Week 14: One final reflection on social media

September 15th 2012, I google myself and I get a plethora of results pertaining to me. December 13th 2012, I google myself and I still receive the same amount of results. In terms of how I put myself into social media, nothing has changed in the past three to four months. What has changed, however, is my outlook. When I was a lot younger, I always signed up for social networking sites that I thought could be fun. I never really used them, but I always had fun with it for a little while. While I was signing up for these sites, I never payed attention to my “digital footprint”, it was more so just “I want people to know my name!” and so the adventure began.

Now, I’m seeing having signed up for all those sites was a poor decision. As I said in my earlier post, I tried to go back and deactivate my accounts – but to no avail. There was a lot I never considered with my social media impact; business being one of those things. People always said to watch out for what you’re posting on Twitter and Facebook, because you never know who’s reading your posts… I never really cared until now; until I took this course and realized how important your footprint is to your business life. I go through pictures of some of the people I have on my Facebook and I think “Would I hire that person?” I mean, if you’re wearing a crop-top that shows off your “YOLO” tattoo, nine times out of ten, I’m thinking “you make poor life decisions.”

So if I’m sitting in my bedroom, without the business experience and background thinking “I wouldn’t hire that person”, what’s it like to be the CEO of a huge company and looking at a half-naked girl’s profile pictures with gnarly tattoos? Does your opinion change once you’re in that position? I don’t think it does. Etiquette and social responsibility are evidently important, and I’ve stopped taking that for granted.

I’ve considered myself to be pretty savvy when it comes to social media. I can’t say I learned too much more than what I already knew. I can say, however, that this course has put it into perspective for me. It’s not so much “Ah! What a revelation! I’m cured of all my horrid Facebook posts and tweets!” It’s more so, I take into consideration what I’m saying before I say it. If you read my tweets, that might not be terribly apparent. Honestly, I used to tweet nonstop throughout the day; I’ve rolled it back a bit. I don’t swear in my tweets, and I don’t post horrible pictures of myself. I think that’s what this course has given me.

In relation to my first entry: not much has changed. I’m still the same avid blogger that started this course, and I will continue to be. But I’m much more aware of what I’m saying now, and I think that goes a long way in terms of business. I don’t want to end up tweeting something absolutely tragic, lose a job opportunity over it, and then regret that decision of thinking “man, this will get so many retweets”. That’s not what business is about; it’s about a clean, appropriate way of getting your message out there and making a profit. Social media is just one key element to making that happen.

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Week 10: Extreme Promotional Materials – Social Media Plan

Social media has given people and their businesses an advantage they would have never thought possible years ago. Making connections, relationships, and business ventures much easier through Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites of the like. In this day and age, it would almost be foolish to not have your business take part in social media. There’s more to it than that, however… One must know how to approach social networking – they must have a plan so they can understand the causes, the ramifications, and the results they will later see from their usage.

How and Why

Extreme Promotional Materials would benefit greatly from generating a social media plan because they are all about promotion. They use their business to promote schools, teams, even other businesses; therefore the use of promotion on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc. is a valuable opportunity of which to take advantage. This business would require knowledge on how they wish to be seen by the social media audience: the tone they wish to portray, the information they want to release, how they would communicate feedback, comment, questions, etc. It is very important for a brand like Extreme Promotional Materials to develop a social media plan because it would not only help them promote themselves, but also who they are promoting – thus achieving loyal customers.

Missions, Visions, Goals

Extreme Promotional Materials is a brand that is all about promotion. Just like any other business, their main goal is to achieve returning customers; to create a name for themselves that shows the public how reliable and customer-friendly they are. They hope to one day be the biggest business in their respective field; just as MacDonald’s for fast food, and American Eagle for clothing. They believe social media tools will help carry them along towards accomplishing their goals by getting their name into the public and showing their demographic what they have to offer.

Key Messages

Extreme Promotional Materials wants their audience to know that they provide fast, effective service. If you need a jersey with your school’s logo by a certain date, they will do everything within their power to ensure you have the perfect product as soon as you need it. They’re dedicated to customer service and through social media, they plan to convey their devotion and understanding by answering tweets, Facebook comments, and other methods of social communication. They plan to use their Facebook page as a gallery functionality, showing their customers what they’re offering in terms of products and services.

Target Audiences

While this business typically serves schools and league teams, they are always looking to expand their outreach. They don’t cater to a specific group, however, as most of their customers seem to be teams of some sort, their social media plan must follow that demographic. If they are trying to reach to schools, Twitter would be a useful tool, as most schools are now expanding their curriculum to take Twitter into consideration. This means more students will be effectively using Twitter.

As of the past few years, different businesses have been getting into Twitter as well. This means businesses that require the promotion service that Extreme Promotional Materials has to offer will know of their products through promotion via tweeting/retweeting, Facebook ads, Youtube clips, etc. A social media plan in this instance will greatly benefit this business because it will expand their publicity quicker than basic word-of-mouth.

Social Media Tools

Twitter (demo: businesses, students)

– Basic updates on what the company is doing

– Twitpics of recent products and cool merchandise

– A method to communicate with customers and briefly answer questions.

Facebook (demo: businesses, students)

– A place to really try and sell products; showing galleries of what the company offers its customers.

– Allows users to give helpful feedback on certain products

– Contests and games to win prizes,

– A method to communicate with customers to answer their questions to a greater extent.

Youtube – As used by a single person representing  Extreme Promotional Materials (demo: students, teenagers)

– Advertise products in a more creative fashion

– Personal blog to update audience and create one-on-one conversation with customers

– Allows users to give feedback via video comments and create video replies that help customers expand on their feedback

Social Media Engagement Strategy

On Twitter, the outreach will be mostly towards students and people on league teams. Those customers require logo’d equipment and will go to Extreme Promotional Materials when they need a certain product. With this knowledge, the tone will have to be lighthearted, to keep them entertained. Posting frequency will be a few posts ever few hours, as to not bombard them with useless updates, but at the same time make sure they are aware of new products and deals when they become available. This will help accomplish their goals by keeping updated with customers and accepting helpful feedback in real-time, never missing a moment’s time.

Through Facebook, the outreach will be broad – as Facebook has now reached out to a demographic of many different age groups and people. It will be a general tool used to promote products, services, contests, and deals as they happen. Posting frequency will be once or twice a day to keep a steady rate on updates, and a new post when an exciting deal becomes available. This will achieve the company’s goal in customer satisfaction by showing their audience everything they should know about their company, without any hidden ulterior motives.

On Youtube, there will be one or two people creating a personal vlog that will keep a steady update rate in order to draw attention to advertising. The vlog will keep a positive, upbeat tone to attract more customers, and keep original customers coming back to update themselves on what is happening in Extreme Promotional Materials. This will achieve their goal in customer satisfaction by keeping up with one-on-one communication, giving the customer a rewarding and genuine feeling that the representatives of the company truly care about their customers.

All in all, a social media plan is crucial in any business’ all-over plan of success. With social media being a current phenomenon, it would only make sense for every business to take part. By creating a social media plan, a business is able to know what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. They can be one step ahead of the game at all times, without missing a beat. Using networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube (among the most popular and with the largest demographics), every step a business takes counts greatly in the larger picture, therefore knowing what move you’re going to make next is absolutely critical.

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Week 9: Three Easy Steps – Improve your digital footprint!

Around my twelfth year of life, I discovered the internet. Downloading, chatrooms, games, you name it. The biggest social media names I lunged myself into were Facebook and Youtube, among other small ones such as Habbo, MyYearbook, etc. After realizing how fun having an online personality was, I started creating more accounts for different sites. Some sites I never even used (such as Ficly, Uinvue, svpply). Looking back, I’d say I signed up for all those accounts just to have my name pop up on the google search. I thought that was beyond cool. I never really considered the implications until now.

That’s not to say I wasn’t aware of safety on the internet; privacy settings weren’t always a big deal to me up until I reached high school and my french teacher started following me on Twitter. He’s a pretty genuine guy, and he was definitely one of my favorite people – so I didn’t want him to think I was careless and foolish when it came to internet privacy. I refrained from tweeting obscene things, with the occasional f-bomb here and there. Rarely anything questionable. There was one tweet about a Filipino family, however…

No matter, I knew it was time to start stepping up my game; keeping my mind clean and my tweets cleaner. During the summer after high school, my friends would always say really obscene things. Things I can’t even bare to repeat. I would always say “Man, I wish I could tweet that!” to which they’d reply, “Why can’t you?” and my answer always being “because Mr. Patterson is still following me on Twitter.” They always said that I’m not in high school anymore, it doesn’t matter what I say because no one can get me in trouble. In a sense, I almost believed that… until I reached this course. What we’ve been talking about has really opened my eyes, even more so, to helping me realize how prevalent I am on social media. Those years of signing up for random accounts has finally given me an end result. Now I’ve got to go back and pick up the mess I made.

I understand that being widespread all over the internet can be a bad thing, but I think it really helps get your name out as well. As for me, I’ve definitely put myself out there; Twitter being my most popular search result. My first step in improving my “digital footprint” would be to finally delete all those null social media accounts. They’re not hurting me, but they’re also not helping me. At all. I feel like they’re completely redundant; by deactivating unused accounts, it would be me more incentive to focus on the big ones that I use, like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Youtube, and StumbleUpon. I think this step would be effective in the sense that when someone of important and relevance to me searches my name on google, the results that come up aren’t a bunch of accounts with my name, my pictures, and nothing else. If you’re going to put yourself out there, you should really put yourself out there.

Second step: clean yourself up! If I’m going to be putting my mainly-used social networks where everyone can get at them, keep it classy! There are few things worse in this world than unfortunate Facebook posts. It’s a small step, but a useful one. Always mediate not only what you’re putting on, but what you’re friends are saying too. Just the other day, one of my old friends thought she was being funny and nostalgic by posting a quote from a movie we had watched together in grade 8. The quote (extremely offensive and distasteful, even more so in context) was funny when I was 13. I thought it was hilarious, but now I just think it’s immature and rude. People change, as should your facebook etiquette. You can’t always control what is posted, but you can choose if it shows up on your profile. So naturally, I deleted her post… I feel kind of mean, though. I didn’t tell her and now she probably thinks I hate her.

My last, and seemingly most important step is knowing what to post, when to post. Have you ever found yourself in a fit of rage, sitting at your keyboard thinking about all the interesting things you could subtweet about someone? (Subtweet being the latest in Twitter lingo). It’s interesting how little people care about who’s listening when they’re angry or upset; it’s almost as if rage knows no bounds. So while I’m sitting at the computer thinking “if I tweet this, and she sees it, she’ll know I’m angry and I’ll feel better about the situation”. All I have to say to that is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3y3QoFnqZc. You think your subtweet is necessary and clever, but I can bet you anything it’s not as great as you think. And it’s definitely not doing you any favors. So, my biggest thing I need to work on is keeping the same general mindset when putting my thoughts into the twittersphere. I may not have that great of a filter when it comes to speaking in person, but I believe I can improve my habits a bit better when everything isn’t so real-time.

As a whole, online branding is important. Letting people know who you are before they even meet you. People can’t get to know you in a social media environment if every site they look up doesn’t have anything past your sign up information – my advice, if you’re not using it, delete it! Go back later if you feel it’s of higher relevance to your life. With the sites that you are using, don’t let them be contaminated with the unfortunate postings of the “old friend who is stuck in grade 8”. You’re growing up, you’re maturing, let your online profile follow. Meanwhile, make sure you’re posting the right thing. While it looks bad on you for people to see inappropriate posts of friends, it’s worse coming from you. There’s a time and place for your raw, unfiltered rants about how much of a “douche bag Jimi is”, unfortunately… Twitter is not the place. Brand on, my friends.

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Week 8: Business – A Social Media Perspective

It’s pretty obvious how social media can impact a business. Thinking about how potent social networking is on our personal lives, it can do wonders for the business world. If you’ve ever seen the ad for SmartWater with Jennifer Aniston, it pretty much depicts what it takes to go viral on the internet. A pretty smart commercial idea, if you ask me.

Where I am going with this the fact that social media is huge. It affects, I’d say, everyone, in some way or another. I’ve picked three articles from three different sites, and with each I’m trying to really enforce my position on how critical social media is in this day and age. We take it so lightly, especially at this point in our lives but what we don’t realize is how open we’ve become… with everyone. From a business perspective, that can be pretty harsh.

So I went to the site Mashable and I found this article, titled College Admissions Advice to Students: Think Now, Tweet Later written by Andrea Smith. It essentially talks about how the things we put on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, etc. are readily available to whoever wants to see them… and it’s post secondary institutes that are looking. We put so much effort into applying for college and university; trying to make ourselves looks professional and 100% desirable to the best colleges/universities there are. It’s almost the same as applying for a job – you want to get hired so you’ll put “Lead a committee for environmental clean-up” instead of what it actually was, which was “picked up garbage around the school yard in grade eight”. I mean, seriously… We want to look good. So why is it that people make Twitter updates talking about how drunk they got last night? Or how “Tiffany is SUCH a b*****!”? They say it’s vulgarity and misconduct that really turn off employers and post secondary schools from accepting you. I don’t think people consider the things they post before they post them. If you’re tweeting “look at this awesome drunk picture from last friday!” and it’s a picture of you and your friends urinating in a bush… where does your professional credibility go? The same place you should’ve been instead of the bush…

This really puts it into perspective how, especially in a business world, it is essential to remain professional even in your personal doings. If you were the CEO of Apple and you were tweeting “smoking bongs with the boys.” how do you think your followers would take that? Not well, I would assume. It’s always smart to keep yourself composed and professional on social media, especially with it being so influential. No matter if you’re 45 and running a business to if you’re 18 and getting high in your parents basement. Have your fun, just keep it away from where everyone can get at it.

Next site was Social Media Explorer, with an article titled Becoming a Social Business Isn’t Just for Social Media, written by Ilana Rabinowitz. A quote I found interesting from the article was “For those of us who are deeply involved in social media, it’s hard to imagine that there are businesses still questioning the value of it…  becoming adept at social media means learning principles that can assure survival of a business in challenging times.” This blog entry talks about how businesses are (and should be) using social media to their advantage. With the influential nature of social media, businesses are finding it more and more useful to be more proficient in that field. Social Media, especially these days, can really impact how successful a business is and that is, in most ways, a positive. After giving it a litte thought, however, I’ve also concluded that it can cause a lot of damage. It says in the article “The new openness has most significantly affected the way businesses need to operate.” which basically means that our world is becoming more and more social media-based and in order to survive on a professional level, we need to adapt to these changes. A business that is in tune with what’s currently happening on the internet will probably do a lot better than one that is still living in the 50s, so to speak.

The last one I checked out was called Facebook Makes Big Push To Educate New Users On Privacy, Adds In-Line Controls to Sign Up Flow written by Josh Costine on TechCrunch. This blog article talked about how Facebook is really trying to get their users to realize how easily the privacy settings are set now. Before, it was such a hassle to make sure your parents didn’t see those crazy photos you took last night, or that status update with the F word that you were hoping your grandmother wouldn’t read. They really want their users to see how user-friendly they’ve become in terms of privacy, and how simple it is. With the new addition to setting your privacy as soon as you set up your Facebook account, the users will realize how user-based they really are… or appear to be. In my mind, this is definitely a tactic to get more people to use the site. They more they see that Facebook is doing everything it can to ensure your privacy, the more they’ll trust in it and use it. Pretty clever. In the world of business, I believe this is a smart move for Facebook. Like I said with the first article, teenagers especially aren’t watching what they’re putting on the internet – and I believe that’s brought on by a hint of apathy. They don’t care what is posted because “it’s their life” and “they can do what they want”. By providing this new feature, Facebook has in turn given those very people the chance to continue what they are doing – but in a “safer” environment. If you don’t have to worry about your boss seeing you go to the bathroom in a bush, why not let the world know? If you find it funny, I’m sure someone else will too.

In summary, my main point is how essential social media has become from a business perspective. Not only how important it is, but how easily it affects business and the people in the business. Whether you’re 17 year old, still in high school, applying to Queen’s University and tweeting about how many shots it took for you to end up sleeping beside the toilet, or starting up a business and trying to find the best methods of improving yourself, or even a huge business that is looking to figuratively pull your users back in, we all need to realize the potency of social media and how we can use it to our advantage in a professional manner. No matter what you do, who you are, or where you’re going – social media is extraordinarily prevalent at this moment in time and will help shape who you become later on. Practice safe tweeting.

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Week 7: Business + Social Media = Fun.

I find the most effective way to really create something interesting for the consumer is to think like the consumer. I believe the lines “from a business perspective” and “from a customer perspective” should go hand-in-hand. Almost like a “by the people, for the people”. So if I were to create a tactic to promote my business using social media, I would want to put myself in the customer’s shoes.

First off, I would stay away from Facebook in the long run. That’s not to say I wouldn’t create a page for my business, but I wouldn’t want to use it as thoroughly as I would other social media sites – simply because I find Facebook too busy. From my own perspective, I look at my newsfeed on Facebook and I see all these ads for other businesses and products and I just do not care. Those ads don’t affect me, or at least they don’t affect me consciously. I just feel like spending time and money on Facebook would be somewhat of a waste.

I would definitely use Twitter. Maybe that’s slightly bias because of my incredible love for Twitter – but it’s my business, my rules. I feel as though Twitter is much more direct, it’s just a couple of sentences to update you quickly and to the point. Sweet and simple. I feel like it’s much easier to interact with your followers when using Twitter, and that really makes a difference when gathering customers. In all reality, I would only want to use Twitter to interact and talk to our customers because it is the most effective, and easiest way to do so. Occasional updates and simple conversation seems to be what Twitter is best for.

A good example of this is D&Q (yes, I’m bringing it up again) and how they said “Tom will tell 19 egg jokes if 19 more people follow us today”, and proceeded with “As oeuf I didn’t have plenty to do already.” and “Omelet you in on a little secret, I only have two egg jokes.” which I found hilarious… After a while, I saw this:

I was laughing every tweet I saw… and it worked! They got their followers.

Other than using Twitter to interact easily with followers, a really good method of promoting your business would definitely be Youtube. There’s no way around it – it’s popular, it’s interactive, it’s easy to use. It’s so much fun when you know what you’re doing, there’s no denying the potency of Youtube. When I say interactive, I’m referring to the cool mazes that some Youtube users set up for their fans. For example, WheezyWaiter (one of my favorite Youtubers) created this interactive game through his videos, as a lot of popular Youtubers do.

He creates a story and let’s the viewer choose what happens in the story through a series of links posted on the video itself. Each link is connected to a different video that he has recorded which has a different outcome each time. I find it’s ideas like these that really get the viewer involved and help generate more fans.

I feel as though ideas like this would be very useful for a business, to show its customers how they are interested in entertaining them, and not just taking their money. This could be a really interesting approach to attracting people to your products. If it were me creating the video, I would create a storyline that depicts the customer trying to pick out one of our products, and give links to a handful of different ones – each link would bring them to a video generated by us showing how happy they would be if they purchased said product. How cool… someone should actually do that.

All in all, I definitely believe that Twitter and Youtube would be my top picks if I were the means behind promoting a business. They interact with their fans/customers/followers, they make it fun and amusing so you’re not just getting “BUY THIS THING” shoved in your face all the time, and they’re user friendly – making life much simpler for everyone. It just seems like a no-brainer to me… As a consumer, I want to see that the business I am giving my money to is able to have fun with their work. What’s more fun than games and jokes? Nothing. That’s what.

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Week 6: Pawsitive advertisement

When I think of pet stores, I think of walking into a building and seeing bags upon bags of animal food, chew toys, ropes, fish tanks, everything that a pet-owner needs to care properly for their little friend. I also imagine a back room with windows so customers could look in and see the small cats and dogs jumping around, excited to see a new person. When I think of this fictional store, Pet Pawsitive, I believe it to be nothing different than my original thoughts.

The back room is filled with cages with cats and dogs, taking their well-deserved afternoon naps. None of these animals are for sale, but simply being cared for and trained by professionals. The shelves are filled with organic animal foods, shampoos, and treats to ensure the owners that their pets are being properly fed. No one has to worry about leaving their pet there because of such high appraisals from higher-end pet stores. This is truly the ideal place to bring your animals.

To visually promote this business, you must consider all the factors that are involved with getting the attention of the common customer. You must attack all senses – smell, touch, sight, sound. Given the fact that this is an online video promotion, we’ll have to work with what we’re given… meaning no smelling, or touching… I don’t think we’re that technologically advanced. It only makes sense to keep your audience in mind – who are you trying to sell to? What do they want to see? Well, as a consumer myself, I like to see happy animals. I want to see professionals doing their job right, and having a good time doing it. If I see a video where my dog is jumping around and having the time of his life, I will definitely take that business into consideration. Let’s just take a glance at this video:

When I saw this video, I could not stop laughing. It made me really appreciate how much thought and effort went into making it. It was especially the lady that said “You know I can’t run in heels, Chevaun, come back!” Too funny. I would probably make a video exactly like this one. Something the consumer can relate to, laugh at, and enjoy watching. Make it super playful, with bright colors and happy music… Giving them the information they need – hours of operation, activities, programs offered, all while keeping it light-hearted and fun. I also think it’d be a pretty neat idea to show behind-the-scenes clips of trying to make the commercial – just to show how difficult it is to work with animals sometimes. I believe that would really help the audience connect with the business because every pet owner knows how tedious and repetitive you need to be when training your pet.

When promoting your business, you always need to keep the consumer in mind. Chances are, if you’re a pet-owner, you like to have fun, because that’s what pets are – they’re fun. So it only makes sense to create something that gives them the equally pleasant feeling of happiness that they feel when they’re playing with their pet. You want to connect with them on an emotional level and show them that you’re not alone in caring for your pet. For business like Pet Pawsitive, I believe it is crucial to connect with your audience and show them how you know exactly what it’s like to deal with animals, and how well you work with them.

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Week 5: Facebook? Cats? Purina.

I don’t typically follow brands or companies or businesses on Facebook. I don’t really care to. I use Facebook to see what my friends, family, and coworkers are doing – not what some high-end business is selling. I just don’t see the appeal. That’s not to say I wouldn’t follow the page of a brand/company that I really liked, I just haven’t found one interesting enough.

So the other day I was talking to my friend about my cat. Let’s get one thing straight here: I love my cat. She is my best friend and I couldn’t live without her. I seriously can’t stress that enough. I’ve always wanted the best for my cat, I never buy no-name brand food or dollarstore toys; only the best for my little sweetheart. One thing I’ve always been super keen on is feeding my cat Purina Cat Chow. She loves it, and I love her so it just works out. So that begged the question, why not write about Purina Cat Chow?

I visited their Facebook page and saw how AWESOME it was. Cats everywhere (if you can’t already tell, I am 100% cat person. Love love love cats. Dogs are cool, too). Seriously, pictures of cats just plastered all over their page – I was in heaven. Upon further research as to why random people and their cats were posted all over the timeline, I realized that Purina was having this really cool contest where you share a picture of your cat and a story that really describes the relationship between you two. Winner receives $5000 and a year’s supply of cat chow! I wish I had known about this sooner!

For cat lovers, this page is perfect. You can read awesome cat stories, see the cutest cat pictures and bond with all the other cat lovers of the world. It feels like a community. Even in their description:

There may not be cat parks yet, but there’s finally a place to come together and connect with cat owners like you to celebrate your love for your cats.

You can tell, they know their Facebook page is a virtual cat-loving society. They even have people from their company commenting back and interacting with the costumers. So heartwarming.

I think Purina is really smart for how they’re using their page. Who doesn’t like a chance to flaunt their cute little feline? I know I love posting pictures of my cat on Facebook, there must be more like me! Really smart tactic, if you ask me. Not to mention winning money and free cat food? I mean, come on, Purina – make a better deal! I, myself, am head over heals for this contest. I love it; I bet they love it too – all the publicity for their company and showing how passionate they are for what they do. Truly respectable.

A Facebook page filled with cat pictures and cute stories is exactly how I’d spend my night. I never knew this existed until recently and I am so happy I found it. Seriously, genuinely, legitimately happy that this exists. Thank you, Purina Cat Chow, for the delicious food and epic Facebook page.

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