by R. W. Bro. Wayne Spooner
Using the power of the Internet along with high speed communication capabilities, we have information at our fingertips with an ease that was unimaginable only decades ago. This reality of easy access to data and information is relevant to Freemasonry today. Decades ago, it was common for good men to gain familiarity with Freemasonry from familial relationships which sparked interest and provided ready access to ask about membership. Some of our most “seasoned” Brethren remember those days of long ago and the way that this particular Membership Attraction approach sustained our membership rolls and supported lodge activities. Even though we still welcome good men into Illinois Freemasonry who are relatives (e.g. sons, brothers, fathers, uncles, etc.) of our members, the tide has shifted. Today, we have more good men seeking to learn about Freemasonry who do not have a relative to approach and ask. Therefore, they are turning to the Internet to fulfill those needs.
If you type the word “Freemasonry” into a Google Search, then you get about 16 million results. If you do a similar search for “Illinois Freemasonry”, then you get about 437,000 results. With the amount of information that a good man has to wade through, how can we ensure that he finds accurate and relevant content about our ancient and honorable fraternity? For a significant portion of the Digital Age (that we live in today), our Lodges, Grand Lodges and Appendant Masonic Bodies have predominantly taken a passive approach to sharing our message and promoting our brand. Yes, we implemented websites to provide basic information about our organizations and included a “Contact Us” ability if someone wanted more information. In the meantime, this nifty invention called YouTube gave the human inhabitants of our planet a platform to become a star and share their messages through videos. For whatever reason, a considerable number of people have chosen to make and share videos about Freemasonry; also, they’ve promoted similar content on other social media platforms. Yes, you guessed correctly; the primary message about us has not been gracious or remotely accurate.
Fueled by the unwavering knowledge that the message about our time-honored brotherhood is valuable and has resonated favorably with quality men for centuries, the Brethren around the world are stepping forward to shift the balance of what people can readily find available online about Freemasonry. We are embracing the power of the Internet and social media platforms to share highlights about the good work that we are doing, and welcome people to learn more about us from credible sources. Telling our story via high quality videos is another positive trend and the message is taking hold. Locally, we have taken several steps to begin “reclaiming the message about Illinois Freemasonry.”
In late March, our Grand Lodge of Illinois website (www.ilmason.org) was redesigned by our Communications, Marketing and Branding Committee, and relaunched as the foundation of a comprehensive digital marketing, communications and branding approach for Illinois Freemasonry. This digital asset along with a new public Facebook page, new Twitter page, current Facebook Closed Group for members and current YouTube Channel are all being used as tools to share our story. For example, the new Illinois Freemasonry blog is producing high quality articles that are being viewed by thousands of Brothers and non-Masons. On our website, we have videos, provide beautiful pictures and deliver a clean interface which let’s our powerful content shine for the readers. If you are thinking that the website is great to access with a desktop or laptop computer, then you are absolutely correct. But what about people who consume online content on their mobile devices? Have no concerns; the website is fully optimized for clear, well-formatted and interactive content easily accessible on smartphones and tablet devices. By the way, on that Google search for the words “Illinois Freemasonry”, our Grand Lodge website is the first result shown. We are making great progress in delivering and managing our message. Take a look today, visit www.ilmason.org.
Through these digital tools, we are proudly talking about “Who We Are” as Freemasons. We are highlighting our core Masonic Values like honor, integrity, freedom, equality, brotherly love, learning and service to mankind. The public can quickly learn that “We are a Fraternity, We offer Enlightenment, and We act with Benevolence.” Fundamentally, we are telling the world how we help a good man “become the best version of himself - a Freemason.” To accomplish that profound goal, we share glimpses into our various Masonic membership experiences including how we enjoy genuine fellowship with one another, learn and grow together, and positively impact people’s lives especially through the work of our Illinois Masonic Charities.
We all have a role to play in reclaiming the message about Illinois Freemasonry. With approximately 57,000 Brothers in Illinois which makes us the 4th largest (by membership size) Masonic jurisdiction in the United States, together we can accelerate the spreading of our great message and shine a positive light on Freemasonry. How can you help? On your personal social media pages and in live conversations, share our quality information and content with other Brothers, family members and friends. Let’s use the power of the Internet and social media to promote relevant and accurate information about Freemasonry. Similar to our Brothers throughout history, Freemasonry will gain luster from us, its members, and the people in our communities will know Illinois Freemasonry for “who we really are” and the valuable work that we do in making good men better, supporting our families and serving others!
R.W.Bro. Wayne Spooner - firstname.lastname@example.org
Grand Chaplain | Grand Lodge Membership Development Chairman.