trade unions
27 Nov 2012

Which Unions are the most influential on social media in 2012?

Following on from the league table of trade union websites I produced earlier this year, I thought I’d look at who the most influential trade unions are in social media.

It’s difficult to measure reputation on the Internet. However, with the increasing importance of social media – including retweets, likes, +1s, replies, and follower counts – the organisations I work with and advise are increasingly keen to keep score and compare themselves with their rivals, be they private sector or non profits.

Social media influence is critical to unions as well as companies, and the unions I’ve worked with are very keen to know if there is any way to measure progress. There are two main services attempting to measure social influence online: Klout and Kred.

They analyse social networking systems and provide an estimated influence value by scoring factors such as how many times a tweet is retweeted and how quickly new followers are being added.

I’ve used scores from Klout and Kred to create an average score of online social influence for all the main Twitter accounts of trade unions affiliated to the TUC. I’ve compiled the results into a table below:

  Union Username Klout (out of 100) Kred influence (out of 1000) Average (out of 100) Notes
1 Unite @unitetheunion 79 846 81.8  
2 PCS @pcs_union 64 867 75.35  
3 UNISON @unisontweets 63 840 73.5  
4 NUT @NUTonline 61 787 69.85  
5 Equity @EquityUK 62 773 69.65  
6 UCU @ucu 60 779 68.95  
7 NUJ @NUJofficial 61 744 67.7  
8 The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain @TheWritersGuild 58 750 66.5  
9 Musicians’ Union @WeAreTheMU 57 733 65.15  
10 RMT @RMTunion 55 742 64.6  
11 BECTU @bectu 54 742 64.1  
12 NASUWT @nasuwtunion 53 751 64.05  
13 Chartered Society of Physiotherapy @thecsp 53 732 63.1  
14 BDA @BrDieteticAssoc 53 728 62.9  
15 PFA @pfa 55 708 62.9  
16 Prospect @ProspectUnion 52 728 62.4  
17 Community @CommunityUnion 50 709 60.45  
18 CWU @CWUnews 49 713 60.15  
19 ATL @ATLUnion 48 718 59.9  
20 TSSA @TSSAunion 50 688 59.4  
21 BFAWU @IanBFAWU 49 695 59.25 Closest one we could find.
22 AFA CWA @afa_cwa 53 650 59  
23 ASLEF @ASLEFunion 48 694 58.7  
24 GMB @GMB_union 47 689 57.95  
25 BALPA @BALPApilots 49 643 56.65  
26 FBU @fbunational 48 Privacy settings do not allow Kred access. - Estimated position based on Klout score.
27 Nautilus Intl @nautilusint 47 659 56.45  
28 EIS @EISUnion 46 649 55.45  
29 USDAW @UsdawMedia 47 639 55.45  
30 Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists @SCP_PodiatryUK 47 609 53.95  
31 Accord @GedNichols 44 618 52.9  
32 Society of Radiographers @SCoRMembers 43 558 49.4  
33 UCAC @AthrawonCymru 40 554 47.7  
34 AEP @katefallonaep 39 535 46.25 Closest one we could find.
35 NAPO @Napo_News 43 489 45.95  
36 NACO @NACOtradeunion 38 525 45.25  
37 URTU @URTUonline Not used recently enough for scoring. 221 - Estimated position based on Kred score.
38 BIOS @BIOS59799033 19 41 11.55  
- Advance         No Twitter account
- Aegis         No Twitter account
- BACM-TEAM         No Twitter account
- BSU         No Twitter account
- FDA         No Twitter account
- HCSA         No Twitter account
- NACODS         No Twitter account
- NASS         No Twitter account
- NGSU         No Twitter account
- NUM         No Twitter account
- POA         No Twitter account
- SURGE         No Twitter account
- UCATT         No Twitter account
- Unity         No Twitter account
- OURS         No Twitter account
- YISA         No Twitter account

Sources: &, November 2012.

Unite come out top, with an average of 81.8, followed by PCS with 75.35 and Unison with 73.5. This is a good result for PCS in particular, given the comparative size of the union, and Unite enjoy a significant lead in 1st place.

The NUT come next with 69.85, followed by Equity (69.65), UCU (68.95) and the NUJ (67.7). The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, Musicians’ Union, and the RMT make up the rest of the top 10.

A special mention should be given to The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, who come 8th despite having just 1,333 members. This is a fraction of the membership of many unions, and even though their membership are likely to be influential themselves, this is a very impressive performance.

Some other smaller unions do well, with the BDA and PFA coming 14th and 15th respectively. Conversely some larger unions will be looking to do better, noticeably the GMB in 24th place despite having 600,000 members, and USDAW in 29th with 386,000 members.

Quite a few of the smaller unions have no Twitter presence yet, or at least not one that can be found via their website or search engines. It may be a lack of resources which prevents them from managing a Twitter account. It will be interesting to see how many add accounts over the coming year.

How can unions increase their influence through social media and Twitter?

Any strategies should be developed according to the priorities of the unions, but here are a few simple pointers:

  • Spend time managing the Twitter account and posting regular updates.
  • Interact and connect with people. Retweet items of interest, start conversations, and follow people.
  • Tweet links to the latest news on the union’s website.
  • Tweets are limited to 140 characters. Write them well to make the biggest impact possible.
  • Use an effective and professional image for your Twitter account.
  • Link to the union Twitter account from the union homepage and email signatures. I had to dig around to find a number of the Twitter accounts above as there was no link on the union’s website

There are, of course, some significant limitations with any analysis of this kind. Most notably:

  • I’ve used services that estimate influence and the results will necessarily be limited by how well these systems work.
  • I’ve only looked at Twitter, as it’s the only social media network that’s open to full analysis. However, it is clearly the most influential service in social media for organisations like trade unions.
  • Some organisations may use multiple Twitter accounts in their communications strategy, diluting the influence of their main account.

Despite these limitations, I hope my analysis is useful for identifying some of the key union Twitter accounts to follow, as well as providing an up-to-date list of the main union Twitter accounts.

If this league table proves useful, I plan to update it once a year. This should hopefully be a useful measure of progress, and it may be interesting to see how rankings have changed a year from now.

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