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LIVE from Detroit: Workers Organizing Online: What We’ve Learned and What We’re Learning

This session at Netroots Nation is led by Elana Levin who is Director of Online Organizing at Make the Road Action Fund.

Kenzo Shibata began by speaking about the battle he led against Rahm Emanuel’s tactics in attempting to bust the teachers’ union in Chicago. Shibata created a video associating Emanuel with the Tea Party in an attempt to embarrass Emanuel over his anti-union tactics. The video cost very little but made a big impact.

Sara Steffens is speaking about working in social media for an organization. Many involved in social media within an organization many times find themselves becoming overwhelmed by requests. Typically only one person ends up handling all the social media for smaller organizations. The key is to try to spread the responsibility and train others on it so that efforts do not become bottlenecked, particularly if the responsible person is unavailable due to unforeseen circumstances.

Build social networking capacity by holding training sessions to teach others in your organization about hash tag activism (Twitter) and other useful social media activities. Take advantage of those in your organization who are active on Facebook and other social media platforms to utilize their skills for the organization.

When running campaigns or developing a new website, include money in the budget for training others in the skills to help support the effort.

Levin brought up an example of organizing low-wage bank workers. Online organizing, particularly on Facebook, was much more effective than traditional methods, such as doorbelling and phone banking. It is easier to find who works for a particular employer on Facebook because many share where they work on Facebook. Facebook pages created around a cause are still very effective even though recent Facebook changes limit the posts that the page fans see on their news feed. Facebook photos with memes are also very eye catching and effective.

Emailing platforms such as Salsa are very useful because they include tracking of emails and records who opens the emails. You can easily see how well your email posts are being read.