by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Adam Thayer
How about that headline? Pretty exciting, wasn’t it? Definitely made you want to click right through, and see what those secrets might be… Of course, if you’ve been on the internet for any length of time, you recognize this as what is being called “clickbait”. It’s a headline specifically designed to get your attention and get you to view the page, so that the owner can get some of that sweet advertising revenue from your views.
Why does it work? Well, there are two main aspects in play here. First, they are promising you something exciting and interesting, and perhaps even secret. Second, the human brain is oddly wired to find enjoyment in list-formats, because it tells them roughly what to expect, and approximately how long the experience will last. It’s crazy, and psychologists are still trying to figure out exactly why it works from an evolutionary standpoint. For marketers, it doesn’t matter why it works, they just know that it does.
For most of our existence, Freemasonry has avoided the “clickbait” trap of marketing. Instead of making attractive offers to induce membership, we’ve relied on a quiet word-of-mouth campaign to let the public know what we’re about, and gathered new members who came of their own free will. If you’ll indulge me (and if not, why are you still reading this?), I’d like to try something a little different:
Become a Freemason and learn the FIVE SECRET WORDS that can CHANGE the WORLD.
If we marketed Freemasonry like that, how many new men would we have pounding down our doors? Can you picture billboards and radio ads blasting that message, reaching parts of the public that we’ve never reached before?
What quality of men would we get? Would we get the men we want, who are going to contribute to the betterment of the fraternity? Or would we get the curiosity seekers? In short, would we get the best of the best, or the worst of the worst?
Clickbait marketing works, pure and simple, but is it a good fit for Masonry? I once wrote about recruitment in terms of a shotgun and a sniper rifle, and clickbait marketing is the purest example of the shotgun approach. Do we try to attract everyone, in the hopes that we get some good diamonds among the coal? Or do we continue to be selective in who we let in, at the risk of overlooking good men and potentially going extinct due to lack of interest?
The question I keep coming back to is: Don’t we already do this with our Rites? I can’t speak for how your experience has been, but I joined both the Scottish and York Rites on the promise that I would gain a further understanding of the symbolism in our craft, in ways that I could use in my own life to improve myself. Instead, I found ritual that was performed out of a book, by men who didn’t understand what they were trying to teach, and business meetings that were more stuffy and stilted than the Blue Lodge meetings that everyone complains about. Of course, not all areas face the same issues that my region does, so if you’re in a Rite where you’re getting good education, AWESOME! I hope you can help to spread that to other regions that aren’t doing it!
To me, it illustrates the true downside of clickbait marketing: you can attract viewers (or in our case, members) with it, but you won’t necessarily keep them. Even if you have great substance to back it up, you’re going to lose a majority of what you’ve gained; anything easily gained is also easily lost.
Unfortunately, I’m seeing the trend of clickbait headlines creeping into our education as well. On some other Masonic sites out there, I’m starting to notice more and more headlines that read like they’re an article from BuzzFeed or Cracked: “Twelve Secrets Of Freemasonry That You Didn’t Know”, “Four Surprising Men Who Were Masons”, and so on. They’re sacrificing content for clicks, and it shows; it is no surprise to anybody that George Washington was a Freemason, we all are aware of that, and you can’t claim to be shocked to tell us!
(As a side note here, I’m specifically NOT naming those sites, because I still have a lot of respect for them. To the brothers who run them and are doing this: please stop, it’s degrading to all of us.)
I’ve written myself into the worst place for an author to find himself: I have provided the problem, but I don’t have the solution! As a writer, I hate not being able to neatly wrap everything up in a bow for you, but as a Freemason I’m actually pretty happy about it. Freemasonry, regardless of what people tell you, doesn’t always provide the answers, but instead gives you the tools to start finding them yourself.
Now, if you want to find out what the actual answers are, tune in next week when we present “Adam Thayer Provides The Seven Answers That YOUR GRAND LODGE Doesn’t Want You To Read!!!”
Bro. Adam Thayer is the Junior Warden of Lancaster Lodge No 54 in Lincoln (NE) and the Worshipful Master of Oliver Lodge No. 38 in Seward (NE). He’s an active member of the Scottish Rite, and Knight Master of the Lincoln Valley Knights of Saint Andrew. Adam serves on the Education Committee of the Grand Lodge of Nebraska. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
You hit this one right on. Freemasonry only thrives in cultures where the young men are exposed continually to hard choices, and where they continually make the right choices. Freemasonry is a support system for good men who want to socialize with other good men.ReplyDelete
The wimps being produced by society, today, have been deprived of situations where they have to make hard choices to prove their good character. The men, today, may have to be thirty or forty years old before they have had enough hard experiences to determine whether they would need Masonic brotherhood, or not.
No marketing gimmick can fix this. People cannot be fooled into believing they have good character. Good character must be earned, first, and then the man will see his need for Freemasonry.