Viral fraternalism: Why trades unions have the most to gain from social media tools

Marxism Today?
Marxism Today?

Even after Googling for ten minutes or so, I was unable to work out whether it was Groucho Marx or George Burns who said, The secret of acting is┬ásincerity. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

That may be true for actors, but one of the hardest lessons that brands, politicians and marketers are learning at the moment.

In a highly preceptive networked society, faking sincerity is a fool’s errand.

Looking at the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s Ethics Code (via Kathryn’s very informative slideshow), I see this:

4. Word of mouth cannot be faked.
Deception, infiltration, dishonesty, shilling, and other attempts to manipulate consumers or the conversation are bad. Honest marketers do not do this, will not do this, and will get caught if they try. Sleazy behavior will be exposed by the public and backfire horribly on anyone who attempts it.

This observation presents a huge opportunity for Trades Unions. They have all of the properties that enable an organisation to prosper in a networked world – not only in terms of recruitment, but in terms of improving the way that they leverage their membership as an agency of mutual support.

Where organisations that don’t have the willing mutuality of trades unions (and I’d suggest that this is stronger among the smaller unions), they are obliged to attempt astroturfing. Which – as the WOMMA code tells them, is ultimately doomed to failure. I could add more to this, but if you have a look at Anne McCrossan’s post on reciprocity, you’ll see what an advantage Trades Unions could enjoy here without really having to work too hard at it.

Of course, in order to do the recruitment, Unions need to get the basics right (as I outlined in this post a while ago). But once that’s done, active moves to encourage members to use social media tools to relay the message can have a huge impact.

However, the devil is in the detail of that last paragraph. If you are….

a) A trades unionist

b) One that has read this far

… let me offer you a wager:

I bet that you are a social media user who wishes that your TU colleagues could just start to get the potential that social media offers, and to start using it themselves?

If I’m right, you may find it useful to have a look at this.

Update: It turns out that it was George Burns who actually originated that quote I started with – but I’m not passing up the opportunity to use that pic with the ‘Marxism Today’ caption…

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