Thunderclap: Amplifying Your Message Through Social Media

ThunderclapThunderclap is a tool that allows people to donate a social media status at a specific time. When the organizer reaches a threshold of sign-ups, the Thunderclap is activated and all who signed on send a message at the same time.

Thunderclap has different pricing plans from free (the free plan can take up to 3 days to have your message approved, plan accordingly) to paid plans ranging from $45-$500 per campaign. The paid plans additional features that may make them more attractive to your organization.

Illinois Pension Theft Bill

The Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) used a Thunderclap to great effect in 2013 as part of the social media component of their campaign against SB1 – the pension theft bill.

For about a week prior to the bill, IFT started tagging all of our SB1 content with the hashtag #PensionTheft. They forwarded this information to every listserv and Facebook group they participated in and encouraged online activists to spread the word.

About 5-7 unique pieces of #PensionTheft content were posted across their social media channels per day. The crescendo of this campaign was on December 2, 2013 between 7-9PM when they organized a Twitter storm, which coincided with a Thunderclap action they organized.

IFT set a threshold of 100 participants (their goal was 200) and had a total of 738 sign-ups. The messages were released at 8PM and all of this action made #PensionTheft go viral.

Pension Theft Thunderclap

End Result

For several hours on the night of December 2nd, SB1 was the number one topic on Twitter in the Chicago region.

This campaign brought more people to IFT social media channels. They were able to increase their online engagement and capacity for future engagement through this campaign.

Their average attainment of new Facebook “likes” increased by 400% over the course of the campaign. Their average post reach increased by 320% and total number of people engaged with their Facebook page increased by 86%. 

On Twitter, their #PensionTheft content received 10-20 times their average reach. The increase in mentions and retweets yielded a spike in followers. They increased from 2,000 followers at the beginning of the campaign to 2,542.

Although the bill passed, they engaged members and supporters through the campaign and increased their capacity to keep them informed.

Meet Richard Hayes. He Picks Up Mitt Romney’s Trash.

The 2013 Multimedia Award winner was the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) for their campaign featuring public workers who service Mitt Romney’s La Jolla, Calif., neighborhood.

As the 2012 Presidential election was in full swing, AFSCME Local 127 (Council 36) members Richard Hayes, Joan Raymond, and Temo Fuentes told their stories and helped definitively shift the national conversation about the best candidate to represent all Americans, not just the wealthiest 1 percent.

In recognition of these members’ influence during the election, Campaigns and Elections Magazine awarded AFSCME a prestigious Reed Award for its “Meet Richard” video series. It won in the Web Video: Ballot Initiative or Independent Expenditure category.

The video series highlighted Richard and Joan, who are San Diego sanitation workers whose route includes the wealthy La Jolla, Calif., community where Mitt Romney has a beachfront villa. Temo repairs the fire trucks that service La Jolla. They told the world how Romney’s harmful economic policies would affect them and working people across America.

Their stories exploded, garnering more than 1.6 million views and receiving coverage from Politico, MSNBC, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The Huffington Post, FOX News’ Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and The Washington Post, among many others. It was even featured by late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, who spoofed it with a video called “Manservants for Mitt.”

AFSCME launched the video series two weeks after Romney’s infamous 47 percent remarks and right before the Vice Presidential debate. It helped keep the spotlight on Romney’s out-of-touch comments and kept the focus on the right-wing ticket’s dangerous policies for working families.

Richard, Joan, and Temo told their stories and they were heard. Loudly and clearly.

It’s What We Do

The 2012 Multimedia Award winner was the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) for their It’s What We Do campaign.

NYSUT is one of the largest, most influential labor unions in the nation. And that’s too often the only way it’s perceived by the public. But what NYSUT really is, is 600,000-plus individuals who – every day – practice their professions at the highest level of proficiency and commitment. Their work, in education, health care, and other public service, improves the lives of children and families; it strengthens our communities.

It’s What We Do is a place for these dedicated professionals to share with the public their stories – in words, pictures, videos and blogs – so that there’s a deeper understanding of how what happens in classrooms, on college campuses, in hospitals and on other worksites enhances the quality of life in New York state.

Its What We Do


Bryan Thomas, online communications coordinator with New York State United Teachers, explained, “The general idea is to incorporate union stories into everyday social media; to share and spread such stories,” which counter right-wing messages that are spread in much the same way. “People are more likely to share news from online sources,” he said. In fact, he noted, online is now the Number 3 news source in the U.S.

“There’s also less room for more in-depth, personal reports in the major news publications,” said Thomas. “So social media – particularly microsites (basically stand-alone sub-sections of larger sites) – are a great way to explore the workers that go unnoticed far too often.”

See more of NYSUT’s It’s What We Do site.

March for California’s Future

The 2011 Multimedia Award winner was the California Federation of Teachers for their March for California’s Future campaign.

The “March for California’s Future” kicked off with a rally in the Mount Moriah church in South Central Los Angeles on March 5, and then resumed in Bakersfield, following another rally in Martin Luther King Jr. Park, the same day. A core group marches all the way to Sacramento, including representatives of unions and other community allies of CFT. Every few days throughout the march, there were events—rallies, town halls, a bigger march, visits with local union members, church breakfasts, teach-ins—designed to maximize public awareness of three issues:

March For California's Future

Award-winning labor journalist David Bacon provided weekly installments on the march.

CFT registered voters as they marched, gathered signatures for the Majority Budget Act, and pressed local public elected officials along the way to agree with these principles. The march was part of an ongoing campaign: the Fight for California’s Future.

As part of the campaign, CFT produced an animated video explains economic inequality, need for wealthy to pay fair share of taxes. Tax the rich: An animated fairy tale, is narrated by Ed Asner, with animation by award-winning artist Mike Konopacki, and written and directed by Fred Glass for the California Federation of Teachers. The 8-minute video shows how we arrived at this moment of poorly funded public services and widening economic inequality. Things go downhill in a happy and prosperous land after the rich decide they don’t want to pay taxes anymore. They tell the people that there is no alternative, but the people aren’t so sure. This land bears a startling resemblance to our land.

Work That Matters

In 2011, Connecticut public employees were being pressured to give up benefits or risk having their jobs eliminated as part of the state budget. With budget negotiations taking several months, AFT Connecticut had time to educate legislators about the work public employees were doing and how important it was to the state.

AFT Connecticut initiated the Work That Matters campaign, interviewing 23 public employees from across the state. Profile postcards were generated containing workers stories and mailed to public officials each week of the legislative session. In addition, legislators were emailed links to videos of workers telling their stories.

Here’s a sample of one of the postcards:

Work That Matters

Probation officer Melissa Chin-Hing understands that her job goes way beyond checking in with people on probation.

“Every day we are working to rehabilitate people and reintegrate them into society,” says Melissa. “We connect them with programs that help them get their lives back on track. Most importantly we ensure that the public is safe.”

Melissa works with public agencies and non-profit organizations to coordinate services and programs and make our probation system work.

Melissa is only one of many probation officers across Connecticut whose work is being threatened by state budget cuts.

State employees like Melissa Chin-Hing are vital to Connecticut’s public safety. We need to keep them doing work that matters.

Work That Matters put a face on Connecticut public employees demonstrating how they provide the services that keep Connecticut functioning. Over the course of the legislative session, legislators’ attitude about public employees began to change. Many legislators spoke publicly about the need to preserve public employee jobs.

This weakened the governor’s position resulting in the fewest concessions among public employees nationwide that year.

Side of Applesauce

In 2010, 300 workers and members of UFCW Local 220 were forced on strike at the Mott’s plant in Williamson, NY. The company slashed wages by $1.50 an hour for each employee and was trying to take away the workers’ pension plan. Dr. Pepper Snapple’s stock was skyrocketing and outperforming others in the industry.

UFCW looked for how they could use social media to support actions on the ground and shed light on a company’s actions.

UFCW’s New Media Strategy:

On Facebook
UFCW asked people to target the Mott’s Facebook page:MottsFacebookMottsBadge


UFCW encouraged supporters to print out and tape strips of paper to Mott’s products on the shelves.



On Twitter
UFCW asked people to use the hashtag #justiceatmotts

UFCW created flyers for leafleting actions at stores.

UFCW created a hub for downloading materials and documenting actions.


Making actions visible to the public
UFCW documented Mott’s defensive actions on their blog and used them as examples of success including photos and video of actions.

UFCW added facts about the strike to the Mott’s Wikipedia page.

End Results

The Mott’s Strike – a social media campaign case study

Much of this activity will include some elements of social media.   The recent Mott’s strike included a highly successful  social media campaign aimed at Doctor Pepper Snapple that was inexpensive to create, achieved a level of viral spread, and has been credited with helping to bring the strike to an end due.

The campaign was so successful, despite being enjoined in court following a filing by DPS for trademark infringement, that the campaign will be featured as part of a panel on social media at the upcoming International Labor Communications Association’s (ILCA’s) annual conference, to be held in Washington D.C, on November 19, 2010.  This conference is a gathering of labor press from around the country, featuring an opportunity to share best practices, and learn about new ways to deliver the message of organized labor.
                                                          – Michael VanDervort , HR consultant

It Takes A Team

In 2012, during his State of the State speech Connecticut’s Governor Malloy announced his plans for education reform where he said “teachers just need to show up for four years and they have a job for life.” Malloy brought in pro-charter school policy experts to craft the legislation.

As part of the overall effort to shape the legislation, AFT Connecticut initiated the “It Takes A Team” campaign to highlight the efforts of educators and parents in educating children.

It Takes A Team

Twelve team members were brought together from across the state and interviewed about their work in education. Their stories were used on profile postcards. Each week of the legislative session, a profile postcard was sent to every legislator and policy maker involved in education reform. In addition, public officials received emails with links to short videos of team members speaking about their work.

AFT Connecticut's It Takes A Team Campaign

Team members were featured on and

Team members testified at public hearings and participated in lobby days meeting directly with legislators.

These efforts, compiled with member advocacy and organization lobbying, led to legislators calling for AFT Connecticut to be at the table during legislative negotiations. The end result was an education reform bill that the union helped craft and ensured a voice for educators in teacher evaluations.