New Orleans On the last day of the ACORN family’s North American Year End / Year Begin meeting several of the workshops and group discussions centered on how to do a better job with social media in building the organization and utilizing our other media assets, especially our terrestrial and internet radio stations. The workshop leaders asked the assembled organizers what social media platforms they used in their work and lives. The variety of utilization was wide from hardly posting on Facebook to the whole range including Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. The strategies used to engage members on these platforms ranged from virtually never to daily and more with Hamilton, Ontario at the highwater mark and most of the rest of us caught in the quicksand.
Only days before I had sat in a meeting at a coffeehouse in Dublin in the Mountjoy neighborhood where I listened to a discussion about a communication plan our new ACORN affiliate there that was going to be implemented by one of the officers. There were various categories from “topics of interest” to reports of actions to questions to Facebook followers designed to promote engagement with a regimen that focused on posting every other day and across these topics in order to drive up the numbers on the algorithm or prevent them from being pushed down by Facebook for over usage.
I could hardly keep up and had little to contribute, since I was in water over my head, but this was fresh on my mind as the conversation developed at the YE/YB. Were we right to post every day in Hamilton? Were we asking questions? Was Twitter a waste of time? I was questioning what I thought I knew on one hand and recognizing our limits on the other. With scarce resources our total investments were in organizing, yet we knew that our affiliate in the United Kingdom had made amazing use of social media and converted their techniques frequently into membership growth, which all of us had tried with various levels of success. Where I might have secretly wondered if being a social media organizer was really a thing, perhaps there was no way around us borrowing from peter to pay more attention to this paul.
In the UK, ACORN’s membership is solidly in the 20 to 40 years demographic, but that is unmatched in other countries where we organize. Internet access doesn’t compare in Honduras, Kenya, India, or even in New Orleans, Little Rock, and among our union membership. Yet at the same time, the discussion made clear that as powerful as our affiliated radio stations were, we were also failing to maximize our utilization there in terms of either spreading the word or building our organizations.
These Year End / Year Begin meetings are invaluable in forcing us to step back and come to grip with areas where we need to make more progress.