Brenda Peterson
Brenda Peterson

10 Key Metrics Every Business Should Look Out For

Just like you can’t drive a car blindfolded, you can’t do business without paying attention to the numbers. Otherwise, you’re doomed to crash — in both situations. How much revenue does your company earn? What’s your growth rate? How much you spend on developing your products and marketing them? These and more questions need to be answered so that you can effectively measure your financial performance, track achievements, control expenses, balance the failures, and prevent disasters.

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Brenda Peterson
Brenda Peterson

How to Use Limited Time Offers to Boost Sales

How often did you catch yourself thinking: “I would probably not have bought this if not for that special deal”? I bet pretty often. I know I did! Let’s face it, it feels like they take it from you unless you grab the chance to snag that t-shirt half-price, even if deep inside you realize that the offer is nothing but a marketing trick. And you really can’t be blamed for that. No one wants to miss out on an opportunity to have something for a reduced price or that comes with a cool bonus. In marketing psychology, this is called “fear of missing out,” abbreviated as “FOMO.”

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Brenda Peterson
Brenda Peterson

The Best Lead Generation Tools to Boost Your Business in 2019

One of the essential stages of any ​​marketing strategy is lead generation. We all know that leads are the key to sales. Leads are contacts that allow businesses to reach their customers and involve them in any form of interaction that would potentially result in a conversion.

You can obtain leads by encouraging prospects to perform specific actions on your business website: sign up, make a phone call, subscribe for a newsletter, fill out an online registration form, order a product or service, etc. The more leads you generate, the more potential conversions you can expect.

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Brenda Peterson
Brenda Peterson

5 Ways to Monetize Social Media and Be Rewarded with Real Revenues

Social media monetization isn’t just a vague concept only large brands can benefit from. In fact, social media as we know it is steadily turning into a tremendous commercial machine offering business opportunities for all who are ready to put some time and effort into it.

The truth is, 58% of adults prefer to follow brands on social media while 96% of small businesses actively use various social media platforms for marketing purposes. This means most people are okay with the commercial direction social media is taking (and even welcome it), and entrepreneurs don’t hesitate to take the chances to expand their customer base.

So why should you stand on the sidelines while so many people are effectively making money on social media? Consider the following ways to monetize your social media accounts.

  1. Use social media to sell products

This is the most obvious way of making money with the help of social media. However, it doesn’t mean it is the easiest one. Many people who come to social networks to promote their business eventually fail, thinking that their success depends solely on posting new offers and running ads.

Despite the misconceptions, selling on social media is a much more intricate process based on finding the right balance between keeping your audience engaged and directly promoting your brand.

No matter how brilliant your calls-to-action are, it is highly unlikely that your social media followers will convert into loyal customers simply because your product is out there for show.

To sell on social media effectively, you need to build enough engagement, capture users with interesting and memorable content. People are much more inclined to buy from brands that consistently engage with them. We rarely trust anybody who just shows up all of a sudden with a desperate attempt to peddle stuff, no matter how great it actually is.

On the other hand, keeping your audience closer to your brand, communicating with the prospects, answering their questions, knowing their concerns and trying to offer relevant solutions is the right strategy to build long-term relationships that will eventually bolster your credibility and customers’ trust. This kind of tactics usually translates well into successful sales.

However, it doesn’t cancel the importance of including ads in your marketing strategy. The key to effective sales on social media lies in making use of both organic and paid traffic.

What’s the best platform for selling your products? It mostly depends on your niche. Facebook is the most popular social platform in the world, so you’ll want to explore it anyway to reach out to as many people as possible. What is more, Facebook allows you to set up a “Shop Now” button, so your clients can make purchases very conveniently.

Instagram is great for everything that looks good on photos. If you create powerful visual content, and your target audience is mostly comprised of young people, Instagram is your best bet. However, to bring people to your online store, you will have to put some effort into enticing them to click through to your bio where clickable links are allowed. Besides, you can benefit from the feature called “Shoppable Posts”.

Pinterest, in its turn, attracts a lot of middle-aged women and is also an image-heavy platform; LinkedIn is perfect for professionals and career enthusiasts; Google+ is worth considering if you’re in the B2B segment.

The choice is entirely yours. Make a quality research of your target audience, study your competitors, and dive in!

  1. Share valuable content

Whether you sell anything or just promote your website or blog, useful and engaging content can bring you generous dividends if distributed through the right social channels.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Share useful articles and blog posts: Do you know what your audience is concerned with, what problems they face? If you do, why not write about it, offer your solutions and tips? Text-based content can be easily shared on almost every social network, creating engagement and taking new visitors to your website.
  • Show off memorable images: Make some great photos, upload vivid images to impress your audience, share useful infographics, etc. Platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are perfect for sharing visuals and can increase your website traffic, as well as boost your sales.
  • Make quality videos: Video content is predicted to account for 80% of all internet traffic by 2019. This opens endless opportunities for video marketing and allows you to make money on platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, etc. Video content is also known to be highly shareable on popular social networks including Facebook and Instagram. This is a chance for you to draw more attention to your brand.

Whatever you choose to prioritize, make sure it can help your business grow. Social media is there to ensure that your message reaches the masses. This is why social accounts are so persistently used by brands as free outlets for engaging content.

  1. Generate leads

Social networking is all about making new connections. For this reason, social media is considered to be one of the best tools for generating leads. Not only are the new contacts vital for promoting your brand on social platforms, they can also be effectively used for your email marketing endeavors.

Theoretically, all your followers on social media can be considered as potential customers. However, their existence alone can’t ensure sales. This makes the lead generation only the first step toward the conversion. Once you have a new contact, you have to work hard to lead your prospect all the way through the sales funnel. But accumulating leads is where you start. This makes it so important.

To generate leads more efficiently, offer your audience something in return for sharing their contact details and following you. Discounts and valuable pieces of content like free ebooks, articles, white papers, etc. usually make wonders when it comes to encouraging prospects to leave their credentials.

  1. Affiliate with brands

Affiliate marketing is a relatively easy way to monetize your social media accounts if your following is large enough to entice brands. Some companies out there would be happy to have access to your audience and wouldn’t mind paying handsomely for getting the exposure through your social accounts.

The idea behind this strategy is very simple: you make posts featuring the brands you’re affiliating with and get a percentage of the sales (given your audience makes any purchases). Reviewing products is one of the best ways to get a product in front of your followers without making your posts look like an advertisement.

However, make sure the products you promote are in line with your own lifestyle and image. Try to avoid marketing goods you don’t feel good about. Otherwise, you are risking to lose the credibility among your followers.

To find brands you’d like to collaborate with, check out the services like Rakuten Linkshare, Clickbank, ShareASale, etc.

  1. Monetize with Ning

When it comes to social media monetization, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other popular platforms are not the only destination. Whenever you decide to start your own personalized social network on Ning, countless monetization opportunities ensue.

The good news is, you don’t necessarily need to have physical products for sale to ensure high revenues. Instead, you can sell your content – your knowledge and expertise. Offer your network members a paid access to your premium content or set up a paid membership to monetize the whole website. You can even collect voluntary donations from users who’d like to contribute to the development of your online community.

The bottom line is, you are free to build a social network based on any topic or idea that strikes your fancy – and earn money for sharing interesting content with people who join you along the way.

Start earning money for your social media presence

Social media is no longer confined to serving the purpose of online communication only. Social networks have turned into full-fledged marketplaces offering numerous business opportunities to enterprising individuals. If you reckon yourself among them, the monetization options reviewed in this post will help you to get started.

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When you believe in your cause, there’s nothing to hinder your success: a story of a network that made it right

In the light of Ning’s e-commerce platform release, we decided to share an inspiring story of success. We hope that it could motivate our network creators to aspire for greater achievements with their community building efforts. If you have been nurturing an idea of monetizing your network but still have doubts whether it is worth a try, then this story is for you!

Ning has seen a plenty of networks centered around many different topics. All of them are unique and have remarkable stories behind them. However, there’s one that surprised us from the very start. The network that managed to take the best of Ning and turn it into a well functioning mechanism. The network that allows its creator to manage a huge community of devoted members, attract more followers every day, and effectively generate income at the same time. Isn’t that a dream of any network creator?

Who’s in the spotlight today?

Her name is Heidi St.John. She’s not only a professional mom who has raised seven beautiful children. She is also a successful writer, blogger, life coach, author of popular podcast series. And, most importantly, creator of an outstanding online network with a resolute name – MomStrong International.

The MomStrong network was started as an attempt to unite mothers who wish to raise their children with a Biblical worldview. Heidi’s initial idea was to help women around the globe find answers to the most disturbing questions they are facing in the world full of misunderstanding, confusion, cruelty, and indifference. By sharing her own experience as a mother and attempting to aid younger moms in seeking truth through their belief, Heidi is seeking to make it easier for women to handle their daily duties. And eventually bring up a healthy generation with strong moral values.

As it turned out, there are thousands of mothers out there seeking guidance. Now Heidi is trying to help as many of them as possible – and to do it more efficiently, she chose Ning!

How it all came together

Heidi has been writing and coaching for over 10 years prior to creating her online community on Ning. She has published several books and released podcasts that had massive success (35k downloads per episode!). Heidi has been building her audience for quite a long time. So making a social network that could gather all her followers under one roof was a no – brainer.

Heidi’s husband is a programmer and web developer. However, due to the tight schedule, he couldn’t afford to spend too much time to create a network from scratch. That’s why he had to figure out another solution for his wife. He browsed several popular community building platforms available on the market and eventually arrived at the decision that Ning had the most robust offering to fit Heidi’s needs perfectly. That’s how MomStrong met Ning!

What made Ning a perfect bet for MomStrong

From the very outset, Heidi had a very clear idea of what her social network should look like and what functions it has to perform. With her requirements as a reference point, Heidi’s husband was looking for a community builder with features including Forums, Paywalls, and simple interface.

Forums enabled Heidi to promote discussions and encourage communication within her community. Thanks to this feature, she can always keep in touch with her network members, answer their questions as soon as possible, offer advice, and broach issues that are relevant to her audience. Besides, Heidi came up with a smart idea to use closed groups on the forum to implement paid video content. This is one of the ways how she monetized her network by offering paid access to her premium content.

The possibility to set up paywalls enabled Heidi to introduce a paid membership on her network. Paid members get access to all content on the website and can use the whole range of its special features. For example, they get an opportunity to chat with Heidi in person and participate in cooperative challenges. Like the one called a Scripture Writing Challenge which became increasingly popular among the network members. In this way, Heidi can offer the best of her knowledge and expertise to those who don’t mind to contribute a modest amount to support her cause.

And, the last but not least, Ning’s simple interface allowed Heidi to design and launch her own online community with her small staff, facing no need to hire a specialist. And we have to admit, MomStrong International does look great, having a feminine and welcoming feel to it! Heidi chose the same color scheme and overall design as employed for her newest book. That really helped the website to maintain the image associated with Heidi and what she does.

Plans for the future

In the future, Heidi is planning to grow her network, engage more people, and go on with her monetization efforts. She is highly interested in introducing Ning’s Member Ranking System to let users acquire different statuses and achievements for the points they earn participating in various activities, like the Scripture Writing Challenge.

Additionally, Heidi is going to explore the newest feature from Ning – the Donations. She believes it can enhance the profitability of her network and help it grow faster.

There’s still much work ahead to make MomStrong International even better, but Heidi is as optimistic as ever. She’s ready to take up any challenge, looking forward excitedly to what future holds for her and her network.

Amazing how ingeniously network creators use the potential of the Ning platform to achieve their goals. Heidi’s example is remarkable, no doubt. But there are more networks out there that made it right and are now very successful. If you have an interesting idea you’re passionate about and use all of the possibilities at hand, there’s nothing to prevent you from building an online community. And make it as successful as MomStrong International.

Also, if you’re a mom and interested in joining the women at MomStrong International, it’s open for anyone, so head on over and check it out!

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Brenda Peterson
Brenda Peterson

How to Make a Successful Youtube Channel in 8 Steps

Being a hugely popular video sharing platform, YouTube is the world’s 2nd largest search engine after Google, engaging more than one billion users! If you study YouTube’s statistics closer, you’ll find out that it offers endless opportunities for businesses and individuals to step into the spotlight.

You’ve probably heard stories of people who became popular for posting videos on YouTube. Just like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media, YouTube has nurtured a whole bunch of celebrities for whom sharing video content has turned from a way of self-expression into a profession. Indeed, YouTube has a fascinating record of self-made millionaires who managed to acquire a huge army of followers.

Businesses also steadily realize YouTube’s potential in expanding the public reach and boosting sales, starting to employ highly elaborate techniques to integrate video content marketing into their promotion strategies.

But why exactly is it worth investing time and efforts into YouTube anyway?

Reasons for Starting a YouTube Channel

If creating a YouTube channel is something you’ve been contemplating for a long time but had doubts whether it is even worth your while, consider the following benefits:

  1. Access to the huge audience
    YouTube is visited by approximately 30 million people every single day! Whether you are a businessman or blogger, you just can’t afford yourself losing a chance to reach out to so many potential customers, followers, etc.
  2. Another way to enrich your content
    If you’ve been dealing with internet marketing for some time, you know how important it is to create a lot of content to get visible. YouTube gives you an opportunity to provide more content for your customers and strengthen your presence on the web.
    Moreover, video content, in particular, is incredibly trendy nowadays. It creates lots of engagement, helps to keep the audience interested, and doesn’t become obsolete as fast as, for example, posts on social media.
  3. Reputation and image building
    Quality videos have a lot of potential when it comes to establishing your brand’s image and building a reputation. If the video content you make resonates with the audience and creates a special emotional attachment, the trust to your brand becomes stronger and your relationships with customers get more personal and intimate.
  4. Increase of website traffic and conversion rate
    Inserting links in videos and their descriptions, you can redirect users to your own website. What is more, since YouTube belongs to Google, your successful video content has a chance to be ranked among general search results which can considerably improve your visibility on the web.
  5. Extra revenue
    You can earn money on YouTube through ads or by making paid videos and posting them on your personal website. For example, if your site is built on Ning, you can upload your videos to YouTube, post them on your website, and set up a paid access.
  6. Creative outlet
    If you’re not starting a YouTube channel for commercial goals, you might be interested in expressing yourself creatively. In your videos, you can share knowledge and experience, show off your skills, and try to impart them to others. There are many people out there who might appreciate your talents!

Whether you are starting a YouTube channel for your own business or creative self-expression, there are lots of advantages to enjoy if you do things right.

How to Make Your YouTube Channel a Success

So if the arguments presented above make sense to you, it’s time to know what exactly you should do to create a popular channel on YouTube.

Further in this article, we will review several steps that will hopefully lead you to success and explain how to make money with YouTube. However, be prepared for an exhausting journey because making a popular YouTube channel is far from being a walk in the park. But if you have a clear idea about your goals, creativity required to come up with interesting content, and determination to move forward despite occasional hurdles, you have high chances to become another YouTube star or effectively boost your business – depending on the goals you pursue.

Step 1. Defining your strategy

Before you start a YouTube channel, you should clearly determine your goals and strategy. Without a clear vision, it will be much harder to make any further progress: you will face difficulties with creating appropriate content, use wrong methods of promotion, and target wrong audience.

It will be easier to figure out your priorities if you ask yourself few questions:

  • What do you need a YouTube channel for?
  • What kind of videos are you going to make?
  • What will your videos be about?
  • What is the niche you are targeting?
  • What audience do you want to engage?
  • Are there many competitors on YouTube who do something similar to what you are going to do?
  • How often can you release new videos?
  • How are you going to shoot your videos?
  • How much time do you have available to invest in YouTube?
  • How do you define your success?

With these questions answered, you will have a better idea of what your further actions should be.

Step 2. Understanding your audience

YouTube is visited by all kinds of audience. People with various backgrounds and interests use it to search for the solutions to the problems they are facing. But in this diversity, you can’t afford yourself targeting each and every YouTube user simply because it is impossible to cater for everybody’s needs.

But what you can do is determine the audience you are going to work for and tailor the content specifically to their preferences. First, choose the niche in which your contribution will be most useful. Then, try to narrow it down as much as you can. To grasp the attention of your first couple of hundreds of viewers, it is more productive to target the audience with very specific interests. Further on, you will be able to steadily expand your area of expertise and engage a wider audience.

To begin with, build your ideal viewer persona, roughly determining the gender, age, interests, social status, and welfare of your potential subscribers. With that done, it will be much easier for you to decide what content to deliver, how to plan your further marketing strategies, and what communication mode to employ.

It might be also helpful to conduct a couple of surveys among the most typical representatives of your target audience to learn their preferences.

Step 3. Creating your brand

As soon as you make your mind about your goals and audience, it’s time to finally create a YouTube channel. And the first thing you’ll have to take care of is creating your brand.

If you want to get noticed, you have to stand out – the competition on YouTube is fierce. This is exactly why you need your personal brand that will be easily recognizable and memorable. Make sure viewers can immediately identify your video among all others.

There are few things to consider while building your brand:

  • Brand name (the name of your channel): it should be unique, recognizable, and catchy; at the same time, it has to convey the main idea of your video content and offer enough information for users to understand what they can expect to see on your channel. If you are planning to use YouTube to promote the brand that already exists, you can just take the name of your company or trademark.
  • Brand logo: make your logo visually appealing and pleasant to look at. It should be memorable enough to leave an imprint in viewers’ minds for a long time. A quality logo will make your brand look professional and trustworthy. Again, if you are aiming at promoting an existing brand, simply use its logo on YouTube.
  • Brand voice: if you’re seeking to engage YouTube’s audience and come up with frequent uploads, you have to be ready to reply viewers’ comments in the appropriate way. Different kinds of audience require different approaches when it comes to communication. The ways you engage in discussions with professional marketers and beauty vloggers, for instance, would be totally different. Therefore, you have to develop the style of communication that will suit your topic and target audience.
  • Brand thumbnails: this one is optional, but your trademark style for thumbnails can make your videos recognizable. Moreover, a well-made thumbnail increases the chances for your video to be noticed. The easiest way to differentiate your video in the list of search results is by putting your logo or captions in a special font style on a thumbnail image. As soon as you become a bit more popular and recognizable, you can start using thumbnails featuring your own face.

When you figure out what your brand image should be like, stick to your initial idea and try to be consistent with it. Find your own “thing” and don’t stray too far away from your concept or topic.

Step 4. Preparing a plan

If you want YouTube to help you achieve commercial or marketing goals, you should be prepared to release new videos on the regular basis. Unless you don’t provide subscribers with something that whets their appetite for new content every now and again, they will quickly forget your channel. Moreover, if you release something interesting regularly, viewers get used to watching your videos at the given time of the day, week, etc., and you steadily become a part of their lives.

To meet the expectations of your audience, it is recommended to prepare a plan or schedule of content you are going to release in the future. It will allow you to meet your deadlines more efficiently and avoid situations when you’re stuck with no fresh ideas in your sleeve.

Step 5. Making quality videos

The first thing that can turn people away from your videos is a bad quality. No matter how informative and engaging your video is, if a viewer cannot clearly discern what is going on on the screen, your video will be skipped immediately. If you don’t want to lose your potential subscribers at the outset, make sure your videos meet the highest quality standards.

Pay attention to things like:

  • Video resolution: make your videos in the highest resolution possible. Full HD or 4K will do perfectly.
  • Focus: keep objects (or yourself) in focus while shooting videos. There’s nothing more off-putting than a blurry and soapy mess on the screen.
  • Lighting: make sure the objects you are filming are well illuminated. The light must come from the right sources and at the proper angle. Insufficient lighting can seriously affect the quality of your video.
  • Background: this point is especially important for vloggers. A perfect backdrop is pleasant to look at, yet not distracting.
  • Sound: audio aspect matters as much as the picture quality. Unless you’re making silent movies, you should take a good care of the sound of your videos. Make sure your voice is being well heard. If you’re using a background music, adjust its loudness so that it doesn’t interfere with your voice.

In short, make sure your videos look professional. Otherwise, you won’t be able to convince viewers of your authority and credibility. That’s why it is worth investing in a decent equipment like a powerful camera, lighting, backdrops, etc. early on. And don’t forget about editing software!

However, “quality” is not only how your video is made, but also what it is about and how useful it is. Consider a few tips to make your videos a success:

  • Focus on the value of your videos, instead of the profits you can elicit. If your video is truly good, the profits will come.
  • Make your videos concise. People rarely spend a lot of time watching videos on YouTube. For the most part, they want to get valuable information as soon as possible. So try not to beat around the bush and deliver your viewers what they come for. Experiment with videos of different length and see what works best for your audience.
  • Combine usefulness with entertainment. This is a perfect formula that will make your videos popular. Finding answers to your questions and having fun in the process – isn’t that a perfect combination?
  • Find ways to embed your products or services in your videos without deteriorating their value. This will increase your chances to convert viewers into buyers.

Step 6. Improving your SEO

Having a bunch of cool videos is great, but what’s the point if nobody can find them? That’s why you need to make your video content searchable. YouTube lets you supply videos with meta tags which enable other users to find them not only on YouTube but also on major search engines:

  • Title – a name of your video. It should be concise, yet informative. Try to explain what the video is about in a few words. The title is the first thing viewers pay attention to while choosing a video from the list of search results. That’s why it is important to make your title appealing and intriguing. And don’t forget to insert a couple of relevant keywords to make it more searchable.
  • Description – a text that offers more details about the video. Use descriptions to introduce viewers to the context of your video and drop in a keyword or two. The description is also great for leaving a link to your website. If you affiliate with other brands, you can provide links to their websites too.
  • Tags – these are basically keywords applicable to your video. Provide a whole bunch of them and don’t target only the shortest and most frequent ones. Longer, more specific keywords can sometimes make it easier for your video to come to the surface.

Step 7. Engaging in communication

Running a successful YouTube channel implies not only making good videos but also keeping in touch with your viewers and subscribers. People will want to comment on your videos, ask questions, and actively interact with you. And they will expect you to react properly.

You will do just fine if you act respectfully, do your best to answer most of the questions asked, and let all of your viewers participate in the discussion on equal terms. Don’t reply to trolls, even if their comments make no sense. However, learn to discern trolling from sound criticism as the latter is a valuable source of feedback you can use to improve your content.

The style of your communication will determine your brand’s voice and how people perceive it. This has a direct influence on your brand’s image and, consequently, your sales.

Step 8. Promotion

There are many ways to promote your YouTube channel and get more views. Here are some of them:

  • Asking people to subscribe, like and share your videos
    YouTube ranks videos according to several parameters: overall amount of views, rating (thumbs up and down), number of subscribers, number of social shares, and the overall amount of comments. What’s the easiest way to get these? Well, nobody said you can’t ask for them. Do it at the end of your video and think of the ways to motivate people to support you!
  • Introducing end cards
    End cards are interactive call-to-action blocks that show up at the end of YouTube videos and encourage viewers to subscribe, check other videos, visit a website, etc. You can effectively utilize them to get more subscribers, increase traffic to your website, and promote your products.
  • Using annotations
    Annotations are brief text messages or links that appear as overlays in YouTube videos, prompting viewers to subscribe or watch some other stuff. You can use them to your advantage, but make sure you don’t overload your videos with obtrusive and irritating pop-ups.
  • Employing other social media.
    Don’t lose an opportunity to promote your YouTube channel on social media like Facebook, Twitter and others. Through the network of social connections, your video content can reach more people than you could ever imagine. If you have a blog, create a blog post elaborating on your recent video and embed it right in the text. If you have a Ning network, you can integrate all of these options into one solution and promote your YouTube channel across your online community.
  • Cooperating with other YouTubers
    To expand your reach even further, consider contacting other people who make videos on similar topics and share the same audience. You can help each other with promotion by giving reciprocal shoutouts or even create videos together at some point.

Having a successful channel on YouTube is great both for your business and personal development. But creating it and making popular is not easy. This undertaking requires time, patience, and determination. Unfortunately, there’s no specific formula for success because it mostly depends on the competition in your niche, as well as your content, creativity, and of course, luck.

Nevertheless, following the tips offered in this article, you will have higher chances to succeed. Just remember the main rule: focus on the quality of your content first and be passionate about what you do. If you only care about profits, viewers will sense the dishonesty and abandon you. But if your enthusiasm is passed on to them through your videos, your YouTube channel can become anything you want it to be.

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