Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Lodge Website

I know I've been away from writing for far too long. Apparently, I had no idea just how strong the hat can pull you away from everything but Lodge business. As a way to segue of comparing my duties as Master of my Lodge, my Lodge has put together a wonderful new website. You can visit the site at corinthian67.org. The Lodge site is an incredibly important tool for Lodges in terms of recruitment but more especially, for retention. I'm going to reveal a few secrets so that other Lodges can take them and utilize them in their own websites. And yes, I may run this website but that does not mean I have any technical skills with "compruters."

First, use an easy to update Content Management Service or CMS. During my time in the East, I said that although free options are available, I wanted to look at the full gamut of CMSes that we could use. We finally arrived at SquareSpace. SquareSpace is an amazing way to present a website. We required little to no training to get the website off the ground. We can update the content on the fly and if we are bold, we can even use the iPhone application to update. Also, the backend is flexible and allows us to try all kinds of different looks, feels, and logical arrangements of content. It is well worth the money you will pay.

Second, if you publish a newsletter, you can recycle the articles used on the site for the newsletter. And obviously, put your newsletter on the web as a way to get brothers to click and look at the full color option, thereby saving money on a color printing. You can even offer your newsletter as an email to those brothers with email while sending out a newsletter to brothers that don't.

Third, have a box for sending messages easily accessible. Ours is within one click of any page. This means that the curious reader, or person looking for information can easily research through our site and then hit us with an email to ask a question.

Fourth, create Lodge specific emails for all officers. Therefore, if you're looking for a specific officer, you can easily send them an email with little to no effort. Therefore if someone sends a message to master (at) corinthian67 (dot) org, that email will come to me only. If a person is curious about what is being served, they can write an email to srsteward or jrsteward. To talk to the secretary it's just secretary (at). This makes the flow of emails manageable. Also, if some event needs the attention of a few of the officers, you can mix and match who you will be sending the message to. Setting this up is easy and free through Google Apps. And yes, it is free. Included in Google Apps is the ability to use and to place a Google Calendar for your Lodge on your site. Another really great Lodge site is for Accacia Lodge and specifically their use of the calendar. Unlike most Lodges, Accacia is a moon lodge which means it meets on the Wednesday during the week of the full moon. How can brothers find out when they meet? By checking the Google calendar right on the site. A brilliant use for an important need. (Also, check out the rest of Accacia site, it looks amazing. Brother Greg, awesome job.)

Fifth, create a MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter page for your Lodge. You may ask why you would do something like this if you already have a website up? The reason you would put up these types of sites is to complete the circle. Men are looking for our Lodges in every corner of Internet and you need a presence at every location you can. Additionally, these services are free. My Lodge has a Facebook and MySpace to post upcoming events while our Twitter account posts the content from either of these sites for more mass consumption. On Facebook, brothers can be invited to upcoming events and it can give you a better sense of the number of brothers who will be coming. On Facebook, the concept of Fan page is incredible. Brothers and friends can see when some event, pictures or other content is posted on their news feeds and can then be shared even further out. It's that old commercial of telling two friends and their friends and so on and so on.

Sixth, make sure to check with your Grand Lodge to find out what they expect from your site. In Minnesota, a site is presented to the Grand Lodge and they approve it. If it is approved, a message is to be displayed at the bottom of the site showing that this site has been approved. After the site has been approved, the added benefit in Minnesota is that the site is included in the Lodge's general listing on the Grand Lodge site.

Finally, you need to be willing to keep up the content. That is you're number one job. If the content is not adequately up-to-date, people will think that you are irrelevant. You need to make sure that all of your officers' names are up on the site and up-to-date. No one wants to see Officers 2005-2006. Just like the ritual, if we don't present our website content well, the petitioners and candidates won't take us seriously either.

I have to give credit where credit is due. Our current Senior Steward and newly awarded Mason of the Year for Corinthian Lodge, Dan laid out our site and helps keep it up to date. He has done an incredible job and I want to applaud just how well he has done this task.

What ideas do you have for Lodge websites, how do you make them look good, and what hosting service do you use? Leave a comment so that we can make all our Lodge website look as good as we possibly can.

3 comments:

Joe said...

Worshipful,

Lodges shouldn't also be afraid of cost. Lodges can have great success by utilizing Google Sites and their auto mad integration. Also, there are free apps that will sync your Google Calendar to your Facebook events feed, and also allow you to create a blogpost and automatically update Facebook and Twitter. This saves time and created uniformity of content.

Fraternally,

Joe
www.singletonlodge.com

Joe said...

Apologies for the typo, I am using my iPad.

The Millennial Freemason said...

Great point Joe. I talked to Bro. Greg at Accacia and he pointed out the ability to use RSS feeds on the calendar in many different ways. He pointed on his site to the fact that the next event always appears on their main page to the right without added entry work. Google offers amazingly responsive and self-populating tools for free. We live in amazing times.

I also noticed your Lodge's site. It looks great and is well organized. I also noticed your twitter account. http://www.twitter.com/SingletonLodge I am now a follower.

Nick