The Power of Social Media & Twitter

When North Harrow Lodge No 6557 joined Twitter back in April 2011, it’s fair to say that we had no idea what the effect on our Lodge – if any – would be.
It certainly seemed like a good way to promote the website, with which we were already beginning to have success in increasing membership numbers.
But just how much power could 140 characters really wield for an organisation that
was stuck in the relative dark age when it came to social media and technology?
Well the answer, 5900 tweets, 1716 followers and a 60 strong Twitter meet-up later, seems to be: quite a lot. And nowhere was that more apparent than on our Lodge’s annual sailing trip in July 2014.IMG_1318
Every year, members of North Harrow Lodge gather at Hamble Point Marina for a weekend of sailing around the Solent. But unlike previous years, there was an added purpose to this trip – and it was all down to a speculative tweet sent a few months earlier.
With nine members of North Harrow Lodge scheduled to arrive in Poole Marina
aboard“Janes Buoy”, a 43′ Sun Odyssey yacht, on 4th July, I made a passing comment on Twitter inviting any available brethren (the Masonic “Twitterati”) to join us for a pie and a pint on the back of the boat.
The response was immense and quite unexpected. So much so, that it soon became clear that our boat wouldn’t be big enough, and most importantly, our limited beer and pie supplies might not meet demand.IMG_1279
In light of the huge interest, WBro Brian Chidgey from Dorset kindly arranged for caterers to put on a meal at Amity Lodge in Poole.
Months passed and the numbers of attendees continued to grow, and finally the day arrived when we moored at Poole and were greeted by WBro Alex McCombie, a few other Dorset Masons and a couple of bottles of Champagne to toast our arrival.
This alone would have been a good enough result from one speculative tweet, but the best was yet to come.
Upon walking into the Amity Lodge, I was amazed to see over 60 Twitter brethren from 9 Masonic Provinces including RWBro Richard Merritt, PGM, VWBro Clive Deakin, DepPGM, WBro Nigel Leonard, APGM and other members of the Provincial Team turn up for what was to be the largest gathering of freemasons ever assembled as a direct result of Twitter.
After a couple of presentations given by WBro NigelHarris-Cooksley on the merits of social media inclusion and Bro Colin Luther-Davies on the activities of the Connaught Club, we were fed a superb four course meal. ThenOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA there was plenty of time to answer questions, chat, network and exchange views with the brethren who had travelled to be there.
It was a fantastic evening, and one we couldn’t have
arranged (or catered for) without the help of WBro Brian Chidgey, ProvGReg and his team.
Twitter hasn’t just proven itself to be a fantastic tool for Lodges to communicate with one another through. It has also enabled us to raise even more money for worthy causes.
A few months ago, WBro Paul Hughes, Somerset Provincial Social Media Officer began the Masonic Twitter pins initiative, whereby small lapel pins featuring the Masonic logo and the iconic blue bird would be made available to promote social media in Freemasonry and it was agreed that the funds raised would be donated and split equally between the 2020 Somerset Provincial Festival in aid of The Grand Charity and the 2020 Middlesex Provincial Festival for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys.
Through the Twitter Gathering in Poole, we were able to add a further £130 to the present total, which in the first three months currently stands at a massive £3,000.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After our hugely successful night in Poole, the next day we were back on the boat and on our way to Yarmouth, the Isle of Wight, Cowes and beyond. During our last few days on the water, we had plenty of time to reflect on what was easily one of the best team building and bonding exercises North Harrow Lodge has experienced so far.
If there had ever been any question of the importance of Masonic Lodges getting involved with social media and keeping up with developments in digital technology, this trip had more than answered them. We have to move with the times in order to sustain the memberships of Lodges around the UK, stay connected and promote Freemasonry.
Twitter is just one proven way of doing it – what’s next?

Maybe a similar gathering at Freemasons’ Hall in the near future ?

We will wait and see, and in the meantime, we hope to repeat the success on our 2015 sailing trip.