On The Plus Side…
Covid-19 has wreaked devastation across the world with many lives lost while others have become (and remain) seriously ill as a result of this deadly virus. ‘Normal’ has changed over the last few months with travel, work and personal restrictions causing much disruption and heartache. Finances have been seriously challenged for all of us be that directly or indirectly but we have also shown remarkable resilience and a desire to keep going. Some industries have carried on as normal while others have had to significantly increase working practices to cope with demand. Others, on the other hand, have suffered greatly with many paying the ultimate price of permanent closure.
On a positive note though, many of us have adapted our working practices to keep going which has in turn resulted in a significant reduction in pollution, fossil fuel emissions and litter. On a personal note I have significantly reduced my vehicle use by taking my work online. The knock on effect of that has been that my clients have been able to manage injuries, carry on with their rehabilitation programme under personal instruction, maintain their strength and monitor fitness levels as my training programmes have been adapted for home exercise. Those training at home have also had reduced car usage of course so the reduction in the burning of fossil fuels has been reduced even further.
While I’m used to visiting clients in their home, the lockdown has made me re-evaluate my working practices. The home exercise sessions really do seem to be the way forward and I will definitely keep them going. I had been looking for ways to become more environmentally friendly with my working practices so this is definitely a step in the right direction.
I’m Not Alone
Since many people have turned to working online through Zoom, WhatsApp Messenger or FaceTime video sessions my thoughts have turned to those who have been doing it for some time. I do wonder why it’s taken me so long to catch up of course but having been forced into a new practice I wonder how many others will continue with the online working practice too. It’s not until I start to apply the ‘grey matter’ that I realise how many businesses have already been working successfully online. How many can you think of? I’m aware that authors have been selling online for some time as we have become accustomed to buying books for our e-readers. Many courses and tutorials have been firmly embedded into the online platforms too while shopping online has become the norm.
Lincolnshire Libraries (@lincslibraries on twitter and Lincolnshire Libraries on Facebook) are set to reopen on 13 July with a phased reopening of their larger premises first and hubs/mobile libraries opening later in the season. However, although there is a real joy (well, there is for me anyway)! to be had when browsing through the physical books on the shelves it has to be said that our libraries have really stepped up their online services to keep us all happy. Perhaps you’ve been enjoying some of their audio books, e-books or music from their ‘Freegal Music’ selection? It’s all online and free with your Library card so if you haven’t already experienced it perhaps now is the time. Not only will you be accessing the library from your home or mobile device but you’ll be helping to save the planet too by reducing your travel requirements.
If it’s a good read that you’re looking for and are a regular browser of the amazon or Apple libraries youo may have a favourite local author who has been keeping your reading habits and imagination alive. Some of them have been mentioned in previous blogs of course from the very imaginative books by local Grimsby author Lynette Creswell who sells her books on Amazon (find her on Facebook ‘Lynette Creswell Author’ or via her website www.lynettecreswell.wordpress.com ) and has a new book of short stories ‘The Cat Thief’
Lynette Creswell – A local author based in Grimsby with quite a collection of published books now has a new book ‘The Cat Thief’ – click on the picture for more information.
to factual eBooks about growing vegetables in straw bales. Simon Gibbins has produced both an e-Book and a DVD which can both be purchased through his website www.strawbaleveg.co.uk
Simon Gibbins is based in Waddington, Lincoln but his e-Book and DVD are both available from his website. Click on the picture for more information
Home fruit and vegetable growing has certainly seen an upsurge during the lockdown so with fresh food readily available in our own garden perhaps shopping habits are set to change again as even more people discover the joy and convenience of home grown produce. If you fancy giving it a go you can contact Simon through his website or on twitter @strawbaleukman where he also has information about his seed sales as @SeedsSimon
While many of us have utilised the lockdown to learn new skills (it’s been blogging for me) it’s worth remembering that many local businesses have been providing their services online for quite some time before the virus hit us. Rosemary from Inavanti Learning has been providing language courses on an individual basis with online learning to compliment her sessions but during the lockdown she has moved exclusively to online sessions. It can’t have escaped your notice that Lincolnshire is a large County so for a business based in Grantham it’s important to be able to reach customers both near and far. ‘Online’ is most definitely the way forward, not just for reach and accessibility but for reducing traffic and helping to look after our planet. Schools have had to embrace the technology to keep in touch with students but as the schools gradually return to building based lessons it’s important to know that personalised online learning is very much available for you. ‘Thank you’ to the dedication and hard work of private tutors like Rosemary.
Inavanti Learning – click on the picture to go straight to the website. This could be the start of your next journey…
Inavanti Learning – Click on the picture to watch the Inavanti video and get a feel for your next learning experience.
Music is part of the online and download revolution with lots of platforms available to artists of any genre. I often search YouTube to listen to local artists so, as I’m writing about ‘online’ I thought it would be a good time to share some local bands here:
Trak3 Official is a Grimsby based band singing rap. I’ve chosen ‘Caught Up’ as a featured track here but please keep in mind that other tracks of theirs do contain swearing. Click on the picture to hear the YouTube track and don’t forget to give them a follow on Twitter @TRAK3_Official
If you fancy something different this very young band from Cleethorpes definitely deserves a listen. This group of youngsters really have been doing some good things and have been getting their name around the music scene quite successfully too. Have a listen to ‘Bullet’ and don’t forget to see what else they have on their Youtube channel:
Revivalry – A band of youngsters from Cleethorpes doing some great things. Click on this picture to hear the track and don’t forget to give them a follow on Twitter too @revivalryband
Another great Lincolnshire band destined for great things is Shout Inferno. They’ve appeared on my tweets and blogs before as one of my featured local bands of the week so it’s no surprise to see them here again:
Shout Inferno – Live at The Sweet Factory. Click on the picture to go to their youTube channel and hear another great song from their library. You can also follow them on Twitter @ShoutInferno
The Saboteurs have also featured as one of my ‘Local Bands of the week’ and I’m sure you won’t mind if I feature them here too:
Saboteurs – Click the picture to hear ‘Coraline’ – it’s the latest single from the band and it really is a good one. @sabsbanduk were also a recent addition to my local band of the week feature on twitter and when you hear this track you’ll understand why. I think this band from Sleaford are destined for big things.
Follow The Leader
If you like local music you need to follow Dave @laamb4 on twitter or visit the website for lots more music and arts information. As usual, you can click on the picture to go straight to the website:
Laamb – Click on the picture to go to the website. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
A Word From The Sponsor
If you would like to sponsor the next blog please do get in touch. I hope you like what you see and can see the value in it for local businesses, charities and organisations. Until next time though, I’ll leave you with a short video by @MandarinMothers who provide bespoke complementary therapies from the comfort of your own home:
Mandarin Therapies and Mandarin Mothers provide bespoke complementary therapies from the comfort of your own home. Why not surprise someone special with a gift voucher today? Visit www.mandatintherapies.co.uk for more info. Click on the picture to view the video
If you have any suggestions for future blogs please do let me know.
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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.
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