Blocking Rogue Twitter Accounts

As I have said before running a Twitter account attracts crazy people, running a Masonic themed Twitter account attracts that special kind of crazy person. These people seem to have nothing more important to do with their lives than to set up so called parody accounts.

But why do they do it? There appear to be three primary motivations:

  1. Trolling
  2. Building a massive network of followers that they “influence”
  3. Spewing Pornographic material

Trolls

The first group are best avoided as they typically set out to annoy or worse, antagonise or attack their target. These accounts typically spew misinformation, falsehoods or downright lies. A good example of this is SavileLodgethe @savilelodge account which purports to be associated with Masonic Lodge 616 (it is fake, check the UGLE Directory of Lodges and Chapters), and the disgraced performer Jimmy Savile. Looking at its recent output shows a catalogue of tweets suggesting that a number of recently disgraced performers are/were Freemasons. I have covered handling trolls in a previous post.

“Influencers”

InfluencerThe second group are less aggressive but no less annoying. They are typified by the host of accounts associated with James Grimaldi all of which encourage you to “follow back in 24 hours for a 10x shout out” and “include #NYG”. I have blocked 19 accounts which bear the hallmarks of this approach.

These accounts are a honey trap for the novice tweeter seeking to build their own network out. However, all you really achieve is a long list of fake followers. These accounts are used by their owners to build a network of thousands that they can then publish tweets to, for money. As their worth to anyone foolish enough to employ them for this purpose is based on the number of accounts that follow them, they only care that you follow them.

BlockedaccountsMy advice to you with regard to this second group is that you avoid them or better yet block them. I am gradually building a list of these accounts as a Twitter list associated with the @HungerfordLodge Twitter account. I have imaginatively called it Blocked accounts and it is public so that anyone reading this article can subscribe to it and use it to protect themselves. In return, all I ask is that you Direct Message me with any accounts that you think should be added to that list so that in turn all subscribers benefit from the update. I will of course have to wade through these recommendations to check that they are genuine. This is my way of paying it forward – if you get chance, see this film, it impacted my philosophy for life.

Updated (04/01/16)

Two things have occurred to me since I wrote this post:

  1. My Twitter list idea only works for a very small number of blocked accounts because it is manual and time consuming
  2. People will believe that simply by subscribing to my Twitter list that they will themselves be blocking the accounts – I am sorry to say  that you will not. In order to block these accounts you will need to manually add them to your block list.

To automatically add accounts to your block list you need to use the Block Together service described below. You will need to follow this link and subscribe to my block list. Once you do this, every time I block an account it will automatically be added to your block list.

Pornographers

As to the pornographers, what motivates them? Well, it can only be website traffic. If you see an image that makes you want to visit their website for more then they increase their chances of either:

  1. Getting you to pay to subscribe
  2. Infecting your computer with malicious code so that it is no longer “your” computer.

How you view the subject of pornography is down to your own moral compass. I typically display my Twitter streams (multiple accounts) using TweetDeck on a 24″ monitor in my study where my pre-teen children come to see what Daddy is up to. Having a stream of pornography on screen would lead to awkward discussions both with them and my wife. To illustrate my point my 8 year old son came in whilst I was writing this post.

Dealing with the problem

As I have already suggested, the only real answer is to block these accounts as you become aware of them.

Blocked users cannot:

  • Follow you.
  • Send Direct Messages to you.
  • View your Tweets, following or followers lists, photos, videos, lists or favorites when logged in.
  • Add your Twitter account to their lists.
  • Tag you in a photo.
  • Tweets from blocked users will not appear in your timeline. However, note that Tweets from others that mention blocked users may appear in your timeline (for example, if you follow that user) or your notification timeline (if a Tweet mentions you).

On an individual account basis, you block an account by

  1. in the iOS (iPhone and iPad) app, tap on a tweet from the offending account. If using the web client on a PC, click rather than tap.
  2. Open their profile by tapping on their picture
  3. Tap the gear icon and select Block

Block Together

(Updated 30/12/15)

After this article was originally published, MASK NOIR made me aware of Block Together. Before I included it here, I did some background investigation. Block Together was written by Jacob Hoffman-Andrews of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and allows users to easily share their Twitter block lists. Jacob is not affiliated with Twitter in any way, he is a Senior Staff Technologist at the EFF and is involved in some pretty cool technologies. I, therefore, feel comfortable in using this tool. If you do not, I have provided a more manual approach below but the block list will not be as up to date as using Block Together.

I have created my share which will automatically update here If you subscribe to my block list, you will block every account currently on that list. Later, if I as the author of that block list block more accounts, you will automatically block those as well. If I unblock an account, you will automatically unblock it too, but only if you originally blocked it through the shared list. If you blocked the account independently, it will not be unblocked.

However, please note Block Together will never block an account you follow so if you have already chosen to follow one of the accounts I have blocked you will continue to follow them.

Twitter Bulk Import

It is possible to add accounts in bulk using a .csv file. Download my Blocklist (Updated 29/12/15). The most up to date list will always be the the one hosted by Block Together as it is automatically generated.

  1. First save the file to your computer. Due to restrictions on file types I can share via this website you need to rename the file type from xls to csv before you can upload it to Twitter.
  2. Navigate to your blocked account settings on twitter.com.
  3. Click the Advanced options drop-down menu.
  4. Select Import a list.
  5. In the pop-up, click on the paperclip icon and find the .csv file. Click Open to import the list.
  6. The file name will be displayed when the file has been successfully imported.
  7. Click Preview. The list of the accounts will be displayed. You can deselect any accounts you do not wish to block (accounts that you currently follow will be automatically unchecked).
  8. Click Block to confirm.
    The imported accounts will be added to your block list.

Summary

Twitter is a wonderful conduit for communicating with like-minded people across  the globe. However, as with any of the social media platforms and indeed any group of people in the physical world, it has its miscreants. I am not setting out to police the Internet, far from it, I am simply trying to give people the tools to handle other people’s behaviour.

If my work helps you, share it with your friends and follow the Lodge on Twitter and Facebook. You might also consider leaving me a comment – due to the special kind of crazy people we attract, I moderate all comments, so it might not appear immediately.

If you are not a Freemason and found your way here by the magic of Google, please read the rest of the site and consider whether what you thought you knew about Freemasonry is valid.

If you are a Freemason, why not visit us one day or invite me to your Lodge.

© Hungerford Lodge 4748

The role of Social Media within Freemasonry

What role does Social Media play in the recruitment, retention and re-engagement of Freemasons?

Lodge Social MediaMany people are struggling to understand the place for Social Media within a fraternity that has existed for nearly three hundred years and for the last eighty years has been largely hidden from public view. For most Freemasons alive today, being a Mason was something you only ever mentioned to those you really trusted.

For the general public, this fosters the conspiracy theories, but it can be easily explained by the fear felt by Freemason during the 1930s as a result of the political situation in central Europe. There are no definitive figures for the number of Freemasons killed as the records did not always record that a person was selected because they were a Freemason. However, estimates range from 80-250,000 killed in the Holocaust.

Slowly, Freemasonry is emerging from this self-imposed isolation, re-entering the public arena and seeking to redress the balance. This is proving difficult for those who have been raised to believe that being a Mason was something that one did not talk about and that the public viewed with derision.

Today Masonic organisations run websites and increasingly are turning to Social Media platforms to get their message out. Facebook and Twitter are popular platforms with LinkedIn being used where Lodges have an affinity with a school, university college or organisation.

The Provincial Executive for Berkshire has defined three priorities for the team currently which are:

  1. Recruitment
  2. Retention
  3. Re-engagement

This is essentially a cradle to grave plan framed as the 3 Rs. So how can Social Media play a role in these three areas?

Recruitment

Many Freemasons have an issue with the concept of recruitment as traditionally we did not recruit, we nurtured interest when it was shown but advertising and naked recruitment was and is generally frowned upon. To this end, a senior Mason suggested that the term “attraction” be adopted which this author prefers, but it does not scan as well.

2B1ASK1This approach was widely described as “To Be One Ask One” which was fine when people were open about being a member but flawed when nobody knew who to ask. The challenge was also that only the brave would be prepared to join an organisation surrounded by all of the negative publicity that Freemasonry was suffering over the last 40 years.

Social Media allows us to address both of these issues. Having a presence on the popular platforms makes it easier for the curious to find someone to ask about joining. Our presence on the platforms also encourages us to publish stories about what we are really doing and thus become more open which promotes a generally more positive opinion of the institution. This should result in a positive feedback loop where more positive opinion results in more people being curious about joining.

Retention

In common with all clubs and societies, Freemasonry suffers with people losing interest in the organisation, perhaps as their family or work life makes it more difficult to attend the meetings. Strenuous efforts are being made to ensure that we keep these Masons interested and engaged even if they cannot attend formal meetings. We want to keep in contact with them, let them know that we are ready when they feel that they can come back and that there are ways to keep in contact.

Social Media enables them to follow the activities of their Lodge and, in cases where they have moved away from their Mother Lodge (the Lodge through which they joined Freemasonry), to more easily find a new Lodge that meets their needs.

Equally, Social Media is playing a role in increasing the enjoyment of those who are active Freemasons. Members connect across the globe with other Masons to get a better understanding of what Freemasonry means in other jurisdictions. Meetings are arranged when Masons go on holiday, allowing people to experience different ways of doing things.

Social Media is also being used like any other communications tool to exchange views, to support one another and to share jokes. All of this can be done via any other medium, but it is easier through these platforms. They are geared to bring together like minded individuals. All of the Social Media platforms encourage you to increase your network by adding people that your existing contacts interact with. This is no different than being introduced to someone new in your Lodge, the pub or at work, it just happens more quickly and as the result of a computer suggestion.

Re-engagement

Inevitably, some Masons will drift away from the organisation, perhaps due to the aforementioned pressures but times change and they may be encouraged to return. Re-engaging “lapsed” masons is a great way to bring them back to the organisation.

Many people use Facebook to keep in touch with family, friends and former colleagues that they have moved away from. Families are probably more geographically dispersed today than they have been at any other point in history. As a result, one of the fastest growing demographics on Facebook is the so called Silver Surfer generation who are using the platform to keep up with their children and grandchildren. As the younger generations move to new platforms, the older generations will inevitably be encouraged to follow them.

With this in mind, it is worthwhile Provinces and Lodges engaging in Social Media to enable these lapsed Masons to re-engage more readily.

Is Social Media the magic bullet?

There is no magic bullet to address these issues, we need to adopt an omni-channel strategy encompassing in person, printed and online communications to reach our intended audience. As with all communications strategies, we need to talk to potential members (including the lapsed and disenchanted) in the medium and language that they are using.

Social media is not the be all and end all, but it is an underutilised part of our toolbox.

© Hungerford Lodge 4748

Sharing the Load using TweetDeck Teams

Turning the key
Turning the key

Running a Twitter account for your Lodge is a big commitment and it is best done as a team rather than individual effort. Up until now the only way to share a Twitter account was for all users to have the username (@AccountName) and password. This might not be the best way. Whilst we all trust each other as brethren in a Lodge, we might also want to adopt the best practice that we would see in our working lives. One reason for doing this would be so that you can turn on Login verification on your Twitter account which adds an additional layer of security helping to prevent your account being hijacked. After all we know that there are plenty of people who would like to take over a Lodge account and set it to send inappropriate Tweets.

There is now a better approach. As you will know from my previous posts, TweetDeck is my preferred tool for “listening” to Twitter feeds ( I currently run four feeds) for the following reasons:

  1. It is FREE
  2. It is owned and developed by Twitter, therefore it will not get broken when they change something
  3. It does everything that the listening part of other tools does without hiding some bits behind a premium account
  4. Integration with Better TweetDeck gives you access to emoji (emoticons) which other tools make more difficult
  5. Did I mention it is FREE!

TweetDeck is now new and improved with a new feature called TweetDeck Teams.

TweetDeck Teams

This feature enables you to delegate access to other Twitter account holders without having to give them ownership of the account. The following example uses two of my accounts:

  • As the owner of @HungerfordLodge, log in to TweetDeck using the Twitter account credentials and from the navigation bar, select Accounts.
  • Select Team @HungerfordLodge.
  • Type the name of the account(s) you want to have access to@HungerfordLodge
  • Select Authorize and an email will be sent to the account. (For this example, let’s say the user being authorized is @MoonrakerX3).
  • MoonrakerX3 will need to Accept the invitation in TweetDeck to contribute.
  • The email address associated with@HungerfordLodge will receive an email that @MooonrakerX3 has been added to the team.

Twitter have produced a short video to show you how this all works.

Assigning roles to team members

TweetDeck provides for two roles:

Permission Admin Contributor
Tweet from account  Y Y
Build/maintain Lists  Y  Y
Follow/unfollow accounts  Y  Y
Send tweets  Y  Y
Schedule Tweets  Y  Y
View/add/remove team members  Y

In most cases, Contributor will be the appropriate role for your team members.

Only the Twitter account owner can

  • access the account using a tool other than TweetDeck
  • change the credentials or password for the account

Once you have established the team, you should change the password for the account to one that only the account owner knows and establish the login verification.

I hope you find this useful and look forward to your feedback.

© Hungerford Lodge no 4748

Why Twitter is like Commercial Radio

When people first attempt to explain Twitter to the uninitiated, they use the analogy of text messaging but that leads to misunderstandings. The analogy is based on the fact that both SMS text messaging and tweets are limited to roughly the same number of characters and that Twitter was originally designed to allow tweets to be submitted by SMS. Using this analogy leads new users to assume that you can tweet people in the same way as they might text their family members.

Twitter is actually a lot closer to running a commercial radio station than text messaging. Bear with me and I will explain.

Tweeting is a broadcast medium

imageYou put your tweets out there and hope somebody will listen to/read them. You can use Direct Messages (DM) but most people only use this to exchange email addresses before moving the private conversation to email.

To target a particular country, region or demographic using Twitter requires funded advertising – a promoted Tweet. Twitter will allow you to pay to have your tweet/advert placed into the user’s timeline – the Twitter name for the stream of tweets. You can then target on:

  • Country
  • County
  • Post Code
  • Gender
  • Language
  • Device, Platform, Carrier
  • Keywords
  • Followers
  • Interests
  • Tailored Audiences

This targeting is made possible due to the amount of information we all give to Twitter in order to run our accounts. This means that Twitter knows a lot more about its users than a typical radio station does.

Your audience is based on your content

People tend to tweet on a given topic which brings them followers and in time they begin to exert “influence” over those users. This is much like a radio station playing classical or rock music which defines their target audience. You can go off topic occasionally but you need to carefully take your audience with you.

You need to be “on air”

imageIf a radio station goes quiet, people assume that it has gone off air. Likewise you need to tweet frequently and regularly so that people know that if they want to listen to/engage with you they know you will be there. The rule of thumb is to tweet at least three times a week and ideally at least once a day.

Nobody wants all adverts

Imagine tuning to a new radio station and finding that all they play, twenty four hours a day, is an advert for themselves. Their audience retention figures would be near zero. Typically radio stations draw people in with the music (or chat) that they like and then refer to the adverts as “messages from our sponsors” i.e. a necessary evil.

If you constantly tweet “Buy my thing” or “Join my club” you will turn people off. You need to find a way to engage your audience before you attempt to sell them anything. This is especially true when you are trying to attract and retain new followers.

© Hungerford Lodge 4748

Tweet when your audience is listening – When is that?

Turning the key
Turning the key

Tweets fall into two categories:

  1. Tweets that are part of a conversation with your followers – they happen in the moment and then are gone.
  2. Tweets where you are trying to start a conversation or promote content on your website.

Tweets in the first category are time sensitive because they are in the “now”, they are part of a real time conversation and so both reader and writer are online at the same time.

Tweets from the second category, however, are often scheduled and as such you need to predict the best time to find your audience online. This post discusses how you discover the best time to tweet and then how you optimise your tweeting schedule. After all, we cannot spend our lives on Social Media, there is a day job, right?

This is the second post in a series, the first describes how to schedule your tweets.

Tweriod

Tweriod is a web-based analysis tool that will allow you to analyse up to 1,000 followers for free. At the time of writing the @HungerfordLodge account had just over a thousand followers, this therefore is ideal. Should you have more than one thousand  followers, you can either assume that analysing one thousand will give you a good guide, or you will need to purchase a premium plan based on the number of accounts you need to sample.

How does it work?

Tweriod accesses your account’s followers from Twitter and analyses their last 200 tweets. This data is then used to generate a report on when they tweet during the day.

How do you use it?

You authorise Tweriod to gain access to your Twitter account and select the analysis (free or paid) that you wish to receive. This analysis will take a period of time, after which Tweriod will notify you that your results are in. You then sign back into Tweriod and review the results.

So what next?

For me, the beauty of the Tweriod application is that it is integrated with Buffer and as regular readers of this blog will know, I am a big fan of Buffer. There is a button on the analysis page that lets you sync your BufferApp schedule with your Tweriod results.

AddtoBuffer
Sync to Buffer

The free plan allows you to analyse your followers once a month, which is probably enough for most of us. If you are in a big corporate with thousands of followers you will probably have the funds to pay for the premium analysis options anyway. Premium plans start from $3.99 per month for up to 4,999 followers. There does not appear to be an annual pricing strategy.

Followerwonk

Followerwonk is a web-based social media analytics tool that will enable you to  better understand your followers or indeed those of any Twitter account you nominate. It offers much more than activity analysis:

  • Mapped follower locations – like Tweepsmap
  • Active hours of the nominated account’s Followers
  • Active hours of the nominated account
  • Word clouds based on the biographies of the account’s followers
  • Inferred gender
  • and many more.
Map showing followed Twitter accounts
Map showing followed Twitter accounts

It also has an integration with Buffer to enable you to inject your new schedule in the same way as Tweriod.

Followerwonk is a tool within the Moz stable and is primarily targeted at the enterprise market with annual fees for the cheapest plan at $237.

Why do I do any of this?

The combination of Tweriod and Buffer allow me to:

  • Compose and schedule content – Tweets, Facebook and Google+ posts
  • Publish content when my audience is listening
  • Put the content together when I have the time rather than during my work day
  • Spread my content through the day rather than flooding it out in the fifteen minutes that I have to do it

Hopefully, by using the tools and writing blog posts about what I am doing, I can keep my audience engaged and broaden the reach of this site beyond the world’s oldest social network (Freemasonry) and into the mainstream.

If this helps one more person understand what Freemasonry is really all about and persuades them to join then I have surpassed my goal.

© Hungerford Lodge 4748

Timing is everything – Tweet when your audience is listening

Turning the key
Turning the key

Twitter and Facebook are like a rolling news service that never stops. They are sometimes likened to a river or waterfall, referring to the cascade of tweets/posts flowing down your screen. As a reader, it can sometimes feel like you are trying to drink from a fire hose, so few people try to read every tweet or post. As a result, anyone posting to achieve an outcome, needs to find ways to increase the likelihood of their tweet/post being read. This author has a clear intention to encourage more people (men and women) to better understand Freemasonry in the hope that others will wish to join.

As it is going to become tedious reading “tweet/post” every time let’s assume that the term “content” refers to either.

There are several challenges involved in getting the timing correct:

  1. Finding a way to deliver content at the best time
  2. Solving the problem that the best time to deliver content is probably not when you have time to create it
  3. When do your “readers” want to see your content and does this vary?

Thankfully these problems are universally felt in the social media world and solutions are at hand. This blog will focus on addressing the delivery of content to a pre-set schedule. A future blog will address the analysis of your readership to understand when they are online.

Scheduling Content Delivery

We have already seen in a previous post that Tweetdeck enables you to schedule tweets and Facebook allows you to schedule posts when you create the post. What happens if you want to post the same content to both platforms? Or if you are looking to post it at several times during the day?

There are two main tools in this space, Buffer and HootSuite This author has tried both and chosen Buffer as his preferred option at this time, however, the pace of change in this space is incredible. The whole area of social media is booming as companies scramble to use it as a channel to engage with their customers. Inevitably there are other companies racing to develop the killer application that makes dealing with this easy. To illustrate this point, I have previously recommended Adam Gray‘s Brilliant Social Media as a good read but this text published in 2013 does not even mention Buffer.

Buffer

Buffer is purely about scheduling content delivery and analysing the effectiveness of the post. It has a well-designed clean interface which is easy on the eye and is not intimidating to the new user. The free plan allows you to connect one account for each platform so that you can see how it works and test the features. However, as a Facebook page needs a Facebook profile you can either have your profile or the page that is attached to it but not both at the same time. Likewise, if you need to manage multiple Twitter accounts you will need to upgrade to a paid plan.

At the time of writing, the Awesome Plan is $102 or approximately £68 for a year or less than three fancy coffees a month.

Having upgraded you will see something similar to the interface below

The Buffer dashboard

As you can see you can connect social media accounts from the following platforms:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
    • Personal Profile
    • Page
    • Group
  • LinkedIn
    • Personal Profile
    • Page
  • Google+

If you click in the box at the top of the last screen “What do you want to share?” you will move to this part of the interface

Creating new content

You type content into the box and then select the outlets by clicking the icons for each platform. In the example above, the content would only go the @HungerfordLodge Twitter account, but clicking on the Hungerford Lodge Facebook account as well, would see the content go to both platforms simultaneously. It is therefore possible to push the same message through multiple accounts and channels at the same time.

Having written your content you can then schedule it by clicking the blue button at the bottom of the screen

Scheduling a post

There are several options:

  1. You can use Buffer to write all of your content and share it immediately using the Share Now option
  2. You can simply elect to Share Next taking the next slot in your scheduling or
  3. You can manually set a date and time.

Web Links

Any web address links that you add are shortened using the Buffer link shortening service. This has two benefits:

  • The link is shorter and therefore leaves more characters in Twitter for the content
  • The use of the Buffer shortening service allows Buffer to track the number of people who clicked on that link thereby enabling its analytics capability.

You can use other link shortening services such as Bit.ly if you have an account with them but the Buffer service is included in all of the plans (including the free plan)

Twitter Analytics

The Analytics part of the tool is where you find out how well your content was received. Shown below is a sample of content delivered recently showing how well different approaches work. If you post content that is only seen by your followers, its exposure is limited to the number of followers that your account has. However, if one of your followers values what you have written enough to Favourite it, their followers will potentially be notified of that, dependent on their notification settings. This is the equivalent to a Like in Facebook. If, however, they choose to Retweet or Share your post then it will be repeated to all of their followers, essentially amplifying your message. This will be reflected in the number listed as Potential. Clicks reflects the number of times people actually engaged with the content and clicked the link.

The post at the bottom received 2 Favourites but otherwise only reached the account’s followers. The tweets from 22nd December reached a wider audience due to the retweets and the tweet with the picture used an @Mention to someone who could use the information. They then responded (engaged) and this plus, the subject matter, caused a greater level of engagement with the audience. The tweet on 27th December was retweeted by accounts with a wide audience but did not achieve the same level of engagement.

Analysing content

Scheduling

This is the tricky bit. You could look at when you are most active on Social Media and assume that your audience follows the same patterns you do. If this route works for you, go to the Schedule tab and set those times up. However, Freemasonry is spread across the globe as will be your followers, so it does not necessarily follow that tweeting when you are online gives the best outcome.

Setting your schedule

Please Note: I have deliberately obscured the hours in my schedule to avoid people simply using the same timings in the hope that it will work for them.

A better approach would be to use one of the online tools such as Tweriod and Followerwonk to analyse your followers to understand when they are most active on social media and inject that schedule into Buffer. This will be the subject of a future post when I have had time to compare the two.

Browser extensions

Both Buffer and Hootsuite offer extensions for the Chrome Browser which make it easy to share content you find on the Internet via your scheduling service to your preferred social media channels.

If you prefer to use Internet Explorer, and many of us do, it does not currently allow the use of extensions. There are rumours that revisions to the browser in Windows 10 will enable this but we will have to wait and see.

Mobile Apps

Both Buffer and HootSuite have mobile apps for iOS and Android. Neither currently supports Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 platform, however, this is not unusual due to the market coverage provided by the two main platforms.

Buffer weaknesses

  1. There is no mechanism for reading your content and so you will still need to use TweetDeck and Facebook to consume other people’s content. However, I have had conversations with the Buffer team via Twitter (they were very responsive) that suggests that this may be addressed in the future. UPDATE: Buffer have recently acquired Respondly which they plan to re-brand as Respond as it becomes part of the Buffer family. I have yet to try this as an alternative to (Better) TweetDeck.
  2. Posting links to PDF files to Facebook results in a very ugly post. Buffer looks at the content you are posting and attempts to create a summary box from it. This works very well for web pages with images or videos in them but not PDF files. I have raised this with Buffer and they recognise the issue. UPDATE: This issue has now been fixed.

Buffer have a system whereby users get an allocation of 10 votes to cast for a feature to be added, or a problem to be solved. If Buffer choose to address one of your choices then the votes you cast are returned for future use. You can also allocate up to 3 votes to an issue you think is particularly important. Needless to say, I have cast 3 votes for getting the PDF posting issue fixed.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite addresses one of Buffer’s weaknesses by combining the ability to listen to your audience and compose and schedule posts in a single tool. This approach may suit other users better, particularly the more experienced social media practitioners. However, this author selected against Hootsuite for the following reasons:

  1. The width of a column for Social Media monitoring is fixed and this constrained the viewable information. With three Twitter feeds and three Facebook feeds this was limiting. I even tried reducing the font size and spanning the window across two 24 inch monitors.
  2. Emoji or emoticon (the smiley faces) support requires the installation of yet another Chrome extension. The HootSuite people responded very quickly to my questions on this and helped me a lot. However, the author preferred Better TweetDeck to handle listening.
  3. The interface is packed full of features and as a result can be a bit off putting when you are new to this space. Maybe in a year’s time I may feel constrained by my current tool choice and change my mind.

Summary

Social media is a conversation. Unlike advertising, broadcast media and even a web site it offers the opportunity to engage people in a real-time two-way interaction. It is therefore important to talk when they are listening and respond in a timely fashion to their comments. It is a very powerful mechanism for reaching out to a wider audience but with great power comes great responsibility and it is incumbent on those engaging in social media to address the needs of their community.

This post, combined with others in the series, seeks to show how we can use the tools to better address the needs of our audience not only Freemasons but those who have yet to start their Masonic careers. After all, Freemasonry is perhaps the world’s oldest social network.

Disclosure

The author recognises that this post may seem like a product endorsement. The author chose the tool of his own free will and accord and has paid for the account he is using. Furthermore, neither Buffer nor HootSuite have had any input into this blog post beyond the help they gave when the author approached them as a user and not a blogger.

© Hungerford Lodge 4748

Website Launch

Turning the keyThis post marks the official launch of the Hungerford Lodge no 4748 website. It is amazing to think that when the Lodge was founded in 1925, the era between the “War to end all wars” and the Great Depression, the times, dates and places of Masonic meetings were regularly published in the local papers.

There then followed a period of retrenchment, during which publicity was considered a bad thing. In part, this was due to the suppression of Freemasonry and persecution of freemasons on the continent during the run up to World War 2 and the war years. Although this changed with the changes to the European political landscape, there has been significant continued opposition to freemasonry.

It has taken a long time to get back to the point where Masons are encouraged to be open and proud of their membership. When the idea of the Hungerford Lodge having an online presence was first discussed at our General Purpose Committee, our current Master (or leader for the year) expressed his own inner struggle with the idea. He was initiated in the early 1970’s and has been a member of the Lodge during the time when news media coverage has typically been negative and Masons were taught to be cautious about revealing their membership. He recognised the need for greater openness as we had evidence that Hungerford residents were largely unaware of the existence of a Lodge of Freemasons within their midst, never mind the good we were doing for the community in general.

The fact that we, as a Lodge, now feel comfortable with a website and a presence on both Facebook and Twitter is a significant positive step, in this writer’s opinion. Furthermore, this openness is not limited to the Hungerford Lodge but the United Grand Lodge of England has a presence on the main online and social media platforms and has recently constructed a YouTube channel.

Some Lodges, in particular the North Harrow Lodge no 6557 have used the online world to turn a decline in numbers into a success story, which has truly inspired the Hungerford Lodge no 4748 to take this step into the online world.

We hope that you find the information on our site useful and we hope that:

  • If everything you have read about Freemasonry before you found this site was negative, we have succeeded in putting the other side of the story.
  • If you have thought about joining Freemasonry, this site answered your questions. If not, please contact us and we will attempt to answer any lingering questions and use the experience to improve our website.
  • If you are already a Mason, please come and visit us when you are in the area.