Category: Social networks

LabourStart in Numbers – Q3 2015

This quarterly report raises more questions than it answers, and here are some of them:

1. We’re showing the total number of downloads from Google’s Android store for the first time. As we can see, after some time, many users who downloaded an app cease to be active users, or delete it from their phones. What can we do to sustain our numbers and grow them?

2. Nearly all our mailing lists are either shrinking or static (Swedish is an artificial growth – imports from the English list). What can we do to grow our lists over time? (Short answer: get unions which request campaigns to promote them to their members and allies.)

3. Only 5 new correspondents added in the last 90 days — how can we bring in new ones, especially to replace those who become inactive over time?

4. Traffic to our news pages remains quite low, especially to the non-English ones. We have twice as many unique users of our campaigns as we have of news.  What can we do to drive traffic to our news site? Ads on Google and Facebook?

NEW: Android app downloads (totals)

First number is current, second number is total installs

English: 428 / 686
Norwegian: 33 / 31
Esperanto: 28 / 76

Total: 489 current installs

Mailing lists

English: 85,962 – 86,373
French: 8,299 – 8,276
German: 5,793 – 5,700
Spanish: 5,462 – 5,431
Italian: 3,998 – 4,039
Turkish: 3,755 – 3,650
Korean: 2,996 – 3,080
Norwegian: 2,749 – 2,790
Russian: 2,384 – 2,408
Dutch: 1,775 – 1,743

Swedish: 1,239 – 387
Chinese: 1,103 – 1,103
Polish: 734 – 752
Finnish: 687 – 687
Japanese: 483 – 483
Arabic: 463 – 463
Portuguese: 373 – 355
Indonesian: 346 – 346
Hebrew: 282 – 278
Tagalog: 254 – 254
Farsi: 242 – 242

Social networks

Twitter followers

English: 14,881 – 14,676
Canada English: 4,613 – 4,422
Canada French: 803 – 728
USA: 524 – 521
Indonesia: 341 – 292
Italian: 330 – 290
French: 225 – 224
Spanish: 76 – 76
German: 75 – 76
Japanese: 21 – 21
Russian: 19 – 19
Portuguese: 8 – 7


Like page (English): 10,078 – 9,893
Members of LabourStart group: 8,526 – 8,500
Like LabourStart page (French): 478 – 478
Like LabourStart page (German): 433 – 428
Like LabourStart page (Turkish): 165 – 161
Like LabourStart page (Hebrew): 145 – 143


Members: 5,885 – 5,879


LabourStart group: 1,948 – 1,944


Union group on Flickr: 791 – 790


Correspondents: 789 – 784 (news)

Unique users – 18,711 – 24,170

Top countries (by sessions):

USA 27% – 28%
Canada 15% – 14%
UK 8% – 8%
Australia 6% – 8%
India 5% – 5%

Most popular pages – page views:

Home page – English 33,294 – 44,076
USA – English 14,883 – 13,854
Canada – English 6,543 – 6,791
Home page – Norwegian – 2,493
Australia – 2,234 – 2,673 (campaigns)

Unique users – 39,436 – 30,849

Top countries (by sessions):

Canada 19% – 23%
USA 15% – 15%
UK 15% – 12%
Germany 6% – 7%
Australia 5% – 4%

Most popular pages – page views:

Iran: Free Esmail Abdi now – 13,947
China: Stop police violence against workers fighting for their rights – 13,105
Turkey: Union busting at €1,000 hand bag producer SF Leather – 10,211
Malaysia: Stop union busting in SFI – 9,058
Poland: Stop sackings and union busting at port – 4,760

A quiet start to August

Our Turkey campaign (SF Leather/Mulberry) with well over 9,000 messages sent, is now our third largest current campaign, having displaced the Malaysia forestry workers’ campaign.  We’ve finally seen an increase in the number of supporters from Turkey itself, with 299 supporting the Turkish-language version of the campaign and another 120 people from Turkey supporting the English version.

In the next five days I expect to close two campaigns launched in early May — in support of workers in Hungary and Iran.  Both campaigns attracted fewer than 7,000 supporters each, while all the campaigns since then have been considerably larger.  Our current Iran campaign, for example, is 78% larger than the one we launched in May.

As a result of these campaigns, our mailing lists continue to grow. I just added 195 new supporters to our lists, with 144 of them going to the English list.

We publicized the IUF’s latest campaign (hotel workers in Myanmar) both through our Facebook page and group, and in a mass mailing.  Following our mailing, the number of supporters for that campaign has nearly doubled.

There had been a problem when we posted a link to one of our country news pages (e.g., Canada) on Facebook.  We had no control over the image that was shown, nor was the text particularly suitable.  These have now been fixed.

We’ve been approached by the Palestinian postal workers union who are asking for our help in getting connected internationally.  I’ve passed this on to UNI and we’ll explore helping them make links directly with postal workers unions in different countries.

Thunderclaps, social networks and how to grow a campaign

The last seven days at LabourStart …


SF Leather/Mulberry: I sent out a followup mailing to the 70,000+ people on the English list who didn’t open last week’s message. This added a considerable number of new supporters. The campaign is now up to 8,432 supporters. Due to the very low response to our first appeal in Turkish, we drafted an entirely new appeal and sent that out as well. Still, response rates in Turkey remain low, with just 131 supporters for the Turkish language version of the campaign (plus another 90 supporters of the English campaign from Turkey).  I have consulted our Turkish comrades and we are discussing why this is happening and what we can do about it.

Esmail Abdi: This remains our largest current campaign, with 12,252 messages sent so far. The Canadian teachers-initiated Thunderclap was successful in the sense that it reached over 330,000 people, but it generated very few new supporters for the campaign. This confirms previous experience with using Facebook and Twitter to promote campaigns — their impact is much less than you might think, and email remains a far more powerful tool. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use social networks — of course we should; in fact, we’re posting more content than ever before to Facebook, reaching a larger audience.

IUF SABMiller campaign: Following the company’s attempt to block messages, we did a mailing to encourage support this IUF campaign.

Translations: I’ve improved an online form I created some time ago which will make it easier and quicker to deal with submitted translations of campaigns (where the translators are unable to upload the campaigns themselves). We’ll start using this from the next campaign we get.

Mailing lists:

We continue to pick up many new subscribers due to the campaigns. A couple of days ago, I added 256 new subscribers — including 44 new ones for our Turkish language list.
We now have a Sinhalese list, but only one name on it for the moment.


Our Norwegian language app for Android is now available in the Google Play store.


We’ve had 3 large donations from Canadian unions in recent days.

Iran, Turkey, Morocco, Malaysia, Norway, Burma and Transnistria – another week goes by at LabourStart


We launched a new campaign demanding the release of a jailed Iranian teacher trade union leader, Esmail Abdi, which instantly became one of our largest. The campaign has 6,700 supporters after less than two days online. Canadian teachers unions have launched a Thunderclap to help build support for this.  If you have a Twitter or Facebook account, please sign up to support this and spread the word about it.

We’ve also been asked to support a campaign in Turkey and Morocco this week as well. We’re waiting to hear from the IFJ and EFJ about a possible campaign in defense of a journalist in Transnistria who is a LabourStart correspondent.

I did a followup mailing on the Malaysia forestry workers campaign in English. That campaign is well over 8,000 messages sent, making it our second largest current campaign.  But I expect the Iran campaign to overtake it in a day or two.  Followup emails sent a week after we do the initial mailing are important, and I always do them in English.  If the translators for our other large lists (French, German, Spanish) want to do the same, it might help get several hundred additional supporters for our campaigns.

Mailing lists:

We picked up 974 new subscribers this week following the launch of our Iran campaign. We’re now have 132,173 subscribers to our various lists.

Social networks:

Our Facebook page now has 10,021 likes. I’ve stopped paying for advertising and growth from today will be organic. That ad campaign cost us $95.29 and generated 583 new page likes.


Our Android app in Norwegian is now nearly done — just a couple more tweaks and it will go live on Google Play. We’ll begin work on other languages, using this as the template.


The ILO office in Burma needed a Word version of our global labour movement book; this has been found and sent to them.

LabourStart in Numbers – Q2 2015

Some highlights of this, our second quarterly report for 2015:

Mailing lists

Mailing lists have largely stagnated or shrunk in the last 3 months, though we’ve seen some modest growth for English, Swedish, French, Portuguese and Hebrew.

English: 86,373 – 86,077
French: 8,276 – 8,238
German: 5,700 – 5,708
Spanish: 5,431 – 5,446
Italian: 4,039 – 4,059
Turkish: 3,650 – 3,684
Korean: 3,080 – 3,080
Norwegian: 2,790 – 2,803
Russian: 2,408 – 2,418
Dutch: 1,743 – 1,762

Chinese: 1,103 – 1,107
Polish: 752 – 752
Finnish: 687 – 687
Japanese: 483 – 483
Arabic: 463 – 463
Swedish: 387 – 345
Portuguese: 355 – 353
Indonesian: 346 – 346
Hebrew: 278 – 277
Tagalog: 254 – 254
Farsi: 242 – 242

Other ways to count …

Social networks

Twitter followers

Unlike our mailing lists, we’re seeing continuous growth for our bigger Twitter accounts. In the last quarter, we picked up 532 new followers in English, for example, as compared to just 296 new subscribers to our mailing list.

English: 14,676 – 14,134
Canada English: 4,422 – 4,073
Canada French: 728 – 666
USA: 521 – 492
Indonesia: 292 – 230
Italian: 290 – 255
French: 224 – 221
Spanish: 76 – 75
German: 76 – 73
Japanese: 21 – 21
Russian: 19 – 19
Portuguese: 7 – 7


Helped by an ad campaign, our biggest growth this quarter was on Facebook, where our English language page picked up 740 new likes, far more than Twitter or the mailing list.

Like page (English): 9,893 – 9,153
Members of LabourStart group: 8,500 – 8,338
Like LabourStart page (French): 478 – 463
Like LabourStart page (German): 428 – 407
Like LabourStart page (Turkish): 161 – 149
Like LabourStart page (Hebrew): 143 – 135


Members: 5,879 – 5,862


LabourStart group: 1,944 – 1,892


Union group on Flickr: 790 – 787


Correspondents: 784 – 773 (news)

Unique users – 24,170 – 35,252

Top countries (by sessions):

This has proven to be remarkably consistent from quarter to quarter, except for Australia’s fall to 4th place.

USA 28% – 25%
Canada 14% – 14%
UK 8% – 7%
Australia 8% – 16%
India 5% – 5%

Most popular pages – page views:

Home page – English 44,076 – 54,062
USA – English 13,854 – 15,024
Canada – English 6,791 – 8,049
Australia – English 2,673
UK – English 2,644 (campaigns)

Unique users – 30,849 – 41,682

Top countries (by sessions):

The very significant growth of Canadian traffic to our campaigns may be explained this quarter by a couple of Canada-only campaigns. One of these was even the third most popular page on our campaigns site.

Canada 23% – 12%
USA 15% – 17%
UK 12% – 14%
Germany 7% – 7%
Australia 4% – 5%

Most popular pages – page views:

China: Stop police violence against workers fighting for their rights – 12,804
Malaysia: Stop union busting in SFI – 5,419
Tell Premier Wynne and Minister Flynn of Ontario to Stand on the Side of Canada’s Workers! – 5,278
Iran: New wave of arrests of labour activists prior to May Day – 4,525
Hungary: Hödlmayr does not respect trade union rights – 4,524

Breakthrough in Europe, and more …

eescYesterday, thanks to the initiative of Silvana, I was invited to address the regular meeting of the Workers Group of the European Economic and Social Committee, a gathering of nearly 100 trade union leaders from all over Europe.  LabourStart was given 30 minutes on the agenda and we followed their adoption of a statement on Greece.  I spoke and showed a PowerPoint presentation (see it here as a PDF), and we distributed LabourStart flyers to all delegates.  There was a lively discussion, and some were quite familiar with our work and praised it.  Others were introduced to LabourStart for the first time and are keen to work with us, including the Lithuanian delegation.

Following the online campaigning course last week in Hattingen, Germany, we’ve heard from two participants — one from Malta who has begun translating our campaigns into Maltese, and one from the European Federation of Journalists who will be working with us on our next campaign.

Our Malaysia campaign continues to grow and is up to 6,459 supporters as of mid-day today.

Thanks to our ongoing ad campaign, we’re nearly up to 10,000 fans on Facebook — we have picked up 247 new fans in the last 8 days, and have just 110 to go.

We’ll be able to revive the Labour Video of the Year competition thanks to our ongoing partnership with the London Labour Film Festival, which takes place this year in September.  More details soon.

The ILO office in Burma has asked permission to translate our book on the Global Labour Movement into Burmese and publish it there.  We’ve agreed.

Finally, I visited this week with a London-based web design company which organized the recent Hack Day at Mozilla which had a trade union theme and at which we made a presentation.  They’re keep to help with with technological issues and have some very interesting ideas (and a wealth of experience).  We’re considering sharing office space with them, so this could be the beginning of a kind of partnership which could help us enormously.


The last 10 days: campaigns open and close, Euro-training, a unionized online book shop, and more

I’m currently in Hattingen, Germany, helping to teach an ETUI course to 22 European trade unionists on online campaigning.  Five of the 25 people in the room attended our conference in Berlin last year.

We launched a new campaign today in support of forestry workers in Malaysia, at the request of BWI.
The China campaign is growing slowly; it was at 10,000 ten days ago and is today at just 10,184.
Unions in Turkey, Italy and Mauritius have asked for our support for campaigns as well.
The ITF’s Kenya campaign has now been closed; we have not heard back from them about the results.
The Portuguese interface for campaigns has been improved.
We’re live with one campaign in Sinhalese now.

Books & other publications:
I’m probably going to resume marketing books for trade unionists through — we still have a partner deal with them and they’re still the unionized alternative to Amazon.

Social networks:
We have an inexpensive ad campaign going now on Facebook again as we race to reach 10,000 likes. We’re up to 9,643 likes today, up 244 this week.

Another week supporting workers in Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, etc.


  • We’ve done most of the mass mailings for the two campaigns launched last week, and gotten them translated into 11 languages, and the results so far are 5,079 supporters for the Iran campaign and 5,037 for the Hungary campaign. A reminder mailing to more than 70,000 on the English list went out yesterday.
  • After 4 months online, we closed the Holcim Lafarge campaign, which had 8,580 supporters — IndustriALL says: “Clearly the campaign made its impact and was noted by the management of Lafarge and Holcim. Thanks to workers’ mobilisations both on site and through LabourStart we hope there will be more readiness on the side of the management to our demands now.”
  • A possible Indonesia campaign was to go live today, but is on hold for now.
  • I’ve posted information on both about our existing Iran campaign and offering help — so far, no takers.

Online campaigning course: Just 4 days left to register — for European trade unionists only:

Activating correspondents: The number of active correspondents increase by 63% following my mailing to all correspondents. In addition, we’ve picked up a few new correspondents.

Facebook Group: Our group continues to expand with many new participants (8,436 members today) and quite a high level of activity. There’s been a problem of spammers, but our team of volunteer admins is on the case.

London Hackathon: There’s an event taking place on 12 June at the Mozilla Foundation offices in London at which people with programming skills will work on pro-labour tools — and we’ll be there and are part of the planning.  I met with the organizer this week.  On the event website they write: “The aim is to provide a forum where people can meet, share ideas and start building some apps that will help workers to organise.”  This could result in getting some things done for LabourStart which have long been on our collective to-do list.

Followup on the police complaint in Israel regarding the LabourStart campaign: We’ve been asked by International Union Rights to do an article on this for next month.

LabourStart in Numbers – Q1 2015

Some highlights of this, our first quarterly report for 2015:

For the first time in a while, we have some fairly accurate statistics from Google Analytics, which answers the question – how many people look at LabourStart? The short answer seems to be — about 42,000. That’s the number of unique visitors to our campaigns in the first three months of the year. Of those, about 35,000 have also visited our main (news) website.

There are some significant differences in how LabourStart is used in different countries.  For example, while Australians are big consumers of our news, providing us with one in six viewers of our news, they only provide one in twenty supporters of our campaigns.

Our mailing lists total over 125,000 — our top 11 lists, all of which have 1,000 subscribers or more — total 124,382. So the number of people who visit our campaigns are only about a third of the size of our mailing list.

Our presence on social media continues to grow, with our biggest growth being on Twitter. We’re also experiencing good growth on Facebook as well.

Mailing lists with 200 or more subscribers – the second number is from the previous quarter

Where the numbers are unchanged, it’s likely that we did no mailings to that list during this period – these are therefore the dormant lists. Of our largest lists, the dormant ones are therefore Korean, Chinese, Polish, Finish and Japanese. Were we to find volunteer translators to regularly mail to those lists, we’d instantly reach 6,109 people, which would generate 300 – 600 new supporters for every campaign.

English: 86,077 – 85,230
French: 8,238 – 8,202
German: 5,708 – 5,568
Spanish: 5,446 – 5,414
Italian: 4,059 – 4,088
Turkish: 3,684 – 3,668
Korean: 3,080 – 3,080
Norwegian: 2,803 – 2,801
Russian: 2,418 – 2,466
Dutch: 1,762 – 1,695

Chinese: 1,107 – 1,106
Polish: 752 – 752
Finnish: 687 – 687
Japanese: 483 – 483
Arabic: 463 – 463
Portuguese: 353 – 353
Indonesian: 346 – 344
Swedish: 345 – 236
Hebrew: 277 – 270
Tagalog: 254 – 254
Farsi: 242 – 242

Other ways to count …

Social networks

Twitter followers

Note the spectacular growth of the new Italian feed. Also very good growth for the main English and Canadian and US feeds, as well as our Indonesia feed.

English: 14,134 – 13,646
Canada English: 4,073 – 3,800
Canada French: 666 – 624
USA: 492 – 442
Italian: 255 – 14
Indonesia: 230 – 179
French: 221 – 218
Spanish: 75 – 73
German: 73 – 71
Japanese: 21 – 22
Russian: 19 – 18
Portuguese: 7 – 7


Our Group – where people can post their own material – continues to grow much faster than our page, picking up 80 new members this quarter, while the page only grew by half that amount. The fastest growing page of ours on Facebook is the Hebrew one, growing by 20% this quarter.

Like page (English): 9,153 – 9,112
Members of LabourStart group: 8,338 – 8,258
Like LabourStart page (French): 463 – 463
Like LabourStart page (German): 407 – 391
Like LabourStart page (Turkish): 149 – 144
Like LabourStart page (Hebrew): 135 – 112


Members: 5,862 – 5,846


LabourStart group: 1,892 – 1,835


Union group on Flickr: 787 – 786


Correspondents: 773 – 762 (news)

Unique users – 35,252 – 7,869

Top countries (by sessions):

USA 25%
Australia 16%
Canada 14%
UK 7%
India 5%

Most popular pages – page views:

Home page – English 54,062
USA – English 15,024
Canada – English 8,049
Home page – Norwegian – 3,515
India – 3,284 (campaigns)

Unique users – 41,682 – 10,810

Top countries (by sessions):

USA 17%
UK 14%
Canada 12%
Germany 7%
Australia 5%

Most popular pages – page views:

Don’t tarnish your love with Rio Tinto’s dirty diamonds and gold! – 11,390
Turkey: 98 health care workers sacked for joining a union – 10,212
Lafarge Holcim: No merger without workers’ rights! – 9,416
Kenya: Truckers held at gunpoint for protesting over 24 hour shifts – 8,360
Ecuador: Reinstate Jimena Lopez this International Women’s Day – 7,882

Tunis, apps, publications, survey, Italy, course, Brazil, and more – another week on LabourStart

I’ve decided to post weekly reports on what’s going on at LabourStart — please feel free to share these with colleagues and friends.  2015 is going to be one our busiest years ever — and here’s the first week …

Retreat – Tunis: We’re moving on this; I’ve sent the necessary letters regarding hotels and meeting space to our friends in the UGTT in Tunisia.  More on this next week.


We’re using two different app-building platforms each of which has drawbacks.  Como builds both for Android and iOS, but it handles RSS feeds badly (it takes two clicks, not one, to show a news story.)  I’ve written to them to get help on this.

Meanwhile, Andromo which is better (and has improved at my suggestion how they cache RSS feeds, because at the moment they show our closed campaigns) unfortunately only works in Android.  This is what is holding up the release of our iOS app (approved by the Apple store, but I’m not satisfied with how it works) and our apps in other languages.

Meanwhile, our Android app has been published in the Amazon store, so users of Amazon’s devices (Kindle, Firephone, etc) can use it; also, users of Blackberries can get their version of the app there.

Publications: We’ll probably begin work on the 2016 Global Labour Calendar this coming week.  Anyone who’s willing to help is invited to post comments below.  We’re also working on two books we’re committed to getting out this year — one on migrant workers, and one with papers and speeches from our Berlin conference last May (long delayed, I know).  (Thanks to Derek for helping on this.)

Survey of trade union use the net: I’ve suggested we consider doing this again; so far, three people have volunteered to help, so next week we’ll probably start work on this again.  (Thanks to Derek, David and Gerhard.)

Italian LabourStart: We now have a Twitter feed and and an email address, and a group of committed correspondents and translators.   The Italian mailing list is our fourth-largest with over 4,000 addresses, and we’re keen to grow it and to be more useful to the Italian unions.  (Thanks Silvana and Andrea.)

Guidelines for new correspondents: This has now been translated into Spanish.  (Thanks David).

Survey of LabourStart correspondents: I’ll make the results available in a few days, but one result is clear: most people do want a discussion forum.  I’ve looked into a couple of the better known options, but will be asking for volunteers to help with this project.  (Thanks to Gisela for doing the survey.)

Online campaigns course: I’ve begun planning for a meeting in Brussels later this month with the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) which has agreed to hold a 3-day course in Germany for European trade unionists.

Brazil project: As you may know, we have received a grant to do some work building LabourStart in Brazil.  I’ve started writing to our contacts there.

LabourStart in Numbers: I’ve done the last monthly report; from now on, this will be done every quarter.