With the #LincsConnectChristmas hashtag set to go live on 7 Sep the big question is “Will Christmas be any different for you in Lincolnshire this year?”
It’s certainly going to be different for me. Some Christmas traditions will be abandoned completely! Four days in London for festive shopping, to see the lights and to see a show or two…. CANCELLED. Spending lots of money (probably too much) on presents and ‘niceties’ ….. CANCELLED. Pantomime on Christmas Eve…. CANCELLED. Festive Christmas Market….. CANCELLED.
Will visits to different Counties for present deliveries still be allowed or will there be travel restrictions? Christmas parties will certainly be different; A Zoom party may be the best we can expect! On a different note completely, many people will be experiencing their first Christmas without a loved one. With lots of deaths as a result of the pandemic many families have been affected by the sad loss of loved ones.
Christmas Is ‘Not’ Cancelled
I for one have been affected by the virus, both as a casualty and financially. Although some symptoms still linger from the virus I’m grateful that they are minor. Financially I have been hit hard by the virus so a big spending spree this year is most certainly off the agenda. However, some traditions will remain. I’m looking forward to getting the decorations down from the loft and seeing the trees decorated. I’m also looking forward to doing some Christmas shopping (yes, I ‘really do’ enjoy Christmas shopping) even though it’s going to be different this year. I think it’s going to be important to keep in mind that Christmas ‘is’ coming and will be here on 25th December just the same as it is every other year. With that in mind I think it’s going to be even more important this year than any other year to support our local Lincolnshire traders. The temptation may be to ‘go online’ to shop and have the presents delivered but please don’t forget that our local traders supported us throughout the pandemic whenever they could and will be more than happy to help with your shopping needs now. It’s been a very steep learning curve for most but the majority of our local businesses have adapted well to the concept of ‘click and collect’ or home deliveries.
If we are to see our local businesses continue to thrive we need to get behind them more than ever now. The supermarkets had bumper sales during the lock down while most local traders struggled to keep afloat. Our High Street has changed with many big name shops either shedding staff or closing for good. If we are to see our economy grow, ‘now’ is the time to support the smaller shops, markets and sole traders.
The #LincsConnectChristmas hashtag will be live from lunch time on Monday 7 September so I have two very important requests:
1. Please use the #LincsConnectChristmas hashtag on your Christmas tweets, Facebook and Instagram posts
2. Please, please, please search the #LincsConnectChristmas hashtag on social media to see what local messages/offers have been posted.
Don’t know how to search a hashtag? Actually, it’s really easy. All you have to do is go to the search bar on your chosen social media platform and type in #LincsConnectChristmas and look at the latest posts. Yes, it ‘is’ that easy!
The Lincolnshire based #LincsConnect #LincsArtCraftHour starts on Monday 7 September so please make a note in your diary to visit the hashtag every Monday from 12.00pm. The hashtag should gain momentum each week and it’ll be an ideal way to shop for local gifts either for Christmas or for any other occasion. In fact, who needs a special occasion? The thing is with art, craft, sculptures, jewellery, decorative furniture and nice things to hang on your wall or put on a shelf, you never know when you’ll find that one single item that really catches your eye and calls out to you in its own special way. Obviously we don’t all like the same things so a diverse array of goodies is what we need and a regular look at the hashtag to see what new items have popped up. Even if you’re not in the market for a new item it’s worth having a look just to help support some local traders by sharing their posts.
More To Come
If there is enough interest I’ll happily include more hashtag hours to help our local traders. How about #LincsAuthorsHour #LincsMarketsHour #LincsGardeningHour ….. What would you like to see? Please take a look at one of my previous blogs to give you some ideas:
Click on the picture or on the blue link to go to the ‘Help Me To Help You’ blog
Help Is At Hand
I touched on the subject of bereavement at the start of the blog but some of you may have found yourselves taking on a carers roll too. If this is you or you know someone who is caring and could do with some support have a look at this checklist from Age UK:
Click on the picture to go straight to the main website and don’t forget that there is always support and advice available from @AgeUKLindsey and @AgeUKNELincs
Mandarin Therapies provides bespoke mobile complementary therapies and injury rehab across Lincolnshire and beyond. NHS, 999 services and Armed Forces are also entitled to 20% discount.
If you would like to have an advert here or provide a guest blog please get in touch.
Don’t forget to wear your mask as directed and wash your hands regularly. We need to keep on top of the hand washing if we are to conquer this virus. Stay safe and look out for your neighbours.
Click on this picture to go straight to the Facebook events page for this exhibition
7 September 2020 – A Very Important Date
Monday 7 September is a very important date for several reasons. The new #LincsArtCraftHour stars at 12.00pm and all Lincolnshire artists, crafters, sculptors, jewellery makers….. are invited to post their promotional messages using ‘two’ hashtags. I’ll explain more a little later but for now, let’s focus on the date. 7 September also sees the launch of the ‘Mel Langton Solo Art Exhibition’ at the Gallery of St. Martin’s in Lincoln ‘and’ it’s the launch of #LincsConnectChristmas too. Yes, I know, you’re probably thinking ‘it’s too early for Christmas’ but the reality is that NOW is the time to start planning and advertising Christmas to raise brand awareness in time for the Christmas season!
The #LincsArtCraftHour will be on Twitter from 12.00pm – 1.00pm every Monday lunchtime from 7 September. The idea behind it is to highlight the talent that we have in the County and to allow you to view what’s on offer. You’ll find everything from cards to jewellery and paintings to sculptures with everything ‘arty’ in between. While many of us are still either reluctant or unable to go shopping on the High Street this weekly hour will give you the opportunity to see what’s on offer. Those posting will be able to include links to their Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, websites and online shops while at the same time showing off their huge talents. ‘Christmas’ is coming but don’t just see this as a virtual shop window for your Christmas shopping. A gift for yourself, a ‘thank you’ card, a birthday gift or even a Mothers Day gift for next year are all possibilities.
Rather than running through all of the information again I’ll let you have a look for yourselves by following this link to the relevant blog: lincsconnect.co.uk/blogs/artcrafthour You’ll also find some info on the Lincs Connect Facebook page too so please have a look to see what you think. I’m still looking for interest in other specialist hours so if you see anything on the LincsArtCraft blog that takes your fancy please let me know. I’ll also be interested to hear if you have any other ideas of course.
Click on the picture to go to the #LincsArtCraftHour blog
How It Works
If you’re posting messages on the #LincsArtCraftHour slot follow these simple steps:
Be sure to have your tweets ready to post (in real time or scheduled) by 12.00pm on Monday 7 September
Include a picture (or two) to show what you are advertising
Include a link to your website, Facebook, Instagram or online shop for people to follow
Include the two hashtags #LincsConnect and #LincsArtCraftHour in your tweet
Search the #LincsArtCraftHour hashtag to retweet and support others and to do your own free networking either live on the day or later in the week. You can search the hashtag at any time 24/7.
Don’t ‘dump’ a load of tweets on the hashtag in the first couple of minutes (even if they are scheduled tweets) as it won’t look good on you. Make sure your tweets are spread out over the hour.
How To Search The Hashtag
Searching the hashtag may be easier than you think. Simply go to your search bar, type in #LincsArtCraftHour, click search (or enter – depending on what device you are using) then go to ‘Latest’. That’s it! It really is that easy so make sure that we make the hour a success by supporting each other. Finally, don’t forget to let your contacts know too. Obviously the more people we have using, searching and talking about the #LincsArtCraftHour the more likely you are to increase your following and make more sales.
Click on the picture to follow Fiona on Twitter or click on this link to find her on Facebook: @fidunkart
I know I’ve posted this before but it’s worth another mention. I think these painted old maps are an excellent idea. If there was ever a way to bring a map to life, this is it! Why not give Fiona a follow on Twitter or Facebook to see what other delights she has in her portfolio?
Mandarin Therapies provides ‘the’ stress buster you’ve been looking for. Bespoke complementary therapies from the comfort of your own home with full Covid-19 safety certification. Gift vouchers available. Call 07966 174878 to book your appointment. Click the start button to watch the video.
Christmas Is Coming…
Like it or not, love it or hate it, celebrate it or ignore it… It’s still coming and we need to start preparing for it. Consider this scenario: You wan’t to get the spare bedroom plastered and decorated before the relatives come to stay – too late! Many of the tradespeople are already fully booked until after Christmas! That’s just one example but there must be plenty more. Unless you’ve been living on a different planet you can’t have escaped the devastation that Covid-19 has wreaked on local and national businesses. Many are suffering with lost sales since March so if you are going to recoup anything from this shocking year ‘now’ is the time to start planning it. Christmas markets are cancelled across the country and town centres may still be in restricted shopping mode for our safety. NOW is the time to plan your advertising for Christmas. If you don’t, someone else will. If you want to salvage some of your lost selling opportunities, NOW is the time to do it. From 7 September I’ll be starting the #LincsConnectChristmas hashtag so lets all get on board with it and start to plan. After all, its just 124 days to go as I type this blog.
Visit the Louth Age UK website for more information about their charity shop. Your safety is in mind and fundraising for those in need is at heart. Click on the logo for details
Are you a ‘vintage’ fan? If you are I think you’ll like this room in the Louth Age UK Shop. It’s your chance to grab a bargain while supporting a local charity at the same time
Click on the YMCA logo to find out how they serve our community and discover why they need our financial support
YMCA Pop Up furniture and Brik-a-brac shop, The showroom, Tritton Rd, Lincoln. The next dates are 26-29 Aug from 10.00am to 3.00pm. Click on the picture to find them on Twitter
Mandarin Therapies & Mandarin Mothers provide a bespoke mobile service throughout the whole of Lincolnshire and beyond. Call 07966 174878 to book your Covid-19 safe appointment or click on the picture to go to the Mandarin Therapies Facebook page for more info.
Mel has a solo art exhibition in Lincoln starting on 7 Sep at the Gallery At St Martin’s, Lincoln with lots of new original artwork. Entry is FREE and there is no need to book but please be aware that the usual Covid-19 safety rules will apply so don’t forget your mask. The art will be on sale of course and the gallery is happy to take card or cash sales. Click on the picture to find the link for more information
That’s about all for now but please don’t forget to make a note in your diary for the #LincsArtCraftHour on Monday 7 Sep from 12.00pm. Tell your friends too
Stay safe everyone
Paint On Canvas…
What image does ‘art’ conger up in your mind? If you’ve ever been to the National Art Gallery you’ll have seen a great many paintings from small to extremely large. However, if you’ve ever been to Tate Modern you’ll have seen something completely different. Art really isn’t just about paint on canvas, it’s much more than that. Of course, we can debate good and bad art until the cows come home but what it all boils down to is ‘do I like it’?
Who’s The Artist?
I can tell you straight away that it isn’t me! If I try to draw stick men I can guarantee they won’t look right. Thankfully we all have our own talents (art isn’t mine) so we can all be grateful for something. I may not be able to produce anything that even resembles art but I do know what I like and I am a collector of art in its many forms. I will buy anything from paintings on canvas through to photos, jewellery, carvings, sculptures, needlework…. You get the picture (no pun intended), I like art! Not just any art of course, it has to be something that I like. That may sound obvious but we all like different things. Surely, that variety is what makes the hunt for a good piece of art so exciting? Who is the artist then? Well, I believe that it is the photographer, the jewellery maker, the crafter, the potter… It’s not just about the paint on canvas but without the paint on canvas the art world would’t be complete!
How Do You Find Your Art?
There are many places to find art and in Lincolnshire we are blessed with some fantastic galleries and shops. Social media provides a good platform for art shopping too of course. I’ve found some fantastic pieces of art and, because it’s on social media I’ve also been able to chat to the artist too. Not every conversation ends in a sale but that doesn’t matter. The conversations help to build a following, the followers have friends, the friends have friends and family… If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, someone somewhere is going to like what the artist is doing and that can lead to sales and commissions.
Are You An Artist And Would You Like To Get Involved?
If you’re a Twitter user you’ll be familiar with the various ‘hashtag hours’ which involves everyone on the planet interacting about one subject in a frenzy of tweets and conversations. Choose a subject and there will probably be a dedicated hour to it! They are fantastic platforms for networking and getting messages seen but they can be very hectic and difficult to follow. By the time you have seen a post, reacted to it and asked a question you could have missed 30 or 40 other posts.
I want to change that ‘frenzy’ if I can. My plan is to have a dedicated hour using the #LincsConnect hashtag on Twitter with Lincolnshire artists of all genres posting their pictures, messages, links and special offers. The beauty of the hashtag is that anyone can search it at any time so if the #LincsConnect #LincsArtCraftHour is on Monday from 12.00pm – 1.00pm you can still search through it on Wednesday or Sunday of the same week, a different week or even a different month. Once the tweet is there, it stays there until the author takes it down. My challenge after that is to be able to transfer the idea onto Facebook so that those artists/crafters who don’t use Twitter can still make use of the idea.
If you’re interested please do get in touch by email so that I can get everything coordinated. You can email me at email@example.com
Lets set a start date:
Monday 7 September from 12.00pm – 1.00pm
How Will It Work?
Here’s the deal:
It will rely on the artists and crafters to post their messages, links, pictures and special offers which MUST include the hashtag #LincsConnect
The hashtag #LincsConnect will automatically post your message to the file for everyone to see. However, assume no one will be looking for you on the hashtag until YOU tell them to have a look!
Post your messages with the hashtag and tag in your friends. Ask them to help spread the message by telling their friends. This cascade of conversation can quickly get the hashtag seen and used locally which will mean your posts will be seen by more and more people.
Don’t worry that you aren’t available during the #LincsArtCraftHour because you can schedule your messages in advance to make sure that they hit the hashtag at the right time.
Here’s the crucial bit: You ‘must’ search the hashtag during the week to look at the posts and do your free networking. Be prepared to get into conversations, say something positive, share other peoples posts… The more you share for others, the more likely they are to share for you.
What’s In It For You?
The posts will be on twitter but I will also do a weekly arts blog. I’ll search the hashtag to see who has been interacting with others and as a ‘thank you’ I’ll highlight the posts in the blog. I’ll also include links to your websites and social media pages.
What’s In It For Me?
I’ll create paid advertising slots, paid blog links and paid features. The whole process will be time consuming for me so I will need to have some form of recompense for my work. Will it make me a fortune? No! Will it pay my bills? Probably not! I always enjoy helping others though and if I can manage to produce a small income from my efforts, all the better.
Click on the picture to go straight to Daves Facebook page or click on this link @DaveSpherical to find him on Twitter
Dave recently joined me on Twitter and ‘Oh Boy’! he has some stunning pictures for sale. In this day and age where photos are easy to take with our digital mobile phones and editing platforms it’s such a joy to see some truly stunning pictures of nature at its best. This is just one picture of many that Dave has taken and is offering for sale so if you like what you see you should definitely get in touch.
Mel is widely known around the County and beyond and when you see her artwork you’ll understand why. Click on the picture to go straight to her website or click on this link @MelLangtonArt to follow her on Twitter
Mel creates some truly remarkable artwork including bespoke commissions like the one you can see above. I’ve been quietly following Mel on Twitter and can honestly say that her artwork really needs to be seen (and purchased of course).
Click on the picture to go to Ellies Etsy shop or click on this link @ElliesTreasures to follow her on Twitter
Arts and crafts go hand in hand and I’m sure you’ll agree that this hand made key ring really is delightful. You’ll find much more on Ellies Etsy shop page so why not pop over (click on the picture above) to discover more. I certainly don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Click on this picture to go straight to the Etsy Shop page of Twibell Arts or click on this link @TwibellArts to follow Serena on Twitter. I’ve been following Serena for several years and am always amazed at her talent and versatility. Not only did she paint the picture of this gorgeous cat (commissions welcome) but she also made the decorations in the picture too.
Manipulating an image (in this case ‘two’ images) to make an interesting piece of art is really special. This image of Lincoln High Street was taken by John and blended with an old image to create a piece of art that goes beyond the normal photograph. Click on this picture to go to Johns website or click on this link @jpbphoography to follow him on twitter.
If you would like to place an advert on the Lincs Connect blogs please do get in touch. Bloggers can also have links to their blogs here too. Get in touch today if you would like to feature here by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mandarin Therapies and Mandarin Mothers provide bespoke mobile complementary therapies (Covid-19 safe) including Aromatherapy massage, Antenatal, postnatal massage and injury rehabilitation. Click on the picture to go to the website or click on the links above to go to the social media pages
PCC Marc Jones is looking for young people to join the Lincolnshire Commission. It’s an opportunity for young people to help the police better understand their concerns and thoughts.
Click on the picture above to go to the website
See You Soon
That’s it for now but there will be lots more happening here so please keep the link handy and log in for a quick catchup when you get the chance.
The rules have’t changed – keep washing our hands as it’s the best way to help control Covid-19
Hashtags – Do They Work?
The simple answer here is ‘yes’ and ‘no’! How many times have you seen posts on social media with the hashtag #ShopLocal on it? As crazy as it may sound, the hashtag really isn’t much use if you’re using it to help people find you. It’s fine as a statement of fact on your post but when you search for it you’ll find that the posts are anything but local. In fact, the posts you’ll find there are for all around the world so if you’re expecting people to find your cheese that you produced in Sleaford I strongly suggest you think again! When I set up Lincs Connect in 2012 I experimented with several hashtags and names before settling on #LincsConnect. Other examples of my trial hashtags included #ShopLocal (ironically I created this hashtag in January 2011 for use on my @MANDARINLEISURE account but scrapped it because it went global) #SupportLincolnshire #SupportLincolnshireBusiness #SupportLocal #SupportLocalBusiness with the latter being shortened to #SLBiz. However, my early research made me realise that the ‘Support…’ hashtags were just too long and people refused to use them because of the amount of space they took up on the posts. Another reason for scrapping them was because they start with the word ‘Support’. When searching social media for relevant hashtags to do with Lincolnshire you’ll find that typing the letters ‘Linc’ into the search bar will give you LincsConnect on twitter and Lincs Connect on Facebook in the top three names to visit. Compare that to typing in ‘Support’ which will give you all sorts of connotations from TwitterSupport to a whole host of other national and international business support sites. It makes sense then that the hashtag to use on your tweets needs to be #LincsConnect as it is at the top of your searches and is truly local to Lincolnshire.
How To Use A Hashtag
If you’re happily adding hashtags to your post but never searching them you’ve truly missed s trick! Here’s what to do: Type in #LincsConnect in your search bar then press enter. Don’t click on the account @LincsConnect as that’ll take you to the account only which means you’ll miss all the good information. Once your device takes you to the messages on the #LincsConnect timeline you need to look for the ‘Latest’ tab at the top of the Twitter page. If you type #LincsConnect into the search bar on Facebook you’ll need to look for the ‘Posts’ tab at the top of the page (this’ll also show you related Instagram posts). Once you’ve discovered these pages you’ll realise that there is a huge amount of information, business posts, personal posts, charity posts and requests for help etc etc that are all related to our local area. Try it now to see what you can find. It’s a fantastic way to network and find out what’s going on locally.
How do you support local? Is it as easy as going to the local shops and picking something from the shelves? In case you hadn’t considered it before, let me share some of my ideas about shopping and supporting locals:
- Shop locally – supporting local traders by buying their produce in local shops, garden centres, farm shops and markets
- Online – Many local traders have online shops. A more cost effective way of selling may be via platforms like Etsy shops or even selling directly via social media
- Don’t forget the local charity shops. Dropping off your unwanted items is absolutely crucial but don’t forget they are there to help raise funds for the many worthy causes that otherwise would’t survive without our support. Buying from the shops is absolutely essential if the charities are to survive.
- Social media – In the 10 years that I’ve been running #LincsConnect I’ve noticed some big changes in how people use the various platforms. I’ve noticed a big rise in the professionally run accounts (some companies run several accounts for different clients) and I’ve also noticed the reluctance of many accounts to share anyone else messages or support others. I’ll talk more about these two subjects later.
Obviously there are many other ways to support local businesses, charities and organisation but I’ll focus on my main observations first if that’s OK?
This concept certainly isn’t new. However, during the Covid19 pandemic it has become much more important and (thankfully) much more prolific. We know how important our local CoOp, Post office, newsagent and Spar shops are. Many of them are in walking distance (for those who are able) and stock locally produced products. Perhaps, with the use of ‘people power’ they might be able to stock more local local produce to help the local economy even further. A polite request from customers or local traders may be all it takes. It’s worth a try! In addition to helping to support local traders (including the shop owners and staff) it must have also come to your attention that during the lockdown there have been less emissions, less fossil fuel burned and less litter. All of these positives are good for the planet so let’s see if we can maintain our recent good practices.
This isn’t something that I have ever considered for my own businesses before Covid19 but it is something that I have been doing during the lockdown. FaceTime and WhatsApp video calling has been a fantastic way to maintain contact with my clients while reducing my fuel usage in my truck. It’s definitely a practice that I intend to maintain. During the lockdown I’ve been busy writing blogs and searching for companies who sell online. Some are using Etsy, some use Facebook and others use Twitter. I’m sure there are other platforms that are equally as good or even better but I haven’t come across them yet. The obvious choice and probably the most popular is direct selling from websites. Many people have their own eCommerce shop on their website which is easily maintained by the trader and convenient for the customer. If, like me, you are a bit of a technophobe you’ll be able to find website designers who will be able to build a site for you or help you with your existing site. If you would like to get in touch with any designers please feel free to ask me for some suggestions. After all, that is what Lincs ‘Connect’ is for!
I often include charities in my blogs because I feel they need all the help they can get. I’ve focused on very small charities through to the very big charities and the one thing that they all have in common is their use of social media. The posts may not raise funds directly but their constant presence certainly helps to raise your awareness of them
Share The Love
Looking at the various accounts on social media I often make up my mind whether I should support them or not simply by looking at their posts. The ones who never share anyone else posts, have conversations or try in any way to support anyone else is a big red flag for me. I find myself asking the question ‘why should I support them when they don’t support others and are very unlikely to support me?’ I’m a big believer in helping others so when I find someone who shows no interest other than to post their own tweets I tend to move on to find someone who is more sociable and supportive.
Buying And Selling
I’ve noticed Fiona @OrigArtPrints on Twitter while searching the #LincsConnect hashtag and really like what she has been painting on old maps. Her main sales come from Craft Shows but obviously they haven’t been open over the last few months so, being creative she turned her attention to Facebook and Twitter for her sales. Facebook has been successful but Twitter less so. However, her Twitter account is a good platform for showcasing what she does and for directing people to her Facebook account. It is important to use more than one platform on social media if you want to increase your client base. It’ll be interesting to see if future sales turn more towards social media and less towards the craft fairs. Only time will tell. I think these paintings on old maps are fabulous. You have to admit, they do bring the map to life. Here is another example:
If you would like more information about Fionas art just click on the picture for a link to her Facebook page. I’m sure she will be happy to see you there and you’ll be Able to see selections of her cards and key rings too.
Websites, Social Media And YouTube
I’m no expert of course but it does appear to me that one of the best ways to find a website (given that you probably didn’t know the sites name or even that you wanted to make a purchase) is through social media. I’ll say that bit again just to clarify, “through ‘social’ media”. Why the emphasis on ‘social’? Well, I’ve noticed far too often that many people are using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to show off their products and gain new customers but quite often don’t realise that they need to talk to their followers to get continued engagement and (hopefully) new sales. Put it this way, if you don’t talk to me on social media I’m not likely to notice you. On the other hand, if you do talk to me but I don’t talk back you’ll soon stop talking to me. Either way, I would be the loser so that’s why it’s always best to be ‘social’ on social media! While being pre-occupied with social media I almost forgot about YouTube. Surely I can’t be the only person who searches YouTube on a very regular basis for music and information? I do think it’s a great platform for showing your products (you’ll have seen some of my YouTube videos if you’ve been reading my other blogs), courses and skills. While the social media could drive potential customers to your website the same driving force could apply to YouTube. I feature a local band of the week each day on twitter and invariably I find the bands on Twitter or Facebook first then either follow a link to their YouTube channel or take a few seconds to search for them in the YouTube search bar. This band (Saboteurs) from Sleaford have really got my attention this week. You can follow them on Twitter @sabsbanduk for regular music posts and updates about upcoming gigs when Covid19 restrictions allow. Alternatively you can go straight to their website www.saboteursband.co.uk for lots more info and a chance to purchase their new album.
The Saboteurs YouTube channel – just click on the picture to go straight there. It’s as easy as that and if you like good Indie music I think you’ll like this too
See You Soon…
I hope you like my brief blog about using social media for selling and finding new customers. Please feel free to leave a comment below and share the post with your friends and contacts. Hopefully I’ll see you when I search the #LincsConnect hashtag again soon.
Bespoke Complementary Therapies from the comfort of your own home