It’s your community, not your audience

Two approaches, either we overvalue the concept of an audience o we undervalue the meaning of a community. The public is not your community, audience is not the community neither.

Public is the part of the market that it’s eager to listen what we have to say, but not necessarily has to. Audience are those who really listen to use and the community is those who we must listen.

  • Connect, don’t be a pain in the ass.
  • Listen, shut up.
  • Reply, it’s not about you.
  • Care.
  • Help, don’t offer.
  • Lead, don’t manage.
  • Share, don’t sell.
  • Consolidate, don’t gossip.
  • Give, don’t wait.
  • Add.
  • Push, don’t instigate.
  • Enhance, don’t ignore.
  • Show, don’t hide.
  • Educate, don’t talk.

The people you think they should listen to you are precisely the ones you should listen. It’s your community, not your audience.

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The theory of a new Internet

The Internet is a human forward motion machine, basically because connections scale. In that precise moment, information begets for more information and influence, paradoxically this allows other people connecting easily amongst them, that collision provokes the effect that anyone with talent or passion will be able to create the connection that increase the impact of the action, interaction o relationship.

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A “how to” solution for life-changing messages

You suddenly get an email, LinkedIn or Facebook message, a DM on Twitter or, better still, a Whatsapp message regarding a life-altering project, conference or idea. You know the one; the train that only goes by once in a lifetime (even if you receive “life-changing messages” of the sort every day!) The thing is: this is the project of a lifetime if you’re willing to do it selflessly. Oh well!

solution life-changing messages

Answering a life-changing message

I offer you a series of tips, questions and issues to mention whenever a “life-changing message” arrives in your inbox:

1. Formality: “Thank you [person’s name] for thinking of me for such an opportunity. I feel truly flattered. I find your proposal really interesting [that is, if you really find it interesting; otherwise, you’re better off ending your message soon in a direct, yet polite and elegant manner.] I have a few questions that could help me to better understand it.”

2. Intro: “What you propose sounds really good and I’m willing to get on board. However, in order to focus my energy on your idea I need something other than a simple goals-based incentive. I need to see that you believe in me as much as you say you do. What would you call that trust, interest and passion for me and my work?”.

3. Attack: “If possible, I’d like you to get into the following issues in detail:”

  • What can you offer me that can be of interest to me?
  • How would this help me strengthen what I’m currently doing?
  • What do you know about me?
  • How do you know that what I do can strengthen what you’re looking for?
  • What would my goals be exactly?
  • How will you assess whether or not I meet those goals?
  • Besides what I stand to gain if I accept, what else would I gain if I meet the goals?
  • What would be my specific objectives and responsibilities were I to become a part of your (company, event, etc.)?
  • What is the duration of the project / idea / collaboration / workshops?
  • What resources would be available to me (team, transport, expenses, equipment, budget, etc.)?
  • Can I count on the people I work with?
  • Can you send me a contract with everything we’ve talked about?

4. End: “I think that once these issues are clarified, if we’re on the same page then we’ll be able to get down to it and start whenever you’re ready.” (Here’s where you include the final greetings).

And then…

There are two options after this. Firstly, you never hear from that person again. Secondly, they get back to you. If their answer has nothing to do with your questions or, simply, if they don’t answer them directly, then you can politely say ‘thanks but no thanks’ and move on to something else. If they do answer specifically and to the point but you’re not interested, then same again. Otherwise, if you’re interested, get on with it!

This post is yours. Copy it, save it on your Evernote, on Del.ici.ous or in your notes. You can use it as a template whenever you feel like it. It will save you time and bother every time you get one of these life-changing messages.

Was this a useful tool?

Photo credit: Will Lion.

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How to Create Human Relations with your Online Community

You can’t create a community without strong, cohesive human relations (regardless of whether these are online or offline). Without them, it won’t be happening. If you don’t have an emotional tie, forget about creating a community; people just won’t show up!.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen overnight. As you must already be aware of, this takes time and, rather than time, it requires creating solid relationships that help you shape such a community. Relationships are based on trust and such trust must be believable, valuable and loyal.

human relations online community

Adding value can take many shapes. You need to learn how your audience views the world, what they like, how they think, what they don’t like, how they perceive you and much more. Value could come in the shape of social objects: videos, photos, graphic work, etc. There are endless ways in which we can add value in this connected economy we’re living: answering questions, speaking of the people who’re doing a great job, returning influence to those who deserve it (those under you); remember, your  words and actions can lead to a great change in those people.

Think of your audience, take care of them, listen to them and then do something. Create human relations.

Transparency

Say who you are and why you’re here. Establish a purpose and communicate it to your audience. Even if you’re here to sell something, we want to know your true intentions. Otherwise, we won’t come near you! No relationship is possible without honesty. People populating every community are increasingly smarter; so, be careful: they’ll smell you out like a rat!

Consistency

You need consistent communication and marketing; not only from you but from anyone in your company who may be in contact with your social media sphere. There’s no break here; you’re under the spotlight every day, consistently. Alignment is a key concept: you can’t talk about one promotion in a newsletter and a different one on Twitter. Keep things simple and don’t confuse people!

Don’t Sell Blatantly

Resist the temptation of endlessly posting about your products or talking to your community about everything you do, how great you are, the great results you’ve achieved, the excellence of your products, how great your company is and all the good things they’re missing. We’re sure that’s the case but there are other options out there that aren’t you. You’re here to share experiences, to connect and resonate and to create interactions that will hopefully lead to people discovering all of the abovementioned. Give them something they didn’t have.

You’re marketing products, not people.

Appreciate the Attention

Attention is scarce. Whether you’re creating a Pinterest board about your brand, writing a review in a post, recording a video testimonial or sharing pictures, you should understand that your audience has more important things to do than to talk about you. Gain people’s attention by telling stories that can help them, improve them or stories they can benefit from. That will make them interested in your brand and that means getting their attention.

Do something

This never fails: don’t wait for your community to do something for you; do something for them first. That will set the difference because, basically, no one’s doing it. We all wait for a recommendation, a post that talks about us or a video-homage. Keep waiting!

Photo credit: SFBBO click off photo contest.

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Content is your best product, definitely

content is your best product

If you value your content like you value a product, you realise that you have the opportunity to “sell” your product every time you create and publish content. Usually, like a product, the only content that really sets the difference is that which we create ourselves, our own crafted content, not the one we’re taking from somewhere else and simply sharing.

Take a look:

Newsletter / RSS / Database

To provide quality content that makes a change in a free private newsletter take a look at what Carlos Bravo is doing. Monday or Tuesday could be a great day for this. Perhaps you may consider doing it over the weekend, aiming to create a tribe outside the noise of the busiest days. That’s exactly what Chris Brogan does, with a long, active database that he nurtures, giving him a competitive edge. I’m currently working on the daily RSS subscriptions to my blog and they continue to rise. The greater the audience, the more new people I “bump into”. This has led to an increase in the average business opportunities (“leads”) coming through my blog: increasing to 0.9 per day (up by 0.3 compared to 2012).

Audio / Podcast

Provide audio content. Have you considered carrying out a weekly podcast that your audience may listen to while they’re practicing sport, working or going from one place to another? Juan Merodio has been doing this with his posts for a couple of years and they have now been listened to 200,000 times. Another idea is turning this audio content into subscription podcasts published through a programme (for instance, iTunes), allowing you to choose your own periodicity.

Video

Video as content. In his channel, Valentí Sanjuán entertains, connects and has something to say. With his videos, he reaches more people than any other blogger in Spain. His reach and impact continue to grow daily as a result of the significant emotional bond that his audiovisual content provides. Valentí has created a line of branded content that is tightly linked to a community of followers that continues to grow with every video he publishes. It’s easy to see how he cleverly “calls to action” in every video, pointing towards other videos that may be of interest to his audience. This maximises the experience, contact and bond with the content, making a huge impact. In the case of Valentí this is further strengthened by the great personal brand that he’s building around himself and his work.

Ebook / Book

You can compile your best and most valuable posts into a book or ebook, for offline or online use. In that way, people can read you while they travel by train or plane. This has worked for Seth Godin, or Guy Kawasaki with “What the plus!”. However, you don’t need to be a celebrity to compile a book based on your articles or posts and turn it into an ebook; anyone can do it, with next-to-nothing marginal costs involved. This makes it possible for anyone who writes to become their own publishing house. If the content is good, you will reach thousands, hundreds of thousands or, who knows, maybe millions of readers. Couldn’t it work for you? I’m going to try this out. I’m currently preparing my second book, which I was writing at the same time as my first. Let’s see what comes of it!

Sharing content is really great, but tell me something: why look at you if you do exactly the same as anyone else?

Bonus: perhaps that “anyone else” has been doing exactly that for many years.

Photo credit: Gauravonomics.

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What needs to be done in Social Media so it doesn’t die?

During my intervention at the Madrid Music Days event last year, I stated my idea, reasoning and examples of why social media marketing as we know it is coming to an end. I rescue here four of the most important points of my speech about what we can do so that Social Media doesn’t die. Note: this won’t avoid its evolution, however.

what needs to be done in social media so don't die

What needs to be done in Social Media so it doesn’t die?

This is the approach we’ve been working on for the past two years and it’s working.

1. Social platforms are communication and marketing channels and, as we’ve proven, are still viable sales channels. However, they need to be led correctly. They need a coherent strategy and execution that focuses on results, on connecting with our community, therefore creating certain resonance with our people in a dynamic, interesting and brilliant way.

Social Media doesn’t create a different world; neither does it invent or define. This is something that only comes about with an idea, initiative, project or business. At the end of the day, it’s only marketing through a new means of communication. Navigate your project or brand through these channels, seeking a clear, defined project. Do so without losing track of the people because, most of all, you need them right now. The value you provide is the value that the world will give in return.

2. Symbiotic models have always worked best (except in the case of Spiderman and his alter ego). Throwing conventional communication and marketing out of the window was, still is and will always be a dumb idea!

Look for a cross media strategy. Traditional communication isn’t dead, PR is extremely useful for word-of-mouth, there are still a variety of offline means to cross over to digital communication. Use what you do well out there, such as sales, to bring your customers to your company blog or to have a 24/7 customer service over Twitter.

3. Companies that claim to care about people but who can’t be bothered to interact with their buyers can ignore all of this. We’re ignoring you in one way or another.

Ask, listen, do something with all of this. Look out for conversations, take part in them. Recommend services that are in line with your audience, become “the person to turn to if I need something” and let the results speak for themselves.

4. If you want to use the social web and the great opportunity that lies therein, at least attempt things, learn from them, fail often, experiment, fine-tune, use any feedback you get, be creative and try something different; all of this before, during and after using social media. There’s no other way. That’s my recipe to get to where you’re so good that no one can ignore you.

Should you advertise on Facebook? If that’s your concern, there’s so much more you should be concerned about. Is being on Pinterest worth it? Who knows. Should you programme your tweets? Have you ever tried this and measured the results obtained? The only way to get an answer to these and many other similar questions is to just go for it and try it out. You need to work with the social web thoroughly to understand what works and what doesn’t. The best –or worst– thing about this is that it’s a day-to-day job. What worked yesterday may not work today, or what works today may not work tomorrow.

The direction that such work is taking means that if you want to make the social web to work for you, it must become a part of all your business processes. It’s not less important but, rather, the driving current. The work you carry out is part of your marketing, your customer services, internal communications, human resources; it’s part of your company’s wiring. It’s a part of it all!

What else needs to be done here? What’s your role?

Photo credit: hollywoodhollows.

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13 ways to add human understanding to the Internet

If the Internet is made up of people, I don’t understand why brands use the Internet to communicate and market their products in a way that keeps them at a distance from human relations. If human relations are the essence of the social media, I don’t understand why no one is connecting and humanising instead of just sending out the same message 100 times, aiming to have an impact or simply wanting us to click on an ad in Facebook, LinkedIn or during a YouTube video.

add understanding to the internet

How to add the human touch and understanding to the Internet

Thinking about this, I hope some of the things included here may help us to understand the term “humanise” in regard to the Internet and social media.

1. Establish the foundations for listening: spend your time processing everything that’s being said about you or your organisation and do something with this. For instance, you can offer an answer to your audience. You may not know this but they’re the new “killer App”.

2. Respond to LinkedIn invites in a personal way, reviewing the other person’s profile, taking care in how to word your message to connect with the other party. Offer individual personalised answers and don’t use templates. It works for me. The same goes for emails.

3. Start or finish any comment, message, tweet, recommendation, review or shared content by naming the person you’re addressing.

4. Always answer any comment made and try to do what you’d like people to do with you: leave a comment, RT, “like”, “recommend”, “vote” or mention.

5. Speak positively, deal with situations with optimism, even when faced with harsh criticism or comments. Don’t lose your nerve and let humour reign. Researchers from Georgia Tech found that staying positive, useful and resonating is a tactic that leads to the trust and credibility needed for people to purchase at our store.

6. Look for ways to be innovative, staying true to yourself. For instance, use a word or catchphrase that is close to you, even one you make up. For instance, “rock on”. It may seem daft but try it out and see.

7. Look for conversations that are close to your interests. For instance, the contact made between a designer and a programmer to create a new blog, or contacts made between food lovers and the cooking blog you’ve discovered. So, make that introduction, connect!

8. Take an interest on subjects that may also be of interest to your audience and offer them information. For instance, if you’re a hotel, recommend tour routes. If you’re a dinner restaurant, talk about places where you can go for a drink later or recommend clubs. If you’re a club, recommend a good after-party.

9. Filter information that may be useful to your community and transform it into actionable points you can work with. For instance, if you provide a guide on how to install plug-ins in WordPress, explain exactly what plug-ins you need to install and summarise the steps you need to take in a direct way. Otherwise, you’re not really contributing anything new.

10. Perhaps through your experience and knowledge, even through your failures, you may extract conclusions, reflections or moments –transferred into content- that may connect with your audience and which betters them. This would be equipping them. Try talking about when you lost your nerve with a client, when you launched a campaign with the wrong target or when you paid your Facebook “Ads” with the wrong credit card.

11. Look for conversations regarding your brand on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google+ (hint: look for hashtags and keywords). When you find them, engage in them, contribute your point of view, share, recommend, provide information or clarify doubts.

12. Every time you want to read something interesting, spend 5 minutes looking for it among the content posted by your audience / followers / fans. You’re sure to find something worthwhile, something you can share and recommend. We’ll be grateful!

13. Ask your community what they want from you, don’t be afraid! Then, work towards making it possible if you can’t offer it right away. For instance, if people complained that there weren’t enough women in your last event, work to fix this in time for the next event.

Obvious?

I honestly think I’m not really discovering uncharted territory here. Neither is it a cure for all. Similarly, discovering humanity on the Internet or in social media is a greatly complex task. A paradox perhaps? What do you think?

Photo credit: al shep.

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Strategic Human Media Integration Model

How can we work in social media if we show no interest for people, if we don’t consider their relevance? How can we be professionals in the field and, at the same time, ignore what happens afterwards? Can we learn to accept change without doing the work, simply expecting applause and a standing ovation? What changes can we implement in the digital world to connect with and change our own audience?

I created the first theoretical social media integration model in December 2009. What I find fascinating is how it has evolved over the years, until now, with 2014 just round the corner.

How has strategic integration evolved?

New skills in an interconnected environment, the adaptation to social platforms, the different approaches to new online tools, the change in strategies and tactics towards further interaction, engagement and the consolidation of relationships, perception and understanding of ecosystems in the social web, and the digital revolution, of course. All of this has made social media integration become a more direct, human and connected model, creating a more powerful social and human web. The start of Human Media.

I have been working for a while towards understanding and figuring out how the new environment works and how a new conception of all the above changes social media integration in the business environment.

Human-media-integration-theory-model

The meaning of this

Users generally prefer connections over sales, sharing over creating, resonance over influence and relationships over promotions. This is further amplified by the sheer number of elements that take part in the integration of online platforms and tools in any communication or marketing model today. Platforms that humanise, filter and select contents (content curating) improve the chances of a social object being shared by a larger number of kindred spirits.

Connectivity between platforms results from the users’ “shareability” ratio: the more relevant, emotional and segmented the content you share, the greater connectivity you create with kindred spirits (you can call them potential clients or community). This will inevitably lead to positive visibility and will make it easier for your brand to interact with the people in the community to which you have gained access. This generates a continuous feedback flow resulting from the high level of input generated from visibility to a potential audience, connectivity with these persons and the resulting interaction. However, such inputs are meaningless without perception, understanding, assessment, implementation and reaction to the feedback channelled from social networks and from actively listening to these platforms.

It’s convergence, it’s connection, it’s human

Integration converges with an ecosystem that focuses more on connecting with users than on bombarding them with promotions. A good handling and use of the feedback provided will inevitably generate more traffic and trust, as does sharing what you’re interested in with your audience (usually as a result of feedback), only that it will also afford you credibility and exposure, and a certain authority resulting from having something of value to offer. Authority is a good thing, something you wish to have. Something which is helped daily by microblogging services, geolocation services and online publication services.

A factor to be taken into account is how, as a result of the emotional, human and relational impact of this economy, platforms remain on the outside of such integration; even in the case of a vital element such as a blog: the effects and properties that favour the people remain on the inside and build a crucial system, a resonance between brands and people.

Is there a happy ending to all this?

Of course! The agents that truly strengthen, influence and act as a lever in this setting and all its different channels, aren’t the social platforms or tools. These are only the means towards strategic integration.

How do you think that the social web converges, collides and integrates with this increasingly human and interconnected economy?

Appeared first on Social Media Today.

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What to do with your online influence

online influenceAre you influential on the Internet and the Social Web or any other field influenced by this connected economy? Tip 1: all fields have been affected. Tip 2: we’re all influential to some extent or other. However, what do you do with this influence? Anything at all? Have you ever thought about doing something that benefits not only you but helps those who probably provide you with such influence?

To save you some time racking your brain, here are some tried and tested ideas that may help you return some of that influence to those who created it and deserve it –your audience, community, fans, followers, supporters, you name it. Clue: Lady Gaga, Calvin Harris, Avicii, Brtiney Spears, Ashton Kutcher, Pete Cashmore, Robert Downey Jr. or Sergio Ramos aren’t really considered to be part of your community.

Things you can do with your influence

So, here are some ideas that will help you know what to do with your influence so that you can contribute to helping the people who make you influential.

  • What about dedicating a section in your personal or professional blog to talk about the people around you who’re doing a great job? This can be local businesses, your own team members, stories from people you don’t know but who inspire you, stories that may also help your community and readers. You could do this on a set day of the week (Fridays for instance?) or every other week.  You can give it a special name to identify this series of posts.
  • Create a local event making the most of your reach, influence and network so that people with great ideas and best practices can take part, people who may not have 10,000 followers on Twitter or a fan page on Facebook. They may not even have a blog, so no one needs to freak out and start running. You may encourage them more than anyone else and, more importantly, make them known to people in your network who would benefit from meeting them. There are several options: seminars, round-table conferences, workshops or even online events.
  • Prepare a monthly video recommendation about the person who has contributed, helped, impacted, encouraged or influenced you and your people the most. This doesn’t necessarily mean the person who has done the most for you. Sometimes, someone will simply arrive and do something that no one else has done for us. It could be the polite way someone greets you or treats you at a restaurant or hotel, or a good morning smile when you’re going to breakfast or a sincere apology that was truly unnecessary.
  • Make the most of your YouTube channel to interview young entrepreneurs who know what they want. Let the businesspeople in your neighbourhood/town/city tell the story of how they started a business that is now the leader in online sales, ahead of their competition.
  • Talks and meetings with young people who’re off to university or university students who’re about to finish their studies. These two groups are often lost in this system. Your influence may become a beacon to them.
  • Share interesting businesses in your area or neighbourhood in your Twitter or LinkedIn accounts. I’m not talking about multinationals, but rather local businesses.
  • Use Foursquare or Yelp to leave tips or reviews about these businesses and share them with your community so that people know about them. Checking-in and sharing on Twitter will also help. Tip: it doesn’t take an invitation on their behalf for you to recommend them or post a picture on Instagram. You may offer before getting anything from them; it’s a great way of helping.
  • You can use a hashtag on Instagram to upload pictures of places, people or businesses you love and that you believe others should know about and visit.
  • Go all-out and gather stories, experiences, thoughts and practices from ordinary extraordinary people who wish to inspire and equip other people through such personal and professional narratives.
  • #FF people who’ve helped you in your work during the week or more anonymous people who’ve made you change the way you interact significantly, or simply people who’ve had a special consideration towards you, someone from your team or professionals who’re doing their job well. I’d love to see more #FF for “ordinary/extraordinary” people and not so many rock stars!
  • When you want to help by sharing, don’t just RT or ‘share’; this requires a special gesture. Explain why you’re sharing, offer a personal reason why others should pay attention to it. This is the fun part, you can’t do this truthfully if you don’t read or pay attention to what you share. This is what leaves many “influencers” out of the game.
  • Use LinkedIn to recommend those service providers, workers, employees or entrepreneurs with whom you’ve had a satisfactory professional transaction or interaction.
  • Create an eBook about the people who help you in your day, month and year; publish it as a blog, on Twitter or other places. And please, keep it free of charge; getting to know these people should be a right, not a privilege.

Self-absorbed or change?

One more thing before we finish: there’s a good number of ideas to make the most of your influence to favour others in a positive way.

So, as you can see, there are myriad ways to do it. What we’re sometimes lacking is intention and purpose in using influence as a way to funnel change and not as a resource for personal gain, becoming increasingly self-absorbed. Being that kind of influencer is clearly overrated.

I’d love you to share with us any ideas that come to mind to make the most of online influence, helping to make a difference in other people. Thank you.

Photo credit: Stuart Foster.

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Thoughts and ideas on contents that leave a mark

I often think about how what I do has an impact on people, not only personally but professionally also. In this regard, I believe that creating content is of crucial importance, as is what happens before, during and after the creation, launch and impact processes.

content marketing

Random thoughts and ideas on content creation

I will share with you some random thoughts and ideas regarding the creation of contents that leave a mark:

  • What is your content-creation strategy? – I don’t know what content-creation strategy you follow, if any, but there’s always something you can do to improve the quality of your content so that it is more in line with your community and more useful to your audience. Idea: You could perhaps focus on one type of content and not post with regard to different topics. I’m talking about information that is more in line with your public.
  • How do you know whether your actions are connecting and having an impact? Do they really change? – The actions you carry out have an impact on people (the community) and the way you impact and connect will determine the success or failure of your strategy and the coherence of your brand. In any case, if what you do takes you exactly where you want to go, then that’s OK. Otherwise, you’ll have to ask yourself, “What are we not doing so well? How can we improve?” Idea: start by connecting; then connect repeatedly until you manage to grab the attention needed to earn your audience’s trust; a trust that will turn your audience into clients.
  • Strategy: try something different – My favourite strategy isn’t being visible. But as I said, if it works for you, that’s OK. There’s always time to change anyway. The key lies in trying to be different. The idea of diversifying contents is excellent. However, perhaps it will work better if your contents are more in line with the audience you’re targeting. To this end, choose a mission for yourself, rather than a plan; the mission is always there where plans or strategies fail. Idea: start by being there always, providing contents that make a contribution, help and are useful to others. Remain “everywhere”: create ways of being present always, adding value. Position yourself where your audience’s radar is looking.
  • What comes after content? – The next step after content is interaction. Anything positive that you do will be a great move. – Idea: Answering and clarifying is key. Constant, continued, progressive and human communication with your community is an essential element that works towards the solidity and consolidation of your brand.
  • Objective: being extremely useful  – Your content should first of all focus on how useful it is to the receiver: you should try for ‘actionable usefulness in a single idea’, whenever possible; such an idea should be able to move your audience, from reading to doing. Make the most of your knowledge and experience on how you do what you do: tips that make a difference. We must be extremely useful, that’s the aim. Inspiration will then come of its own accord. Idea: look at what you do best, something that only a few do as well as you do. That is what you must share as useful content. That is what will change your audience.

Photo credit: ctwmarketing.

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