Past Sovereign Grand Commander, John William McNaughton, in his book Reclaiming the Soul of Freemasonry, stated, “We now begin an effort to reclaim the soul of Freemasonry through ongoing and enhanced communication with our members.” How are you communicating with your members? Are you communicating with your members? Is there a theme here? Is communication the key to engaging our members? Bringing new men to further light in Scottish Rite? How are you going to communicate?
So, your Valley has a Facebook page and maybe an Instagram account. That’s great. What are you doing with it? Does your Valley have the ability to send emails to the membership? If so, do you? How are you marketing your Valley and your events to the Rite and your local Blue Lodges? That is all a part of communication. Those apps and programs may seem like a novelty, but they are the modern modes of communication. Harking back to Reclaiming the Soul of Freemasonry, PSGC McNaughton found that there are two main categories of things our Scottish Rite Brothers want:
- More interaction with leadership, more engagement with one another, and the ability to delve into the craft
- Modern communication tools
A solid and robust communication and marketing plan feeds into those needs and wants. So, let’s talk about a little modern American history and throw in some statistics. . .
History and Metrics Around Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
Facebook was created in 2004 and has grown to be one of the largest social media networks, eclipsing MySpace and others. Although Facebook in its infancy was more of a college-age tool, it has morphed into a tool for older adults. Facebook has roughly 2.5 billion active monthly users split between mobile and desktop users. The average demographics of Facebook and some interesting statistics (Omnicore, 2019) are:
- 54%/46% (Female/Male)
- 75% of all men on the internet use Facebook
- Approximately 69% of adults in the U.S. use Facebook
- 62% of Seniors 65+
- 72% aged 50-64
- 84% 30-49
- 88% 18-29
- 75% of online users with an income of >$75,000 are on Facebook.
- 74% of Facebook users visit the site daily.
- Facebook users spend 38 minutes per day using the platform.
Instagram is another social media platform, owned by Facebook. Instagram is different than Facebook as it is more of a visual platform relying on photographs and videos instead of text.
Some statistics from Business of Apps, July 30, 2020:
- 1 billion Instagram monthly users as of June 2018
- 110 million Instagram users in the United States
- 75% of U.S. 18–24-year-olds are Instagram users
- Instagrammers under the age of 25 spend 32 minutes per day on the platform; those older spend 24 minutes, according to Facebook
- 41% of Instagram users don’t watch television on any sort of regular basis
Do those demographics fit who our Brothers are? Do those demographics fit who we want to join Scottish Rite Freemasonry and the craft in general? Yes!
Love it or hate it, Twitter came rolling into the national stage in the 2012/2016 presidential races. Posts on Twitter are called tweets and are limited to a specific number of characters. Twitter can be a great tool for the right audience. Going back to our data from Omnicore in 2019, here are some Twitter facts:
- 24% of all U.S. Twitter users are males, whereas 21% of U.S. Twitter users are females
- Roughly 42% of Twitter users are on the platform daily
- 32% of U.S. Twitter users have higher college degrees
- 38% of U.S. Twitter users are between the ages of 18 and 29, 26% of users are 30-49 yo
- 77% of Americans who earn $75,000 or more use Twitter
Is Twitter right for you? It isn’t for everyone. Do you have Brothers on Twitter? Do you have a business operated out of your Valley? Do you have time to address negative tweets? These are all items you need to think about before you commit to Twitter.
Social Media Teams
I suggest each Valley and COD have a Social Media Team. The team can be as diverse and widespread as your local group but should contain many members to help lighten the load. Because of the different platforms we are going to discuss, you will need those Brothers. Your team cannot consist of one person (well, it can, if you want to replace that person often due to burn-out); the more people involved can spark the creative process and makes it easier to do the work.
Let’s talk a little about Facebook. What do members want to see and interact with? Photos? Events? Degrees? History? Fundraisers? Yes to all. Facebook is an amazing tool that can help you reach out to your members. Use it to disseminate information about your Valley or COD to get the word out on events, topics of interest, and history to everyone. Facebook is ubiquitous in today’s society, so much so that you can easily overwhelm your followers, so try and limit it to no more than 1-2 posts per day. To be successful, your Facebook page should tell YOUR story. Tell everyone about the great works of your Valley or COD. Tell them of events and fundraising and those touching stories. Tell your story. Make sure your Facebook page is open to the public. We can’t get our story out to the masses if we only share within. Facebook is international and you will draw followers from all over, so allow them to like and follow you- mind social media etiquette and review the chapter on social media in the Scottish Rite NMJ’s officer manual!
Provide up-to-date information that can’t be obtained elsewhere or easily. Make sure you follow other Valleys and Orients in the Southern Jurisdiction. Share news from those Valleys/Orients; your members want to know about other Masons and Brothers. Use SRNMJ branding on your Facebook page, ensure your contact information is available (even if it is a Gmail address), and set up automatic replies in Facebook Messenger for when someone messages you. Use the Events tab within Facebook to plan events and to invite your followers and members. You can link to a webpage, or an automated ticketing system if you have one.
Now that you have set up your page and made it "pop," make sure you are monitoring your analytics. Find out where your followers are located! You may be surprised. By checking your analytics, you will be able to see the locations of your followers and see if you need to target other areas to bring in new followers. Please don’t think this is difficult, it’s easy with Facebook. By checking your analytics, you can start to modify your posts to maximize their impact. Perhaps you have a few smaller cities or rural areas in your Valley- perhaps a targeted campaign to that area might bring more brothers to your page.
I don’t want to scare anyone with the word analytics -- it is the data generated by your activity on Facebook. Another great analytic is the information on the interactions your posts receive online. Once you post something, you can see how far your post reaches (number of people) and how many of those people actually interact with the content (click, read, etc.). This data is great to see what types of posts your audience is interested in. Do they like photos? Text? Videos? Links to other items? All of this can be seen in your analytics and can help you model your social media program!
If Facebook is a way to tell stories and share information, Instagram is for sharing pictures and videos. An Instagram (IG) post always contains a picture. Think about some of your friends who always take photos of their meals and post them. IG is the perfect place for that! If you remember the demographics above, IG is popular in the 18–35-year-old group, where 68% of users fall. That is valuable information to know as you plan to use IG. You can use IG to post photos and then include links for more information.
IG is a wonderful tool to use to pictorially tell your story. Have a great shot of a degree stage? Take a photo and post it. Rite on the Road? Use the photo of the kit and then let people know where you will be and when! There are no suggested limits to the number of posts you should make each day in IG. IG is mainly used on a mobile device, but can be manipulated on a laptop or desktop computer by using the developer tools in the menu on the browser.
Don't Forget Email
Emails . . . we all get ‘em. While some may argue that they killed the handwritten letter, emails are fast, cheap, and easy to send to a whole group of people. Gone are the days of stuffing envelopes by hand and the large investment in postage stamps. You can communicate with all your members with just an investment of time. We do suggest you use some sort of mass email system like MailChimp or Constant Contact, as it makes it easy to draft and send professional looking emails and ensures you are adhering to the proper guidelines for your business under the CAN-SPAM Act.
What can you send in emails? The Indiana Council of Deliberation uses MailChimp and their Social Media Team developed several automatic emails to communicate with their members on special days: birthdays, Scottish Rite anniversaries, and for those Illustrious brethren, reminders on the date of their 33° coronation. There is also a way to communicate with the spouses and partners of our brethren and when the time comes, widows.
You can make grand announcements, send out monthly newsletters and run fundraisers. You can even send out structured surveys to get information! These little emails can brighten someone’s day. If you are interested in doing something similar in your Valley, feel free to reach out to the officers of the Indiana COD for more information.
Does your Grand Lodge have a magazine? If your Grand Lodge has a magazine, can your COD or Valley get a page or two to promote the good works of the Rite? The Indiana COD has been developing two ads for each magazine where we advertise the happenings in the COD as well as promote Scottish Rite Freemasonry in the state. Can you reach out to your Grand Lodge to see if you can do that? It may be worth a phone call to tell your story!
Where is the future going to take our communications? Who knows? In March of 2020, would you have ever imagined Thursday Night at the Rite? Or Zoom meetings? Communication is moving at the speed of sound. We are heading towards podcasts, augmented reality (AR) technology, and live content. The sky is the limit.
Your Scottish Rite, NMJ headquarters in Lexington has put together some wonderful material to help you. The Masonic Marketing Series is available at under the "Resources" section of the Scottish Rite, NMJ website for your use! The five-volume series goes more in depth on email and online marketing of your Valley or COD, and a whole volume on Facebook exists. Check that material out, it has great information and more in-depth analysis of what you can do to succeed.
Are you ready to move your communications to the next step? Don’t be afraid to try out new technologies and platforms. We want to reach out to our brothers and friends, and what better way than to use the technology available to us in the 21st century?
Go forth and communicate! Tell your story. Tell our story. Let the world know we are more than just men, we are Masons.