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Introduction Welcome to this ebook entitled “Social Media for Small Business: How to Build an Effective Social Media Marketing Strategy.” In this book I take readers through a high level overview of the impact that social media is having on the world in terms of how communications is done and devise a basic plan to assist you in getting started using social media to grow your business. In the first chapter, I discuss the impact of social media across the globe. Following that, I define what is meant by the term “social media.” I also look at some global trends that mandate its use, and then outline 10 social media marketing principles. Once a foundational understanding of why social media is important and relevant has been established, I get to the heart of this book and lay out a basic plan for social media engagement, then discuss how to create content that engages your customers and keeps them coming back. Last, I wrap up, review what was discussed and determine some next steps. (NOTE: This is the first of a seven part series of books that guide readers through the use of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blogs, location-based social networks such as Foursquare, and online video for marketing purposes.)

The Impact  of  Social  Media  Around  the  Globe   According to comScore Media Metrix1, social networking is now the world’s most popular activity. More than 1.2 billion people – over 82 percent of the world’s online population – uses social media in one form or another. In terms of time spent on key Internet activities worldwide, social networking has grown                                                                                                                 1  comScore  Media  Metrix,  October  2011  

dramatically. Now, nearly one in five minutes spent online is spent on a social network. In every region of the world, and in many countries throughout the globe, engagement in social network activities exceeds 90 percent of the online population. Out of all social networks, Facebook is the most popular. Since its introduction to the general public in 2006, it has grown to be the leading social network in almost every region in the world. The lone exception is the Asia Pacific region, due largely to the fact that China has banned the use of social networks like Facebook and Twitter. In fact, there are only seven markets globally where Facebook is not the leading social network: Brazil, Poland, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam. Here are some other interesting facts about the growth of social media around the world2:

The global social network audience has risen 174% as compared to total Internet usage growth of 88%

One-third of the world’s social networkers are in Asia-Pacific countries

Five of the most engaged social network markets are in Latin America – Argentine, Chile, Peru, Columbia and Venezuela

3 out of 4 minutes on social networking sites are spent on Facebook

1 out of 7 of all online minutes are spent on Facebook

Twitter reaches 1 out of 10 global online users

Local social networks such as Foursquare are making inroads globally

As these facts attest, social media is making a tremendous impact and dramatically changing the nature of communication on a global scale.

Social Media  Defined   Social media can be defined as the democratization of information, transforming people from content readers into content publishers. What that means is, thanks to social media,                                                                                                                 2  comScore  Media  Metrix,  October  2011  

people are no longer just consumers of information, but are now purveyors of it. This conversation is not merely two-way in nature, but consists of many people talking to many other people at the same time. Your challenge will be to cut through the clutter and gain the attention and trust of your customers and prospects. How people communicate has changed and that means our marketing has to change with it. While we still need to determine who comprises our target markets in terms of demographics there is more to it these days. We must also participate in approachable communities of practice. We must establish a presence in social networks where our customers and prospects are gathering. So important is this idea of participation that I refer to it as the fifth “P” of marketing. I want to dispel one myth about social media. It's not the technology that’s most important. I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed by the need to adapt to its use. In fact, if you know how to send an email or use Microsoft Word, you can use most of the social media technology tools available today. What is most important to understand is that social media is about people, and that's where I want to encourage you to place your focus. Well-known public relations professional and author of a number of books on the topic of social media, Brian Solis, put it this way: social media is more about sociology - the way people think, their behaviors, attitudes and opinions - and less about technology. Don't be put off by the fact that social media utilizes technology tools with which you are less familiar. It's more about the “social” and less about the “media” (the technology applications and tools). Social media consists of a toolset to be sure, but it is also represented by a mindset that is characterized by two words: authenticity and transparency. People want what's real. They want to be told the truth and not “advertised” to. I refer to those two words the “double

helix” of social media DNA. In order to use social media most effectively, your company will need to ingrain some of that DNA in your business and company culture. Social media is not meant to be a panacea or replacement for other forms of marketing such as television, radio or print advertising. Instead, it should serve to supplement those other forms. That being said, social media offers its own unique set of benefits. It can be used to: •

Boost brand awareness

Improve customer service

Increase customer loyalty and lifetime value

Promote customer advocacy and ignites word of mouth

Build trust with customers

Promote the discovery of new products

Network with peers and

Get customer feedback

Five Communication  Trends  That  Mandate  the  Need     for  Social  Media   In this chapter, I discuss five communication trends that mandate the need for social media.

Skepticism to  Advertising  is  Growing   The first of these trends is: consumer skepticism and resistance to advertising is growing. That should come as a surprise to no one, but it is increasingly the case. For example, market research firm Yankelovich3 said that 76% of consumers do not believe advertising and marketing messages.

                                                                                                              3  Yankelovich  Marketing  Receptivity  Survey,  2005  

If that is the case, then whom do consumers trust? Each other. The following graph, which comes from a survey conducted by Nielsen4, a research firm, says that we most trust people we know. That makes sense, but look at who we next trust the most - people we don't know, but who, like ourselves, have expressed their opinions online. Interestingly, the fourth most trusted resource, according to Nielsen’s survey, is brand websites. That suggests that it would be a good idea to create a website for your company if you don’t already have one. What we’re dealing with is an “insurgency” among consumers. Global public relationship firm Edelman, in a survey entitled the Edelman Trust Barometer5, found similar results. People trust word of mouth recommendations far more than marketing and advertising messages. 67% of consumer goods sold today come as a result of word of mouth from "average people like me." The survey also found that consumers trust word of mouth recommendations far more than they trust traditional marketing and advertising. And, that people would rather hear about real experiences and perspectives than “marketing-speak.” In other words, people want the real story. They want to be told the truth, not advertised to.

Media Today  is  Fragmented   The second trend affecting the way communication is done is: there are many more media outlets available to consumers today, which makes it much more difficult to get your message out across all media channels. As a result, it’s harder today to get the consumer’s attention. For example, in the 1960s media was very limited. Television stations broadcast through the airwaves locally. Cable and satellite TV had yet to be invented. Similarly, radio was terrestrial only and there were far fewer stations than today. Print media, too, was benign                                                                                                                 4  Nielsen’s  Global  Trust  in  Advertising  Survey,  2011   5  Edelman  Trust  Barometer,  2008  

by comparison. As such, it was much easier to get an advertising and marketing message out across all channels. Today, nothing could be further from the truth. Media is fragmented in so many ways. In many countries the average television viewer has access to hundreds of channels. Both television and radio are now broadcast via satellite and the Internet. As far as print media is concerned, there is a magazine or periodical to appeal to every taste and interest. Thanks to DVRs and devices like TiVo, much of the media we consume is done on our own terms. We control the consumption when it fits our schedule, not the broadcasters.

Consumers Are  in  Control     If media fragmentation is out of control, increasingly, the consumer is in control of communication. Advertising and marketing communication used to be broadcast in a one-way direction, and media and advertisers had the control. Though advertising is still quite pervasive, more and more, people are talking to each other via social networks. As a result, communication is peer-to-peer in orientation. Often, marketers may not be a participant in the conversation or even privy to it.

Advertising is  More  Targeted     Media innovation has enabled more targeted advertising. Today, the pressure is on to improve targeting and minimize waste. There is an old adage that says, “Half my advertising dollar is wasted, I just don't know which half.” That's where the Internet, including social media, can become an advocate. So much of the money we spend in online marketing can be tracked, and we can gain a better perspective on how our dollar is being spent and the return on our investment.

Companies Are  Held  Accountable     Companies are being held to new levels of accountability. No longer are consumers putting up with shoddy products, false advertising, indifferent customer service, etc. They now have a voice called social media where they freely express their opinions. Companies are being held to a new standard like never before. In the way of a review, here are the five communication trends that mandate the need for the use of social media:

There is increased consumer skepticism and resistance to advertising.

There are many more media outlets today, making it more difficult to gain consumer attention.

Increasingly, consumers control communication channels.

Media innovation has enabled more targeted advertising.

Companies are held to greater levels of accountability.

Whether you choose to engage in social media or not, you can be sure your customer is. So, wouldn't it be better if you chose to participate as well?

10 Social  Media  Marketing  Principles   In this chapter, I review 10 foundational principles that should guide your thinking about how to use social media.

1. Everyone  Has  a  Voice     The first principle – and one of the most important – is that, thanks to how prevalent the use of social media has become, everyone has a voice and every voice matters. Even my 81-year-old mother is on Facebook! Everyone has some degree of influence these days thanks to social media.

However, some people are more active within social networks like Facebook and Twitter and, therefore, have an even greater degree of influence. It's those influencers that you want to try and target, because they are the ones who can most effectively help spread your message.

2. Word  of  Mouth  is  More  Important  Than  Ever     Word of mouth is more important now that ever before. We discussed the importance and impact of word of mouth earlier, so let's move on to the next principle.

3. Listening  is  the  New  Marketing     If people have influence and they are talking to one another using social networks, then, as marketers, we better be listening to what they have to say.

4. Lose  Control  of  Your  Content     Make the content you produce online more freely sharable and easier to access. Encourage people to participate with you in the spread of your marketing message, even to the point of helping to co-create the message. Due to its viral nature, social media makes this easy to do.

5. Social  Media  Impacts  Product  Research     When it comes to doing product research, where do people start? Usually, it’s on search engines, particularly Google. If you're fortunate enough for them to find your website, that's great, but that's also where social media plays an important role. It's at that point that people begin to rely on the influence and advice of friends, as well as the opinions of others online when making product purchase decisions. They are also influenced by the voices of experts and may even look at what your competitors have to offer. This illustration comes from the research firm Forrester and describes what is referred to as the purchase funnel. Advertising and marketing got consumers’ attention, and

purchase decisions were made in a much more streamlined manner. At one time, it did indeed resemble a funnel, but that is no longer the case. Today, that funnel looks more like a “Rube Goldberg” invention. Advertising and marketing is still getting consumer's attention, and buyers do come out the other end, but it's in the middle where having a presence in social media is vital, because doing so can mean the difference between customers doing business with you or with your competitor down the street…or across the globe.

6. Shared  Connections  Not  Information  Silos     The web today is more about “shared connections” and less about “information silos.” Allow me to explain. There was a time when, if all you had was a website, that was well and fine. There were fewer of them and it was easier to rank highly in search engines. That is no longer the case. If you have a website, instead of thinking of it as the only place where your company needs an online presence, think of it as a “hub,” a clearinghouse of information from which content gets syndicated out to social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Conversely, make sure those same social networks facilitate traffic back to your site. One reason to have more than just a website is that it is becoming increasingly more likely that people will first find your company or its products through social networks. Indeed, the scale is tipping in favor of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and others. In my estimation, you need both a website and a presence within social media. The benefits to having a website are four-fold: you control the design and branding, you own the data, you can provide better targeting and personalization options, and you can reach the entirety of your target market.

There are a number of benefits to having a presence in social media, as well: it’s an inherently interactive medium; it’s where people are gathering; it’s easy to set up; and there is a greater likelihood your message can spread virally and reach more people.

7. Watchwords  of  the  Social  Web     There are some key watchwords to which you need to pay attention: Global, Social, Local and Mobile. Of course we know the web is global. It’s very likely you are connected to people on social networks from throughout the globe. However, there is a new type of consumer evolving called the “SoLoMo” consumer. They rely on the influence of social network friends and, more and more, are using mobile technologies to find local information, and locate local companies with which to do business.

8. Facebook  is  the  Operating  System  of  the  Social  Web     As was outlined earlier, Facebook has become the predominant social network in most regions of the globe. In fact, it is becoming the “operating system” of the social web. And, with more than 1 billion users, it's not going away anytime soon.

9. The  Web  is  Real-­‐Time  and  All-­‐the-­‐Time     Thanks to growing prevalence in the use of mobile technologies and devices, we are always on, or have the capacity to be. And we expect information to be delivered to us in the blink of an eye. As one social media expert put it, these days real-time is not fast enough.

10. Social  Media  Does  Not  Have  to  be  Expensive     Lastly, and this is good news especially for small business, it doesn't have to be expensive to use social media. It costs nothing to use social networks like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. While I'm not suggesting it's absolutely free - the investment of time is the greatest cost - compared to more traditional forms of marketing and advertising, it's a bargain!

One small business, Blendtec, a maker of high quality blenders, found this to be the case. Using a hand-held video camera and about $50 to purchase some items that would be ground in the blender – a bag of marbles, yard rake, a roasted chicken (yes, a roasted chicken) - the company created a series of videos, which it uploaded for viewing on YouTube. So successful has that effort been that the initial $50 outlay has yielded an increase in annual revenue of 700 percent! Truly, using social media does not have an expensive proposition. What we're talking about here is the way the web works today, and that's different that it worked 15, 10, or even 5 years ago. You may like it or not, as the case may be, but that's the way that it is. The more quickly you adapt to these principles and new ways of communication, the better your chances of reaching new customers and building loyalty among your current ones.

Building a  Strategic  Social  Media  Marketing  Plan   In this chapter, I get to the heart of this book and outline the steps necessary to build a strategic social media marketing engagement plan. Please do not underestimate the importance of approaching your use of social media strategically and with a plan. Not doing so is akin to shooting in the dark. Another of way to look at it is like a pinball machine. You pull the lever and the ball bounces around all over the place. Unfortunately, that's how many small businesses approach the use of social media. They set up a Facebook page, Twitter account, upload videos to YouTube, etc. without any real sense of how those sites will benefit them, or without any cohesive plan. I want to spare you from spending time in what is, very often, an exercise in futility. Successful social media engagement involves three aspects: strategic thinking, engaging content, and the use of tools designed for the purpose of managing your social media marketing efforts. Let’s start by understanding how to approach the use of social media

from a strategic vantage point.

Start with  a  Strategy     Essentially, only three steps are needed to set up a strategic plan. The first is to identify and determine your overall marketing communications goals and objectives. Once you've made that determination, the second step is to focus on your customer or target market. Typically, when we think about who our customer is, we think in terms of demographics. But I also want you to think about where your customer maintains a presence online. In which social networks do they participate? Knowing this information will help you determine where you need to establish a presence to intersect them. In a later module, we will discuss some software applications that can assist you with this step. After you have determined your marketing goals and objectives, and know whom it is you want to reach and where they maintain a presence online, then you can better determine how social media can benefit you. That's the third step. There are some questions you need to ask and answer as it pertains to each step. Under marketing goals and objectives ask the following:

What do you want to accomplish?

What are your marketing goals and objectives irrespective of channel? In other words, don’t think of social media or any other marketing channel – television, radio or print, for example. Focus on what it is you want to accomplish overall.

What is the marketing message that you wish to convey? This message may vary at different times. Sometimes, you will want to focus on specific campaigns such as seasonal sales. At other times, you may want to focus on branding, or emphasize a specific product line.

As it pertains to customer attitudes and opinions you should ask:

Who is your target market?

Where do they maintain a presence online?

Which social networks do they use?

What are they saying about your brand, products, services or industry?

When it comes to thinking about the ways social media can benefit you think about such things as:

What role can social media play in your overall marketing efforts?

In which social networks do you need to establish a presence?

How can you begin to engage the customer?

Social media is not a panacea, nor is it an antidote to other marketing maladies. Neither it is designed to replace all other forms of marketing, including those that are more traditional (TV, radio, print, outdoor). Social media is designed to supplement your existing marketing plan, not creating an entirely new strategy.

Set Marketing  Goals     You need to decide on up to three marketing goals you want to accomplish. Please be as specific as possible. While we all want to increase sales and produce higher profits, those may be too general for our purposes here. After each goal, make it even more specific by defining a measureable objective then determine in what ways you plan to measure it. For example, one goal might be to increase the number of visitors to your website. Your objective could be to increase that number by 10 percent each month for six months. The way you will measure it is by tracking the visits using an analytics platform such as Google Analytics.

Define Your  Customer     Next, focus on defining your customer from a demographics perspective. The better you understand your customer, the better you can target your marketing efforts, including social media marketing, to reach them. As previously stated, it’s not enough just to understand who your customer is, you also need to know where they maintain a presence online, including social networks like Facebook and Twitter. You will want to find out such things as:

Where your customers maintain a presence in the social web.

What they are doing there and what types of activities they participate in.

What topics they are discussing that are relevant to your business and the products you sell, and who the influencers are – those who are most likely to help spread your message.

This information is valuable, as it will guide you in determining the social networks where you need to establish a presence. There are software applications designed specifically for the purpose of gathering this type of information, which will be discussed in a later chapter. As you identify where your target market maintains a presence within social networks, list difference audience segments, the social network used, and the types of activities in which they participate. This data can be invaluable when making determinations about not only who to target, but how to engage them in social media.

Choose Social  Channels     Based on the identified marketing objectives and target market characteristics, prioritize and choose up to three applicable social channels for your business to establish a presence. In addition, outline the tactical steps necessary to establish a presence there. You may also wish to identify some ways in which you will use a particular channel.

For example, perhaps you determine that Facebook is one place where you should establish a presence. The tactical step in this case is to create a Facebook business page, which is also known as a “fan” page. Based on what you have learned, you decide it’s in your best interest to use it for the purpose of brand building, product promotion and fan engagement. Twitter may be another network where a presence is needed. In this case, the tactical step is to set up a Twitter account and use it to announce special promotions and as a customer service channel. Lastly, you might decide to use Foursquare, a location-based social network, to increase traffic into your store. The tactical step in this instance is to sign up for a Foursquare Merchant account, which will allow you to create special “check-in” deals to increase footfall among new customers and build loyalty among existing customers.

Learn from  Competitors     Another step you may wish to take is to research how your competitors are using social media. What channels are they using, and in what ways are they engaging customers? This data may give you insight into ways you can use social media that you had not thought of. It may also provide the necessary incentive to start engaging within social media. Even better, you may find that your competitors aren’t using social media significantly, which means you can get a jump-start on the competition and establish your business as the brand of record.

Create Engaging  Content   As was mentioned in the last chapter, effective social media engagement mandates the need to create engaging content for your customers, prospects, fans and followers to consume. In this chapter, I outline a plan for creating such content. The first order of business is to define what we mean by “content.” When it comes to

social media, content can be anything – Facebook status updates, Twitter tweets, videos, images, or blog posts. In fact, just about anything you can think of posting to a social network can be considered content. The key point to keep in mind is that social media is driven by content. If you expect to gain the attention and trust of customers and prospects, then you should think like a publisher and commit to creating great content. Setting the content plan in motion requires four steps: determine your content focus; determine the types of content you wish to produce; determine how often you can publish (or post) content; and create a content calendar for the purpose of scheduling your posts.

1. Determine  Content  Focus     The first order of business is to determine your content focus. By focus I mean the direction in which you want to take your content, as well as its tone. For example, content can be educational in nature with “how-to” posts, helpful tips and product-related information. Or, it might be entertaining using humorous videos, photos or light-hearted status updates and tweets. Alternatively, is could promotional focusing on sales promotions, discounts or special events you host. Better yet, it could be a combination of the three. Regardless, your goal is to create content that stimulates engagement among fans and followers within social media. Some other ideas to consider: focus on content that is thought provoking or that demonstrates your knowledge and thought leadership. Also, focus on content that is consistent with the mission and culture of your business.

2. Determine  Content  Types     Once you’ve determined the content focus, next think about the different types of content you can produce. That will depend, in part, on the social media channels you are using – blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc – but don’t limit your thinking to one specific channel. In fact, it’s best to provide a mix of content in the form of videos, photos, blog

posts, Facebook status updates and Twitter tweets. Each social media channel has its own unique features and benefits. No matter which channel you choose, it's best if you understand how your customer is using them. Social networks like Facebook can be a strong reach and high efficiency platform that serves as a hub for all your social media engagement activities. Video and photo sharing sites like YouTube and Flickr can serve as places to archive content which gets distributed through other channels. And blogs can become nichemarket penetration tools to reach individual audience segments.

3. Determine  Posting  Frequency     Next, determine your posting frequency – how often you plan to post. Part of that determination will be made based on the amount of time you have to create content, and there is no “one size fits all” solution. To some extent, the more content you create the better off you are. That being said, here are some suggested guidelines:

Blog posts should be written at least once per week.

Facebook should be updated on a daily basis.

Twitter posts can be more frequent, up to 3 – 5 times per day.

You will also want to post at the optimal time. Only you know will know what’s right for your business, and that often comes as a result of trial and error. Optimal posting times can be determined by the level of engagement you have with fans and followers, so it’s important to pay attention to when you post, as well as the types of content you post. For example, videos tend to receive more engagement than text-based posts. Facebook provides an analytics component called “Insights” that can help you in determining optimal times to post there. A tool called Edge Rank Checker can help you determine the best times to post on Facebook.

4. Create  a  Content  Calendar     Once you know where you want to post content, the focus and types of content you want to produce, and have determined the posting frequency, the next step is to develop a content calendar to schedule your posts. One person even referred to it as a "conversation" calendar. What I’m referring to is a calendar whereby you create a series of content entries for use on social networks. Calendars can be created on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis and can be done using a spreadsheet or, preferably, a social media management application designed for that purpose. Here is an example of a content calendar using a spreadsheet based on a monthly posting schedule. At the top of the spreadsheet is a field to include the name of the month, along with a field for listing the major theme for that month, should you choose to use one. This could include such themes as holiday sales, special product promotions, marketing campaigns, or anything else you choose to emphasize. In the left-hand column are the social media channels that will be posted to. The subsequent columns set forth posting schedules on a weekly basis for each week during the month. A better way to manage your social media engagement activities, including creating a content calendar, is through the use of social media management applications designed specifically for this purpose. I refer to these applications as “tools.” These tools enable you to more effectively and efficiently manage every aspect of your social media engagement from content creation, to content syndication, to community management. For example, rather than writing a blog post, then going to Facebook, Twitter or other social networks to repost the content, these tools automate the process for you. Further,

they provide a single dashboard through which you can engage with your fans and followers and administer each of your social media channels. In other words, let the tools do much of the work for you and save the valuable time needed to run your business. Some of the tools I recommend include:

Sprout Social



Vertical Response

Each of these software applications is available for use in multiple languages and is affordably priced. Some, like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, are free to use as the base level. One of the best and most affordable tools I have found is Sprout Social. It performs just about every operation and function you would ever need. Using it you can:

Publish & schedule updates across social channels with a single click.

Monitor your brand and competition across social channels and the web. This is especially useful when doing research on where your customers and target audiences maintain a presence online.

Connect with highly targeted customers through the discovery tools it provides.

Measure the success of your social media engagement with reporting and analytics tools.

Collaborate with other team members, assign tasks and set permissions.

Monitor Foursquare Check-Ins and visitor loyalty, and

Manage it all on the go with a mobile version of the application.

Of course, there are many other such tools available, and the best way to find them is through a keyword search on search engines using terms like “social media management software.”

In terms of social media engagement, content is king. Engaging content can set you apart from your competition, help establish you as a thought leader and knowledgeable expert, keep your business top of mind with consumers, and can provide the leverage needed to keep your customers coming back time after time.

Review, Wrap-­‐up  and  Next  Steps   Let's review what we've learned in this ebook. We have:

Discussed the impact social media is having around the globe;

Defined what we mean by the term “social media”;

Outlined five global communication trends that mandate the need for social media;

Shared 10 foundational principles of social media marketing;

Talked about the steps involved in building a strategic social media plan;

Looked at ways to create engaging content, and;

Showed you several tools you can use to manage social media engagement.

The question that remains is, “Where do we go from here?” Here are some next steps to take as you begin the process of engaging consumers within social media:

First, be easy on yourself.

Do one thing then add others. For example, start by setting up a Twitter account or Facebook Page. (I will talk about how to do this in subsequent books in the series.) Don’t feel as if you have to establish a presence in social media everywhere at once. Gain mastery using one channel, and then add others when it’s appropriate to do so.

Accept that it will take time to build a fan and follower base. This doesn’t happen overnight. Social media requires consistent effort over time.

Use a state-of-the-art mobile device to manage social media on the go. The world is becoming increasingly mobile. Don’t constrain yourself to waiting until you are sitting in front of a laptop or desktop computer. A start of the art mobile device such as an iPhone or Android will provide you with the most flexibility to engage your consumers in real-time and at a time when it’s most convenient for you.

Recognize that social media marketing requires a long-term commitment – stay with it! Think of social media like you would a marriage.

Start now! There is no time like the present to being marketing your business through social media.

Social Media for Small Business, Volume 1  

Ebook that outlines how to create a strategic social media marketing plan.

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