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Keeping in touch with social media

With the current social distancing requirements that mean family, friends and colleagues are unable to meet face to face, many people are accessing new forms of social media for the first time.

Provided you have access to WIFI or mobile data available on your smart phone (either IOS or Android), the world is your oyster when it comes to social media and keeping in touch.

We have put together some top tips to introduce you to some of the most-used digital platforms to help you get started for the first time with Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp and also some information on Skype, Zoom and Microsoft Teams. All these social media platforms can be accessed from your desktop PC, your laptop, your tablet or your smartphone and many use “apps” that take you straight to your pages on your smartphone. They’re instant, fun and keep you in touch. But we warned… there are downsides, including getting hooked!

Living in rural Lincolnshire, we know that our internet connections are not always great. There are some ways to enable a better connection; for instance not using video, just audio, when connecting, or using your phone rather than trying to rely on WIFI in the house or office. And choose a time of day to meet up that is likely to be less busy – eg 7pm – 9pm will be the time lots of others choose, so there will be a slower or less strong signal on existing copper wire connections.

Whatever platform you choose, keeping in touch, sharing views and thoughts, jokes or video clips, is good for your mental health. Keeping a positive view in difficult times is not easy, but with friends and colleagues to help, we will get there.

And remember, LRSN is here to help, so if you need us, call 0800 138 1710. Our helpline is now open from 8am to 8pm. We’re here to help get you back on track.

Twitter

Find it at www.twitter.com. Twitter is a free social media tool which allows you to make short comments and statements called ‘tweets’, post short videos and photographs or use symbols calls Emojis to share your thoughts and feelings. You can follow anyone who has an account, from anywhere in the world so that you can see and read what’s happening almost anywhere. Find new people to follow by looking at others’ profiles and seeing who they’re keeping in touch with. You can follow or “unfollow” if you get tired of someone’s posts!

Setting up an account is straightforward, just think of a username that reflects you/your job/your family/where you are, then complete the profile box with a few words about you, add your location and a photo. You can change these whenever you want.

It’s a good way of keeping in touch with friends and family and the wider farming community. Some businesses also have a Twitter account as do the government, charities, newspapers, radio and television shows and personalities of all types. All information posted on Twitter is public unless the account is made private. You can “like” and retweet others’ statements, photos and videos and reply with your own views. Tweets can be funny, serious, ask questions, be about farming or family, politics or anything you think might be useful, interesting or entertaining. You can also send “direct messages” to other people on Twitter to ask questions or talk to them privately.

Remember to follow @Lincsruralhelp. The LRSN team has been using Twitter for a little while and these are some of our favourite feeds, if you would like some suggestions to get started: @FCNcharity @clubhectare2211 @thelincolnite @LincsRuralCrime @NFUTweets, @sasagronomy, @DefraUK, @seandunderdale, @RABIcharity, @Lincsshowground, @Lincswolds @AlanStennett @yellowwellies @charlesanyan and many, many more!

Happy Tweeting!

Instagram

Find it at www.instragram.com and visit www.help.instagram.com to find out how to set up your account.

Instagram allows you to post photos and video content for your followers to view; they may be friends and family or people in the wider world. It’s predominantly used for photos and videos and is a good option for people to keep in touch with you via your postings. It’s fun and imaginative and immediate: videos and photos can be edited and you can add comments, filters and cartoon images too. Videos are short and snappy, up to a maximum of 60 seconds long.

Instagram accounts are a fun way of telling your friends and family what you’re up to and seeing their activities too. When you sign up, you can follow other Instagrammers and also select subjects called Hashtags (#) so that you always see new posts using your favourite hashtags, like #catsofinstagram.

Your posts don't last long though, only 24 hours, unless you keep them in the highlights section of your biography. Keep posting to keep your followers happy and in the loop!

Facebook

Facebook, which you can access via www.facebook.com is a social media platform that allows you to share posts, photos and videos.

Setting up is straightforward (go to https://en-gb.facebook.com/help/ to see how) and you can edit privacy settings to allow your profile to be public, for friends and family or just yourself. Facebook is a good way of keeping in touch with friends and family and you can share photos and videos of your own or share from others' timelines. And you can send messages to other users, via Facebook Messenger.

Facebook is widely used around the world (there are billions of users, today); you can search for people and ask them to be your friend and so keep up with their news. Or if you’d like to keep in touch with an organisation or business, you can “like” their page too and see news, events, videos and photos posted onto their page. (We hope you will “like” the LRSN page and keep up with our news.) And there are farming forums to join (should that be fora?) like Lincolnshire Farming and Farmers Weekly United. Just click on "join" and see what your colleagues are thinking and chatting about.

It’s easy to set up your profile, you can decide how little or how much information you want to share, for example, you don’t have to add your birthday, but if you do, your friends will get a notification and be able to send birthday wishes to you. The ability to post photos and videos is a great advantage and you can do so from your smartphone almost instantaneously but using the “share” feature.

Facebook is available to use on laptops, tablets and smartphones so you can take your friends with you and show them, by using the “live” option, where you are and what you’re doing as you go.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp (at www.whatsapp.com) is an app (application) for mobile devices that keeps you in touch with friends and family – its great for sending videos and photos and lots of fun things to keep everyone amused.

In technical terms, it allows users to send text messages and voice messages, make voice and video calls, and share images, documents, user locations, and other media. There are versions for mobiles and tablets and a desktop application too, though it is best known for its versatility and flexibility on smartphones.

Skype

Go to www.skype.com to start skyping!

Skype to Skype phone or video calls can be used for free over the internet on your mobile device or desktop PC/laptop, provided you have a wi-fi connection or mobile data plan.

It’s another option for keeping in touch with friends and family. You’ll need to enable your camera and microphone on your device and download the skype “app” to your tablet or smartphone. Skype is the best known (although by no means the only) VoIP (voice over internet protocol) system, which just means using the internet to make and receive telephone calls. You can call any user just by entering their Skype username, sending an instant message, voice-only call or if video is enabled, you can see them as well as hear them.

Zoom

Zoom (www.zoom.us) offers a free video-conferencing tool, it’s a great way to keep in touch with family and friends both in this country and all over the world as well as holding business meetings or joining in with a webinar (a seminar held over the web).

The basic package (which is free) allows for up to 100 people per meeting up to 40 minutes. It’s simple to use, the instructions on the website will help you set up your account and a video call to anyone anywhere in the world. Signing up is straightforward, then all you need to do to connect to your friends and family is to click on “host a meeting” and send them an email with a link to your Zoom meeting. They click on the link and join you in a video meeting, with you as the "host". 

Like face to face meetings, online video conferences do need chairing - if everyone tries to talk at once, one person will prevail as the software chooses the loudest voice. If you're hosting a Zoom or Teams meeting (see next tab), it might be useful to ensure that everyone gets their fair crack of the whip and has their views/thoughts/news aired with the rest of the group.

Microsoft Teams

This is a Microsoft application and can be used for video calls, often business meetings. If you have been sent a meeting request via teams, you can join the meeting for free, even if you don’t have Microsoft Office. Simply click on the link in the appointment/email and it will take you to Teams on your internet browser.

Teams is an office-orientated system, as that is what it was developed for, but if you want to share documents with family or friends, or a farm adviser, then Teams works well. There’s also a space for comments or chat whilst you’re in your Teams meeting. You can share comments or add photos for others to see. And you don’t need to use the video calling part of teams, you can use it instead of email if you have a larger group of people to be in contact with, so like WhatsApp, you can join with friends and family for a group chat, seeing everyone’s contributions in a stream of comments on the screen.

Teams currently only shows five people’s faces on the screen – you and four others, although many more can join, you just can’t see them all the time, just when they speak. As with Zoom, you need a bit of meeting “discipline” to ensure that not everyone talks at once, but you will get the hang of it.

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These are tough times, but LRSN is here for you, whenever you need us.

Talk to us on our helpline:

0800 138 1710