history of engagement with the union — we’ve been trained to keep track of everything in our database. But what good is all this information if we can’t act on it?
This is the year to change that. From using census data to draw inferences about your members (like their age or whether they own or rent their home) to proactively identifying new activists and volunteers, building on your data collection work can have big pay-offs.
The catch? It’s probably time to move to more modern and scalable tools than Unionware or Nationbuilder — and embrace a culture where good data helps you make better decisions.
The bottom line: Employers have used big data for decades to maintain the upper hand. It’s time for unions to level the playing field.
Michael Roy is the Managing Director and Founding Partner at Metric Strategies.