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
Are you a lunchtime or evening meal sort of person? Whether you prefer to call it dinner or tea it makes no difference but I’m guessing the majority of people reading this will have their main meal in the evening. Perhaps the ‘lockdown’ has helped to change your eating habits? I do know that initially (way back in March) we were all suddenly thinking about food and toilet rolls. However, the initial rush and panic seems to be over now and our shopping habits are starting to return to something close to normal. Have you been missing your normal foods though? Many of them have been in short supply and we have been discouraged from nipping out to our favourite restaurants to eat with friends. However, some Lincolnshire companies have come up with some ingenious ways of surviving the lockdown so I thought I would share with you some of the establishments that I know of who are still trading and supplying take-away food and drink for us all to enjoy.
We don’t have to wait for the sun to go down to enjoy our dinner (or is it tea)? but it does pay to plan ahead. If you’re looking for something for lunch, dinner or an evening feast let’s see if we can share some ideas. I’ll list some of the Lincolnshire establishments that I know of but it certainly won’t be exhaustive so if you know someone that I’ve missed out please let me know in the comments below:
Caythorpe Water Mill are providing takeaway pizzas and burgers so if you’re in the area why not pre-book yours today? Just click on the picture to place your order or telephone 01507 451366
Lincolnshire Poacher Cheese provide delivery throughout the UK as well as pre-arranged sales direct from the farm. Click on the logo to go straight to their website www.lincolnshirepoachercheese.com or follow them on twitter @Poachercheese
Mail order Poacher Cheese delivered straight to your door. Click on the picture to go to the Lincolnshire Poacher Cheese Twitter page
Apley Lamb (Near Wragby) offers a free local delivery of freshly boxed lamb cut to order. Click on the logo to go straight to their facebook page or follow on Twitter @ApleyLamb
Post Covid-19 – Are We Ready?
Without doubt things have changed. The way we have lived our lives, the way we have thought, the way we have communicated, the way we have shopped….. A huge proportion of what we’ve done over the last few months has changed compared to what we were doing in February. I never would have thought that I would have managed without my car but since the Covid-19 outbreak my car has been on the drive and hasn’t moved other than to roll it forwards or backwards a few inches to prevent flat spots on the tyres. There will be a time in the not too distant future when I’ll be using it again of course. Being a mobile masseur and Personal Trainer I’ll need to be thinking of ways to see my clients again while keeping them (and myself) safe. We do of course, have the threat of re-infection looming over us so now is the time to make adjustments to help prevent that from happening.
Social media has been a lifeline for many of us as it’s allowed us to maintain contact with friends and followers throughout the lockdown. I’ve used it to collate lots of information and keep in touch with all sorts of people. It’s reminded me just how resilient we are and how well we can adapt. However, we are entering a new era at the moment where some of our old rules and precautions need to be revised. Shops are starting to open again which really is positive news but I wonder how many shop owners and local businesses have really thought through the precautions required for safely re-opening or increasing the staff levels in the immediate aftermath of Covid-19? Social (or should that be ‘physical’) distancing is at the top of our agenda at the moment of course. Those of us who have used the supermarkets recently have become used to it very quickly and the small businesses (butchers, bakers, local food stores) have become adept at restricting the numbers of people allowed in the shop at once.
Recent conversations on social media with Alex of The Specialist Safety Group have made me realise that many of us may not be as ready as we thought we were for the ‘grand re-opening’ of our businesses. Yes, we all know about distancing and restricted entry to our businesses but have we considered other Health & Safety at Work issues too? We don’t want, or anticipate having a fire at work but we have to plan for it. How would fire evacuation change with the new distancing precautions? Perhaps we have a dedicated first responder at work should someone be taken ill. Have rules change with the distancing precautions? Perhaps insurance companies may require us to have new documentation/risk assessments post lockdown? What about cleaning? Will our ‘normal’ cleaning practices need to change? I know my cleaning practices will have to change. My massage couch and exercise equipment will need to be cleaned with different solutions from now on.
If you have any concerns about starting up again and returning to ‘business as normal’ you might like to chat to Alex at the Specialist Safety Group Ltd. He has a dedicated ‘Return To Work Safely’ package that normally costs around £339.00 but by quoting this LincsConnect blog you’ll be able to receive a 10% discount. I’m sure this offer won’t last forever though so contact Alex on 07870 760 145 to confirm your discount. You can also email him at email@example.com or click on the logo above to go straight to the website
Stourton Estates is delivering Venison around the County and orders over £25.00 can enjoy FREE delivery within 20 miles of LN9 5PB
Mountain Abbey Parks Farm Shop selling fresh and cooked meats, chutneys, plumb bread….. You’ll need to click on the picture to follow the link to their Facebook page for a full list!
Fully online and sold locally around the County you can easily get your hands on some of these award winning botanical chocolates. simply click on the logo to go straight to Fionas’ website to learn more or click this link Sciolti Chocks to follow on Facebook
Sandhams Wine Merchant in Caistor offer both in store (social distance rules apply) and mail order options with a huge range of wines and easy to navigate price list. Click on this link to go to their Facebook page or click on their logo to go straight to the website
Docks Beers is more than just ‘beer’ but you’ll need to visit their shop to discover their full range – and it’s all delivered too! If you fancy a gin, they’ve got that covered too. click on the logo to go straight to their website/shop.
For more information about Docks Beers click on the photo to go to their facebook page or follow them on twitter @DocksBeers
Message In A Bottle deliver a huge range of drinks across Cleethorpes & Grimsby. From local to international beers, gins, rums…. You need to check their website for a full list. You can find them on Facebook by clicking on their logo or or on Twitter @miabcleethorpes
This picture says it all so just click on it to go straight to the order page. Enjoy
Let’s Get Back to Doing What We Do Best
I don’t know about you but I’m really ‘chomping at the bit’ to get cracking again. I love helping people and making them feel better whether that’s through exercise, massage, injury rehabilitation or injury prevention. Many people will have been suffering with stress related problems since the lockdown and my diary is already starting to fill with new clients who are suffering with neck, shoulder, back and sleep issues as a result of the lockdown. If you are in need of help please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or pay a visit to my website www.mandarintherapies.com or www.mandarinfitness.com where you’ll get a better idea of what I have to offer. I’m also on facebook of course Mandarin Therapies & Mandarin Fitness so feel free to follow me there too.
CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO PLAY THE FULL VIDEO
When I say I have a website; if you visit it you’ll quickly notice that it’s a very old site. I do have a new one but I would much rather be doing my fitness and therapies than ‘wasting time’ on the website stuff! Am I alone? Does anyone else put off doing admin ‘stuff’ in favour of getting on with the real work?
As a sole trader I really value my time with clients and would much rather be doing what I do best than shuffling paper and files! Needless to say, much of my admin work gets put off to the last minute before getting actioned. I know I shouldn’t but…!
Perhaps I should consider the services of a Virtual Assistant (VA)? I’ve been chatting to Nikki from www.Time4U-VA.co.uk who certainly seems to have the admin sorted! My muddled, dyslexic brain is reflected on my muddled and (seemingly) disorganised desk. Unlike Nikki who is adept at multi tasking with a clear desk. Is there such a thing as desk envy?
Perhaps it’s time to re-think my working practices? I know that I’m going to have to work very long hours (and probably 7 days a week) to catch up with the backlog of work over the months between now and Christmas. I’m guessing that my experience will be mirrored across many industries and not least by the food & drink industries. Let’s face it, Lincolnshire has some fine artisan food and drink producers as well as some fantastic restaurants and bars. Preparing and serving or delivering these fantastic products is a passion for most but I wonder how many really have the time for updating menus and completing the admin? Don’t get me started on book keeping! Thankfully I don’t have payroll issues being a sole trader but I can imagine they will be a necessary evil for many businesses. Perhaps ‘now’ is the time to consider how we are going to tackle the admin while staying on top of our game with our work. Perhaps Nikki can help you?
Click on the logo to go straight to the website
Fully Online – You can order your No 12 Chocolatier handmade chocolates online now and receive them in the post. That’s an offer you can hardly refuse! Follow @No12Chocolatier on Twitter and just click on the picture to go straight to the online shop.
Uncle Henrys Farm Shop is providing a home delivery service within a range of 10 miles but don’t let the Gainsborough address fool you as it’s situated on the A15 and the delivery range is quite extensive. Click on the picture to follow them on Facebook or follow them on twitter from here: @unclehenryslinc
Brakes Food Hub in Grantham provides the full call & collection service for all of your food shopping from fresh to frozen to cake to…. you’ll need to click on the picture to go to their website to see more. Offering a call and collect service 7 days a week. Tel 0344 800 4900 (option 4) place your order. Follow @John_Nicky on twitter too for more updates.
Gelston Lamb deliver in the Grantham/Sleaford areas. Click on the picture to go to their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter for more updates @GelstonLamb
Teaspoon Tea Company have a free local delivery service and a full mail order selection including tea, coffee, gift packs, gift vouchers, birthday cards, chocolate by @No12Chocolatier honey by @ArtisanHoneyCo and quite a bit more. Click on the picture to go to their website. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised
Anderson’s Family Butchers are providing a ‘text and collect’ system in Heighington. Simply text our order then collect when it’s ready. 07983003435 or 07880745083 – click on the picture to follow on Facebook
The Inn On The Green, Ingham (on the outskirts of Lincoln) are providing a local takeaway service of food and drinks. Click on the photo to go straight to the order form and you can follow them on Facebook The Inn On The Green Ingham
The Bowl Full Tapas restaurant will be providing pre-paid take away meals from 15 May. Click on the picture to go to their Facebook page or follow them on twitter @BowlFullTapas
Browns Pie Shop – Orders are cooked and delivered cold for re-heating at home. Orders can be delivered or collected. Click on this picture for more info or call 07809 477126 to pace an order
Cafe Portico are now providing take away pizza for your delight. Orders taken from your car (or on foot if you’re walking there), cooked to order and delivered fresh to you when it’s ready. All made possible with mobile contactless payments. Click on the logo to visit their Facebook page or go to their website for the latest menu www.cafeportico.co.uk You can also follow them on twitter @CaffePortico
Grow Your Own
Isn’t it fantastic that we have all of these lovely local Lincolnshire restaurants, cafes and takeaways who’re working hard to serve us during the lockdown and beyond. They really have been up against it and are a testament to the resilience that has been so evident during the lockdown. Being in Lincolnshire we’re lucky to have such wide open spaces with lots of farmers producing some superb crops for us and for the local restaurants. Wouldn’t it be nice though if we could produce some of the fruit and vegetables for ourselves? Not all of us are able to enjoy a large garden so perhaps a vegetable patch isn’t a high priority when we need to consider making our space into a multi purpose area for children to play and for us to relax. However, having chatted to Simon (you may remember him from previous blogs) I think he’s found the perfect solution. If you have space for a straw bale in your garden or yard it appears that you have space for a vegetable patch!
Having looked around Simon’s website I’m at a loss as to what to include here. Not only does he run StrawbaleVeg growing courses from your own home (corporate events too) but he sells own brand seeds at realistic prices. I was very impressed to learn that while some others had increased prices significantly during the lockdown Simon kept his prices static. Well done Sir, I’m very impressed. It’s little things like this that catch my attention and impress me the most. I digress – who would have thought that you could grow your vegetables in a concrete yard or in such a small space? Obviously Simon did and I think it’s a fantastic idea. I was going to include pictures of the vegetable seeds that he supplies but there are far to many to list here. If you click on the picture above you’ll be taken straight to the www.strawbaleveg.co.uk website where you’ll be able to make your won selection and have them delivered.
Click on this picture to purchase The Strawbale Gardeners Handbook Vol 1
Would you believe that Simon has also produced an eBook which can be downloaded by clicking on the picture above ‘and’ a DVD that can be purchased from the website www.strawbaleveg.co.uk – you have been busy Simon!
Curry Jacks provides a mobile service around the Lincoln area on a Pre-Order basis. Take a look at their Facebook page for regular updates by clicking on the logo or follow on Twitter @CurryJackscaf
Damons, Doddington Road, Lincoln will be offering a drive through service from Thursday 21 May 20. Call ahead with your order (01522) 887722 or click on the menu to visit their website
Doddington Hall Farm Shop are still open for your shopping but please obey the social distancing rules. Follow them on Twitter @DoddingtonHall or click on the logo to find them on facebook.
FAB Craft Beer from Fiskerton are busy delivering boxed beer as well as bottled beers around the Lincoln area so why not click on the picture to follow them on Facebook or perhaps follow them on Twitter too @FABcraftbeer
The Garden Tea Room in North Hykeham is providing a Lincoln and surrounding area home delivery service for a modest £2.00 and they also have cakes, cheesecakes and lots more goodies to choose from. Click on this picture to follow them on Facebook and take a look at their menu below:
Burton Waters is the home to The Greek House who are now providing takeaway meals. Have a look at their menu and pre-order on 01522 542758. Click on the menu to follow them on Facebook
Imperial Teas of Lincoln are providing FREE DELIVERY on their mail order teas and coffees right now. That’s a great offer that can’t last forever so be sure to get your order in quickly. You can follow Imperial Teas Lincoln on facebook or on Twitter @Imperial_Teas Click on the logo to go straight to website to make your order – If you like your coffee strong I can personally recommend the Voodoo Comet.
Lincolnshire Brewing Company – delivering a selection of beers to suite every taste or collect directly from Langworth. Click on the picture to find them on facebook or follow them on Twitter @LincsBrewCo
MaCH Indian Restaurant (Wragby Road) are now offering a takeaway service. Click on the logo to find them on Facebook or go straight to their website to place your order www.machrestaurant.co.uk
Ole Ole Tapas Bar offer a delivery and (social distancing) collection service for their meals. Click on the logo to go to their Facebook page and click on the link here to go straight to their menu/order form www.oleolelincoln.co.uk or call them on 01522 534222
Lincoln & Gainsborough – Redhill Farm Shop offer a delivery and contactless collection service with safe in-store shopping too. Click on the picture to go straight to their website or follow them on Twitter @RedhillFarmPork
Sammys Chinese takeaway is set to open again on 20 May with social distancing rules in place (of course). Click on the picture to go to the ‘Lincoln food To Go’ Facebook group page. You can find Sammy’s Kitchen at Unit 11 Lambeth House, Woodhall Drive and you can call to make your order on 01522 567333
Cafe Shanti Vegan restaurant are now doing take away hot and frozen food (including breakfasts and curries) so why not order yours today? you can call them on 07735161481 or find them on twitter @Cafe_Shanti and Facebook by clicking on the picture
Veg Out Lincoln provides a delivery service in the Lincoln area including a vegan inspired recipe box and plant powered food plan. Gemma will have her new online booking site and new website ready very soon but in the mean time you can contact her through twitter @vegoutincoln or click on the picture for a link to her book
Beaumon’t Deli on Bridge Street in Louth are open to take your orders. You can follow them on Facebook Beaumont’s Deli or call 01507 355927
Takeaway Weekends. Call 01778346952 to order or click on this picture to go to the website
Cote Hill Cheese delivers cheese and milk locally. Click on the picture to go to their Facebook page
Minting (near Wragby) Farm Shop has a collection service with your safety in mind. Give them a call today to place your order. Click on the logo to go straight to their website
Lymn Bank Farm handmade cheese. FREE delivery on orders over £20.00. You can follow them on Twitter @lymnbankfarm or click on this logo to go straight to their Facebook page
FREE DELIVERY. Go too www.postacheese.com for details and your order form or click on this picture to take you straight there.
A Little Luxury Distillery is still taking orders for Gin & Rum which will be delivered direct to your home. Click on the picture to go to the shop or follow on Facebook A Little Luxury and Twitter @ALittleLuxuryLt
A real pub providing real beer. Buy a bottle and bring it back to get a refill – what an excellent idea. Click on the picture to find them on Facebook for an up-to-date- list of times and ales
Takeaway Afternoon Tea from @TheElm_Tree just outside Spilsby. Click on the picture to find them on Facebook and don’t forget, you can buy gift vouchers too!
Woodhall Spa Bakery & Delicatessen provides fresh bread, cakes meats and much more. A gem in the Woodhall Spa crown offering Safe Distancing shopping. Click the picture to go to their Facebook page
The India Village restaurant and takeaway are providing takeaway meals during the lockdown. If you would like to order your meal click on the logo to go to the website or follow them on Facebook India Village. Alternatively you can give them a call on 01526 354657 or 01526 352223
The Tea House In The Woods is providing a range of foods from Afternoon Tea to Roast Meals and they’re all Take Away too with strict social distancing rules. click on the picture to go to their website or give them a ring on 01526 354455. You can also find them on Facebook at Tea House In The Woods
All this talk of food has made me quite hungry! This list is going to be added to but I’m going to get myself something to eat now. Bon appetite everyone and please don’t forget to let me know if there are any takeaway/safe shopping food outlets that need to be on here as I can add them later.
Mandarin Therapies provides a bespoke mobile complementary therapies service from the comfort of your own home. Gift vouchers are available now then book your massage for later in the year. Mandarin Therapies “Feel the difference”
Having experienced several scares on the internet I wonder how secure a blog, website, smartphone or social media account can actually be. I’ve been lucky enough to have some fantastic support around me to help and guide but (is this a ‘man’ thing)? I’ve also been determined to do things by myself. Getting things wrong is part of the learning curve and I can’t blame everything on my dyslexia. That leaves me with only one conclusion then; Sometimes I get it wrong!
As usual though there is a ‘however’ to add to that. Having had a few comments on my last blog my suspicions were raised as I noted the addresses of the emails. Although it’s nice to think my posts may have reached .de (Germany) and .xyz (who knows where?) I’m not likely to approve those comments without first checking their credibility. Putting the question out to Twitter I received an interesting tweet from Liam @ZaddleMarketing who advised me not to click on any links or even the email addresses in those suspicious comments. Confirming my fears that these posts were in fact SPAM but also advising me to look at a good security plugin for my WordPress site. Liam is a very knowledgeable and trusted member on Twitter and I won’t hesitate to recommend him. Of course there are lots of good people on social media that you know you can trust so it’s always best to ask the question of your contacts if ever you’re in doubt.
Thank You Kerrin
Thank you Kerrin @Kerrinwilson999 for your hospitality (and the lovely cake of course). It was really nice to meet you and I’m looking forward to extending the reach of LincsConnect to include regular posts by you and your team across the whole County. Thankfully I have already had some security tips from some of your colleagues and that information has proved invaluable. Hopefully you’ll enjoy my short post here today and will have time to add a comment too.
Getting It Right By Chance
I’ve heard that smart speakers listen in to our conversations and it’s not uncommon for adverts to pop up on our social media platforms directly relating to a conversation at home the previous day. I know I’ve had issues with my iMac and I’m convinced it had been infected with some sort of malware. It’s taken a long time to convince the experts that this is the case but after trying to rebuild my computer it has become obvious to them that some sort of infection had occurred. Thankfully it has been stripped back to factory settings now and re-built. It’s extremely uncommon (I’m led to believe) that an iMac can be infected but if it’s going to happen to anyone, it’ll happen to me! Technology and I don’t gel all of the time I’m afraid. However, having feared the worst following a rash of phishing emails (ransom emails sent to my inbox supposedly from my own address) I decided that the only course of action was to contact Lincolnshire Police Cyber Crime Unit who responded very quickly with a visit to my office. A full inspection of my computer confirmed that the emails were really just phishing emails and should be deleted. However, the nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right stayed with me and after several incidents with my computer Apple decided that a full restore and section by section re-build was required. Needless to say, I’m happy now that my computer and details are safe once again.
What if it’s true that the smart devices can leak our information? A recent BBC Panorama programme about Amazon revealed that they knowingly and openly use our information for marketing and advertising purposes. I don’t think that the machines (or people) are listening to our every conversation but when key words are detected the link is made with you, your device, your email address and your broadband hub. Recent news reports have also highlighted that smart devices can be hacked and accessed remotely. The video doorbells, video baby monitors and even smart TVs and smart fridges are all susceptible to the unscrupulous hackers who want our information. Accessing our personal data can be very upsetting and worrying of course so we need to protect ourselves.
If we can access any devices from our smartphone it’s a fair bet that the unscrupulous criminals can do the same. The smart fridge, smart monitor and smart TV come with factory settings and passwords that can be found easily online and it may not be possible to change those settings. Hacking your fridge isn’t too much of a problem of course. Let’s face it, what’s the worse case scenario with that? Perhaps someone could remotely alter the temperature or turn it off? I’m sure that isn’t going to be at the top of the criminals priority list but accessing your router from your fridge Or your smart TV etc may be more sinister.
The obvious and most basic form of self protection is strong passwords of course. Whenever you get the chance, change the passwords from factory settings to something that you can remember. Names aren’t usually a good idea for passwords as we would tend to use names of relatives, pets or celebrity/sporting heroes. All of these names are likely to crop up on your social media pages at some point so can easily be guessed. Random passwords are by far the best option but it’s important to have different passwords for different logins so that your security is as high as possible. There are some very clever Apps around that can store your passwords for you but I’m sure you will have your own remembering system that works for you.
I’ve had a few scary moments that have made me review my security of course but thankfully, as I don’t trust myself with technology, I don’t keep any client information on computer or electronic device. The closest I get to storage of any data is the phone numbers on my smartphone. That’s protected by a security password as well as facial recognition, finger print and VPN (I’ll cover VPN later). It’s better to be safe than sorry! Keeping your personal information safe should be a high priority and simple precautions can be all you need. If you have data stored on you mobile device make sure it’s protected with a security code and backed up regularly. My devices can be deleted remotely which is a good feature. If you’re not sure if you can do the same with your own device it’s best to check for peace of mind. Two factor authentication is handy too – that’s when you get an alert on your chosen device to tell you that someone is accessing your other devices. My iPhone will prompt me to confirm that I am who I say I am when I log onto my computer and I have to type in a one time only code before the computer will let me in. It takes seconds and provides an extra level of security.
You’ve changed your passwords from factory settings to secure ones that aren’t easily guessed. You have a different password for every device so you’re good to go….? Well, not quite! Your router may not be secure so if you’re not sure ask your provider to guide you through changing the factory set password. You’re ‘almost’ there… You’re now safe in your own home but what happens when you are out and about? Do you log in to the Cloud or other public WiFi to use your device? How secure is that system? The truth is, you have no idea. Your final piece of security is VPN. What is VPN? This is the explanation from Wikipedia: “A virtual private network extends a private network across a public network, and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network.” You might want to look this one up for yourself. It is a ‘belt and braces’ approach to security but if you have any private or confidential information on your devices you might want to read a bit more about it. It is a ‘paid for’ service so you’ll need to be aware of that and you’ll also need to be aware that not all internet routers are capable of installing it. However, once installed on your home router ‘all’ devices using that WiFi connection will be protected under the higher level of security. I have it installed and the one I chose covers six devices. I have it on my iPhone and iPad so that I know I’m secure whenever I log into a public WiFi system.
It’s Good To Share
All of this information comes from people I have spoken to who have been kind enough to guide me. I’m not an expert in this field at all but hopefully some of the things I’ve learned along the way and printed here will be useful fo you. If you have any other tips that may be useful for other users please feel free to add a comment and send a message on twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #LincsConnect
Helping each other is always good of course but if you need any additional help I suggest you contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP), local IT specialist or if you’re worried about cyber security you could contact @lincspolice to ask about their Cyber Security courses. I have been on one and can highly recommend it. After all, these are the experts who really want to help you to prevent crime.
Thank you all for taking the time to read my ramblings. I’ll be back soon with more blogs of course but keep watching as they are about to evolve into something quite unique.
While trying to update and secure my website I really do understand how frustrating and confusing this ‘tech stuff’ can be.
On social media (Twitter in particular) the difference between the ‘#’ and the ‘@’ signs are significant but can easily be confused. Let me break it down into very simple terms which I hope you will appreciate:
Think of the hashtag as being a file that everyone can search and view. When you type it, it’ll light up in blue instead of the usual black text. You can use it for your own marketing and advertising by creating your own words that will follow the hashtag sign. Here are a few examples: #LincsConnect #Scunthorpe #Lincolnshire – if you are using this hashtags you are targeting anyone who may be searching for tweets that are pertinent to Scunthorpe and/or Lincolnshire. You are also targeting people who are looking at the hashtag file for #LincsConnect.
Creating a hashtag
You can easily create your own hashtag of course. Simply type in the words after the hashtag sign. Let’s pretend that your company is called ‘Grow it’ and you sell seeds for the garden. You want to create a special offer of £10.00 discount for every £50.00 spend. You could use the hashtag #GrowIt10 and tell everyone to use that hashtag to claim their discount.
Own the hashtag
You’ve created your hashtag but you really ought to make sure that no one else is using the same hashtag. To do that, simply type the words GrowIt10 into your Twitter search bar to see what comes up. Hopefully you’ll see a note displayed saying “No results for growit10”. If that’s the case, you’re good to go; use that hashtag as your own and search it regularly to see who has used it to claim their discount. If you see a string of tweets displayed using the hashtag or words ‘growIt10’ I suggest you have a re-think to come up with something that isn’t already in use. If you do use it regardless of anyone else using it you’ll have a job finding the tweets that are relevant to you.
Have fun with the hashtag
Twitter isn’t just about selling and information though. It’s a place to have some light hearted fun. If that is what you are doing, you can make up some tweets that are purely nonsense but funny to read. #SillyTweet #fun #IDidntMeanToSayThat #HarryPotterWouldBeProudOfMyEfforts …. Anything goes really! If you’re having a joke with someone the hashtags can serve as a great punchline.
Hashtags and grammar
When creating or writing a hashtag you mustn’t use punctuation as the computers don’t understand it. Likewise, it doesn’t matter if you use all upper case, all lower case or a combination of the two.
What does the ‘@’ sign mean then?
Where the hashtag sends your tweet to a specific file or files (it could be #LincsConnect #Scunthorpe and #Lincolnshire as highlighted above), the ‘@’ sign is like a postage stamp because it sends the tweet to a specific account. If you post a tweet using @LincsConnect it’s because you want to speak to me personally. Only ‘I’ will see that tweet. If you want to let everyone in the County know about a sale, event or piece of information you need to be using #LincsConnect.
If you use multiple addresses ie. @LincsConnect @MandarinLeisure @MandarinLocal you’re involving those accounts in your conversation. It’s a handy way of talking to several people at the same time but can get confusing if they all answer at once!
Should I use @LincsConnect and #LincsConnect in the same tweet?
Generally speaking, ‘no’! If you want to contact me tweet me at @LincsConnect but if you want to get your message out to all followers use the hashtag #LincsConnect. There is really no advantage to using both the hashtag #LincsConnect and the address @LincsConnect in the same tweet. In fact, using the address @LincsConnect can result in other people having their messages missed as the ‘chatter’ on the account increases significanty.
It’s taken a while to get what I want but good things happen when you ask the right person the right question! Thank you to the team at @DPSdigital www.dpsdigital.co.uk for your ‘fuss free’ and very speedy response.
I met Chris @ChrisFromDPS some years ago and was inspired by his company business card design. That led to a design of my own which was quickly produced and put into print by DPS Digital. The net result is what you see now. Needless to say, I’m very pleased and the logo is sitting proudly at the top of my Twitter and Facebook pages as well as on my new business cards. I’m looking forward to seeing it on some new polo shirts soon too. Watch this space…