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The United Auto Workers Use a Crucial Negotiation to Double Their List Size

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Last fall, with a contract renewal looming, the United Auto Workers were negotiating with the Detroit Three auto manufacturers. The negotiations extended past their expected close in September, and on into the late days of November. As the negotiations dragged on, eager auto workers wanted to hear updates about how the discussions were progressing.

The UAW realized that they could keep their membership informed – and also use the opportunity to grow their mobile list, a vital membership communication tool.

“We recognized that there was a built-in opportunity to grow our list organically,” said UAW digital director Andrew Huddleston.

The resulting campaign more than doubled their list size, from 28,000 to 59,000 subscribers.

Using Big News for Big Growth

“We knew our members would be interested in hearing updates about the negotiations, because they have a vested interest in the outcome,” Huddleston said “We thought we could both give them the information they wanted, and build our mobile list at the same time.”

The UAW reached out across every platform they had to urge their members to sign up for the mobile list and stay informed.

    • Social Media: UAW sent out social media posts across Twitter and Facebook encouraging their members to text in and join to hear ongoing updates.
    • Local Posters: UAW sent posters out to local unions to post in common areas, that suggested members could stay informed over SMS.  
    • Online: UAW asked members online if they wanted to receive text message updates in addition to email correspondence.
Social media posts from UAW spread the word about the SMS campaign.

Social media posts from UAW spread the word about the SMS campaign.

Tell a Friend: One of the key components of the UAW’s growth strategy was mobile “tell a friend.” UAW workers often share a close bond, working side by side every day. UAW knew that if one member signed up, he or she would know which of their friends and colleagues would also be interested in joining the mobile list.

So UAW sent out occasional “tell a friend” texts, suggesting to their existing mobile subscribers that they could forward the list on to anybody else who might be interested.

Within just a month, 19,000 new members had signed up for their mobile campaign – and the list ultimately doubled in size to over 59,000 members. 7% of all the resultant list growth came just from Tell a Friend alone.  

“Our list was 28,000 for four years – and it doubled in just a year,” Huddleston said.

An Enormous Success

The UAW used their newly-supersized list to distribute crucial information to their list – not just contract updates, but web links to memos from the union leadership as well.

“Text messaging is a crucial part of our communications strategy, because it’s so immediate,” Huddleston said. “We can get messages out really quickly, and then track the response from our users.”

What You Can Learn from the UAW

The UAW campaign succeeded so well for three reasons.

1) First, they used a major national issue to draw attention to their mobile list.

2) Second, they messaged their users across every existing platform they had, using social media, posters, and the web to promote signup.

3) Third, they leveraged the actual way their members interact – as friends and colleagues, working together – to drive subscriber growth.

When your organization is facing big issues, think about how you can message your constituents, and engage them in ways that make sense for their lives.

And if you want to chat strategy, contact your mobile strategist. We’re always happy to help plot a sweet new mobile campaign.