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  • Writer's pictureAlison Ellerbrook

Connecting when there's no connection

Whilst it might be difficult for many elsewhere in the UK to believe, if you live or work in rural Northumberland the issue of getting connected can be a frustrating one. Superfast broadband is due to be available to 95% of Northumberland by the end of 2017 although amazingly, even now, some new housing developments are still being built without access.

A real issue is mobile coverage, whilst Londoners discuss the rollout of 5G, in some parts of this county you're lucky if you even get one bar of signal. I've recently been working in such an area and had to laugh at central office's suggestion of 'Facebook Live' streaming from a hillside when I couldn't even make a phone call.

It's a familiar problem for many in various parts of the UK; farmers have taken to Twitter using the hashtags #clubnonetwork and #clubhectare to highlight the problem. Poor mobile signal in rural areas is not only an inconvenience, but can also be a safety issue. Unfortunately it looks like the target for mobile coverage for 90% of the UK is not going to be met by the end of 2017 as promised.

All this can be an obstacle for growing your small business' social media presence.

Be honest with your customer

If you're stuck offline, being open and upfront is always the best policy, make a feature of the fact you're off grid especially if your business means you're out and about a lot...

Based in the wilds of Northumberland is wonderful place to be, but the connections are patchy so I'm not always online, leave a message and I'll catch up as soon as I can.

You can still write posts

Although we might not be able to use Facebook Live or tweet when we're out and about and there's no signal, we can still make sure we capture those moments we want to share and connect with our audience albeit with a bit of a delay.

You'll be able to use your phone to write updates or post photos on Facebook, the posts will appear faded as Facebook won't update until you're back online later when it will automatically post to your feed.

Similarly with Twitter, if you write a tweet you'll find it will update later when your phone is back online.

Just be careful that you don't write more than one post at a time or else there will be a flurry of updates all at once from you when you get your connection back.

Ask your customer to 'check in' when they get home

Customer 'check ins' on Facebook are really valuable to many businesses as they tell people's friends where they've been and also prompt for reviews the next day. If your premises doesn't have wifi or mobile signal, ask customers if they could check-in 'when they return to the 21st century', it will show you're still embracing social media even though the infrastructure is challenging.

Having limited connection is a huge frustration in 2017 when it's pretty much expected that all organisations are online; this is an area which still really needs investment.

Alison Ellerbrook delivers social media management and content creation for small businesses in Northumberland and North East England.

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