NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

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.

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