Social Follow Community Blog

Social Follow allows you to have all of your social networks featured in one button which can easily be implemented into your websites, blogs and/or social sites. The Social Follow Blog will keep you up-to-date on new additions to our service and give answers to questions we get on Social Follow. Feel free to write back to us through the blog as well as this really is a community development project.

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May 23rd, 2012

Adjusting Your Social Media For Facebook’s Business Timelines

facebook fan page timeline strategyThe current complaint around the water cooler in most social media marketers cube is the change of Facebook book fan pages to the infamous and not quite so popular Timeline.  On a personal page, the Timeline is a great way to organize your life events and really just create your own story, but for businesses, the movement from traditional “like-gated” fan pages to the Timeline format has lowered conversion rates, changed the game of getting liked and really altered the success rates of yesterday’s social media marketing strategy.

Never fear, all hope is not lost.  Just as was true for personal Timeline newbies, once you get used to your fan page Timeline and learn how to use it to improve on your social media marketing, you’ll be fine with the change and getting liked again.  While Facebook did provide a not-so-intuitive roadmap for new users, it was obviously not packed with tips on how to use the new Timeline to best market your brand.  There are many assets to the new Timeline that you should take advantage of and there are just  many work-arounds for those old tactics that worked well, but were discarded in the change.

First step to maximizing your social media marketing efforts in Timeline is to start working on a series of cover photos.  Cover photos are the new large image at the top of your Timeline.  There are guidelines set for these cover photos that include no call to actions, no contact info and no more obnoxious arrows pointing to your like and share buttons.  That being said, this is still an awesome size space.  Use it! The trick here is to change your cover photo regularly.  Each time you change your cover photo (at a minimum of once per month), it goes on your wall.  Extra tip, hide that wall activity after you change photos and then post your new cover as a post on your wall with a great textual post message that includes a solid call to action.  There is also the issue of your profile image.  Brand it.  This is the image that accompanies every one of your posts.  Make sure it is recognizable and the best representation of your brand.

What was lost in the change to fan page Timelines was the default landing page and home of the “like-gates” that built huge facebook fan pages of the past.  Obviously, Facebook wants you to run ads and use their Reach Generator to get likes, they make cash that way, but there is a small work around that you can use to continue to supplement the like train into your fan page.  All of the apps used with Facebook still have their own url.  This means that the app you used to create your default landing page is still out there and it has its own url and people could still land there.  The solution here is to start using links to this page in all your links.  Rather than send people to your regular fan page Timeline, send them to the url of the “like-gate”.  You can reset the links on your website, in your future posts and on your other social media profiles.

Speaking of apps, make sure you set your first three apps that appear below your cover image to those that will be of the most benefit to your business.  Photos don’t move, but the rest can be arranged and you can even add your own thumbnail image to really create a well branded space on your timeline.  Offers, Newsletter Signups, Shop Now apps can all become highly effective call to actions when you add your own image to make them look more like buttons.

After the looks are taken care of, then start organizing your fan page Timeline to highlight your journey as a business.  Assign dates and times to photos and create a visual map for fans of your brand to follow your journey to success.  Be sure to use the highlight and pinning to the top functions when you add new content and always remember that the images on the new Timeline are huge.  Use those as highlights and create a photo album for fans of your brand to enjoy and feel connected with your business.

Those are just a few of the tips to Timeline success with social media marketing.  Facebook is pushing businesses to pay for advertising and you just have to change your plan to utilize what free space they still give you.  Go now and change the link in your Social Follow profile to your “like-gate” url.  Yes, even with changes in our favorite social media networks, the free social media button from Social Follow is still and effective tool for building your social identity.

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March 11th, 2012

Wondering Where to Focus Your Social Energy?

social focusSocial networking and social sharing have become full time positions in businesses across the land as more and more industries realize that the way to succeed is to connect with the people of the world. Large corporations have the money to hire individuals to oversee, manage and interact on every social network in the park, but small businesses are small businesses because of their ability to survive with a certain number of employees and usually, a social media manager isn’t on the payroll.  With limited resources and limited time, small and medium business owners need to know where to focus their social energy for the most reach for their time. 

While you could set out to conquer all social networks, you will likely find yourself strapped for time.  There are just too many social circles to participate in and once you factor in the time you need to be a true participant on those networks, you will soon realize that it’s better to put your eggs in a few social baskets rather than trying to spread yourself too thin.  There are some networks that are just plain worth your time more than others.

Without a doubt you knew I was going to mention Facebook and Twitter.  These two social giants have had the market cornered for some time and their popularity has not wavered.  Facebook has over 850 million users and Twitter has over 200 million users.  For obvious reasons these are two great places to start building your social status.  Remember to be real, post often and answer comments and tweets promptly. 

Right behind Facebook and Twitter you’ll find two newer social networks.  These are Pinterest and Google+.  While Google+ may seem like an empty classroom it does play an important role in Google search results and maintaining a personal or business identity is definitely in your best interest.  Pinterest gained almost instant popularity because of its extremely simple usability.  In a short time it has gained close to 10 million users.  Be sure to pin helpful and informative information to attract followers in this network. 

The next sites that are of great importance to be a part of are LinkedIn, Ryze and Ecademy.  These are more of professional networking circles than the more casual encounters found on Facebook and Twitter.  LinkedIn reaches close to 150 million users and with LinkedIn you can participate in groups of people who share the same interests as yourself or your business.  Ecademy has close to 17 million users and allows you to start clubs and connect with like minded businesses.  And while Ryze is not booming with membership it is still a very effective social network to join.

The last suggested site to join is StumbleUpon.  This is a social network that is all about spreading the content love and distributing your content should be the ultimate goal of any social campaign.  There are around 20 million users on StumbleUpon and although it takes a pretty big time investment, the connections and ability to distribute your content are great for your website and your reputation.

As you can see this is not an exhaustive list of social networks.  Once you join these mainstream networks with the greatest reach potential, then you can start to look at smaller niche networks to join and become a part of.  The important thing to remember when going social is to not rush.  Developing quality relationships on social networks is the key to social success.  Wondering how people will know which social network to find you in? Get the free Social Follow button for your website.  You can link to all your social profiles from one nifty and clean button.

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February 8th, 2012

Improving Your Potential Reach with Social Media Marketing

We stress all the time the importance of social media marketing for building your brand and delivering your news, products and services to your adoring fans, but social media can actually underperform in some situations especially as your network grows.  It is times like these when you can fall back on your tried and true email marketing to go where social media marketing didn’t quite get.

You are likely thinking, “What do you mean? Social media is all the rage and it is the BEST way to market my business” and yes, this is what we are usually telling you in our posts.  Honestly, that really hasn’t changed.  Facebook and Twitter are still your best avenues for reaching new and untapped potential customer resources, but just getting them to fan your page or connect on twitter isn’t going to get them thoroughly engaged.

Just consider for a moment the sheer volume of tweets daily on Twitter.  The possibility of that new subscriber to your tweets actually reading your tweets is a shot in the dark.  Sure you could send direct messages to all your peeps, but that will likely lead to a mass decrease in your followers thanks to your new found spammy nature.  Same lies true for Facebook who uses their infamous EdgeRank algorithm that can literally prevent your posts from ever appearing on your fan’s page.  With Facebook as well you have to consider the large portion of its user base that is still trying to figure out how to use their service and see more than just highlighted news or they are still trying to put their lives in a timeline. So, it is important to include another step in your social media endeavors that ensures a direct access point to your new found friends and that is through email marketing.

In order to connect your email marketing and social network marketing campaigns you’ll still need to attract more fans and followers.  As always we suggest developing some killer content that will blow people’s minds and get it out there as a Facebook ad to be liked to through a mass pass around of your existing Facebook fans.  For those who lives are devoid of quality content and meaningful relationships, you could fall back on the old standby of giving a coupon or something away for free.  Either way, continue to build your fan base on Facebook and Twitter.

Once people have liked your page or started to follow you on Twitter, offer a second out of this world piece of content or yes, another decent give away or discount, but ask them to sign up for your email list to receive it.  Add to this the additional rewards for email list referrals and before you know it you will have direct access to more people and still have an impressive social media circle as well.  You can also segment your email sign up lists to best target your email marketing efforts to different subscribers.

Building a huge social following is only part of the social media marketing strategy.  Finding new and better ways to engage your social audience is the real game winner.  One of the best ways to build your network of followers is to let them know where you can be found on the web.  Our free Social Follow Follow Me button does just that without leaving your website looking like a billboard for social networking sites.  Add one button for all your networks!

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January 12th, 2012

Keep Your Social Media Content Flowing in 2012

new years resolution for marketingAnd so it has begun.  Another year in the world of the wide web we call the Internet and while you may be cheating on your personal resolutions, it’s time to set your goals for social marketing in the New Year.  Certainly indulging in that one high calorie drink or irresistible chunk of chocolate and breaking your own vows to change is an event that you can usually counter with an extra trip to the gym, but when your social media marketing plan falls short of your 2012 social marketing resolutions, you may have missed an opportunity to connect that can’t be corrected. 

We talked in a previous post about the value of content in your social media marketing campaign and moving into the New Year the value of content has only grown more.  With search engine indexing changes the power of author authority and the credibility, share-ability and readability of the content you send out into the cyber world relates directly to your online success or failure.  For this reason, this year, you should add one more step to your social media marketing resolution for 2012 and resolve to plan out your Social Media Content for the whole year.

Now don’t go into a tizzy.  This isn’t to say that you should plan out every word you intend to share right here and now.  We all know that world events, personal challenges and the unstop-ability of the ever changing world around us will always lead to spontaneously insightful content generation, but it is for those moments that are without spectacular elements that you should be prepared in advance to conquer. 

In actuality there are other reasons to plan out your social media content distributions in advance.  Besides providing for consistent posting, planning your content ahead also helps you maintain a cohesive tone and even keeps you in line with your social marketing message.  In effect, planning your content in advance helps to keep your campaign on track.  There is also the appeal of knowing that you’ll have a variety of engaging content planned out for the year. 

Now the content that you supply in your social media marketing should also have some variety and setting out your schedule will help to set the tone for this approach.  Making plans for when to include 3rd party articles and links, when you will create a poll or trivia post, when you plan to add visuals like photos and videos and finally when you intend to share your own blogs, articles and company news will help to create the variety most of us seek in our social.  Another tip for keeping your posts and feeds fresh is to plan to repost items from previous months or years.  Not every post has to be news from today, especially when the things you post aren’t even relevant to your business, industry or neighborhood.

So planning ahead can save you from having a dull social existence this year and even next.  By planning out your social content and always choosing and writing content that is worth sharing you can meet all the goals of your social media marketing resolution and give your business the momentum to achieve social success this year.

No point in sharing your content when no one knows where to find you.  Make it part of your New Year plan to add the free Follow Me button from Social Follow so every visitor can find you on the social network that they hang out on.

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December 18th, 2011

Did Your Social Media Marketing Join in the Holiday Fun?

holiday social networkingIf you are an online retailer, there is no doubt that come the holidays, you barely have time to twitter and post between packing, shipping and hopefully, updating out of stock notices on your website.  However, it isn’t just online retailers that get a traffic boast come the holiday season and every website owner should check to be sure they add a little Holiday spirit to their image, especially their online social networking profiles.

If you haven’t already, you have at least one week left to seasonally brand your logo or online profile image.  That’s right people, break out the elf hats and fire up the menorah and get a holiday image out on the web that still allows your branding to shine, but keeps a hint of holiday cheer behind your imagery.   It is not just about your profile image either.  On Facebook, you can update your photo strip with pictures from the office holiday party or the decorations found in your neighborhood and you can change your twitter background to be one that adds just a bit more festivity to your visitor’s day.

One major gaffe of the holiday social media marketing season is the overly self-promotional posts.  This is a big problem with ecommerce stores.  You have to keep the good content rolling even during the holidays.  If all you are tweeting and posting are reminders and links to your sales and promotions people are going to get the feeling you are as greedy as Mr. Scrooge.  If you can’t think of something good to write, ponder some of the biggest challenges of the holiday season and how you can help your readers, fans and friends overcome them.  Tips on shopping on a budget and when a gift card is the best possible gift for the hard to gift person are great ways to show your loyal customers that you care more about them than about your bottom line.  It is the holiday season after all.

One really funny thing to note about the winter holidays is the weather.  Talking about the weather can be seem so cliché, but asking people to send your Florida business pictures of snow is a great way to branch out your social networking circles and getting to enjoy the wonders of a winter wonderland as well.  Or the opposite could be true, if you are trapped in snowy North Dakota for the winter season, perhaps you’d like to see some sandy beaches on first day of winter.  Either way, talking about the weather at a time when the weather everywhere is different, is a great way to expand your circles and reach out to your fan base and demonstrate that you care about what life is like in their world.

Whatever you celebrate and however you celebrate is as important as celebrating the season itself.  This doesn’t mean you have to promote your brand and jump on the corporate band wagon that ruins Charlie Brown’s Christmas more than once.  It just means that you have another opportunity to add a new layer of transparency to your business and share what’s important to your clients during the holiday season.

When it comes to connecting your holiday spirit with those of your fans, people need to know where to find you.  With the free SocialFollow button you can link to all your holiday online networks in one convenient button and visitors can find you on the network they like to share.  Happy Holidays-Eat, Drink and Be Social!

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November 25th, 2011

Giving Thanks Every Day in Your Social Circles

Yesterday, at least here in the U.S., most households were busy cooking and preparing Thanksgiving meals to come together with family and friends and give Thanks for the amazing lives we have all been blessed with.  About one week prior to that, businesses and bloggers across the land began planning their own ways of showing thanks to all their loyal customers, readers and fans.  While Thanksgiving is a great time for saying that elusive Thank You that often gets lost in our online conversations, perhaps it is a good time to reflect on why you should be giving thanks everyday to the people in your social media circles.

Let’s take examples from our Thanksgiving traditions and apply them to our everyday interactions with our online audience.  For starters, try putting your differences aside and remind yourself to be thankful for the ability to tap into the mind of those who may not always agree with you.  Social networking and social media has given everyone a voice.  It has given power back to the spoken and written word and it is the voice of the people that governs in the social world.  Be thankful each day for those that keep us in balance and challenge us to be more transparent, more engaged and more human. 

When gathering with close family and friends for a Thanksgiving celebration, we let down our masks and we are real.  This should carry forward in your everyday interactions in social networks.  Be authentic.  Be who you are at the family dinner table every time your fingers hit the keypad to type a message.  I should picture you in your fluffy bunny slippers if that is what you like to wear when you are writing your blog or compiling your tweet.  Show who you really are and your audience will show you many thanks.

As kids return home from college and daughters wandering the globe find their way back to the smell of turkey and stuffing (or lobster and corn-whatever scent draws you home), parents and relatives shower them in words of praise and interest in what has been happening in the last months or years.  You can use this same approach with your online family by telling them just how awesome they are and how much they have done for you, their community and themselves.  Highlight each follower’s strengths.  Share those stories that inspire you.  Be thankful and praise each day the great worthy and inspiring activities that your online community achieve. 

One final way to bring Thanksgiving Day thanks into your every day social media marketing is to give of yourself without looking for thanks.  That’s right.  Give selflessly to your online community.  Whether you want to give away a service or product or offer an outstanding, unbelievable discount to your faithful followers with a special note that says clearly says Thanks.  Without your social following, you likely wouldn’t have as much to be thankful for yourself. 

Everyone at SocialFollow and Studio98 would like to say Happy Thanksgiving and Thank You to all of our readers, followers and especially our button subscribers who have helped us spread the word about our free Social Follow button and make it a huge success.  Wondering how to stay connected to everyone that visits your website or blog? Add the Social Follow button from Studio98.  With the FollowUs button you can maintain your brand without all the bling.  Your website should be a place for your business, not a banner for social networking circles, the SocialFollow button keeps all your social networks in one pretty little holiday package!

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November 7th, 2011

Social Media Marketing aka Social Media Content Marketing

A lot of people know on some level that they should be using Facebook and Twitter to promote their business website, but just as many of those people have no clue how to promote their business on these mediums.  There is general corporate and small business confusion over the use of social media marketing platforms for business and this confusion needs to be dispelled before you’ll find social media marketing success.

A lot of people start their Twitter and Facebook adventures by posting links to their products and services thinking that this is the best way to get people interested in their business.  Many even search the social networking platforms for people talking about their product, services and brand and contacting them directly with information and links back to their website.  But is this really what your customers are looking for? Were they asking for your feedback on your own brand or were they looking for the opinions of their connections on your business or brand?

In the end, a lot of businesses end up doing more spamming than promoting on social media networks and this is where many of those same businesses start to feel that their social media marketing plan isn’t living up to all the hype.  Where many people are misguided is when they are first told that they should be using social networking platforms to promote their content, but they don’t have a clear understanding of what content they should actually be promoting. 

Content is still the king of the web, but only the most engaging and interesting content rules the kingdom.  The first question you need to ask yourself about your content is if it is a worthwhile read.  Did you provide information that will help someone make a decision or provide them with much needed information or did you spend 500 words of content talking only about your great product or service and what makes it so great and why you priced it as you did? Have all of your posts followed this self-promotional and salesy/spammy trend?

When making a lasting impression and an impression that keeps on impressing for days as it makes it way around the web, you need to have content that goes beyond you and your business.  You need great content that is about your industry, not just your business.  You want to share content that is funny, catching, inspiring, something, anything, but not promotional ALL of the time.  Promotional content does have its place for new product and service announcements and even to share customer success stories or fun and crazy adventures within your business, but the content that will go the distance will be the words that have no promotional value at all.  A true good read. 

Before you invest in someone to manage your social media accounts, consider hiring a good copywriter to make your social media worth managing.  Another great way to build better connections on social networking platforms is to make it easy for your website visitors to find you on the network they are part of.  Show off your social accounts without losing your brand by using the Follow Us button from SocialFollow from Studio98; all your social network connections in one low-key button that doesn’t take away from your website branding.

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October 18th, 2011

The Short and Skinny on Short Urls

short urls for social networkingI realized only recently that a lot of newbie website owners, which actually encompasses a large percentage of total website owners, don’t actually know of or understand the purpose and uses of short urls. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a web novice and to be honest there is so much ever-changing information to know and catalog about maintaining a web presence that it is no wonder most people just jump in the pool naked and blindfolded and hope to find their way to the shallow end with their head above water. Fortunately, the story behind tiny urls or short urls is well, short, so I thought I would take a few minutes to explain how they can not only help in social media marketing, but in building your brand as well (even those are really things of the same, hmmm…).

The first question a lot of website owners ask is why would I want to shorten my urls? This is a totally legit question especially when you consider that your SEO Company probably just got you to switch to all SEF urls to help with organic search ranking and increase your site relevancy. So here is an example of why you might want to shorten a url:
I want to send a client direction to my Studio98 office in Clearwater, FL. Which would be better to send to them?

Example A: http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&sugexp=kjrmc&cp=25&gs_id=u&xhr=t&q=studio+98+clearwater+florida&qscrl=1&nord=1&rlz=1T4GGLL_enUS317US317&biw=1280&bih=479&gs_upl=&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&ion=1&wrapid=tljp1318962472910018&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=N8WdTtHnCqPWiAK1nYiQCg&sa=X&oi=mode_link&ct=mode&cd=3&sqi=2&ved=0CBUQ_AUoAg
Example B:
http://bit.ly/mapstudio98

Most people that receive a link like example A in their inbox are going to hesitate before clicking on it that is if their email client even keeps the link intact. Those who are newbies to the Internet or live in a state of constant virus-phobia are likely going to think it goes to some malware or malicious identity theft site and delete the email all together. Hence Example B is the better option for delivering a big url in a short and sweet way.

Now then, overall length is just one of the reasons, but it is for more than just emails. Consider your posts to social networks. Twitter gives you a limited amount of space so wouldn’t it be better to fill it with a great call to action or interesting traffic driver than to hog it up with a giant http code? Facebook and the other social media platforms without message size restrictions give you plenty of room, but what about the look of those long urls and, even more importantly, what about the branding value and recall of your longer url?

If you are running a contest on Facebook or any social networking site and you have your contest registration set for a particular url, but it is a lengthy url, wouldn’t the word of mouth about your contest be easier to pass if the url was easily recognizable, easy to share and easy to recall? Wouldn’t it be foolish not to use a short url that adds to your branding efforts rather than a long url that could be mistyped and visitors lost? And don’t forget about all the mobile devices being used for social networking today. There is no accounting for speed typing on those tiny keypads and keeping your urls short means less typos and faster accessing for your valuable information.

What about SEO and doesn’t having a short url mess with my organic search ranking? Surprisingly not; if you use Google’s url shortener it actually works as a permanent 301 redirect and Google announced that they would pass the link juice right through on those tiny urls. Google isn’t the only service that you can use to make your big urls short, TinyUrl is the original url shortener and often the most popular because it was the first service picked up and used by most social networking sites. Bit.ly is also a contender of special note as they actually keep analytics on their short urls and are expected to release their own search engine based on the click popularity of short urls. This search engine will be much like Social Media Engine Topsy, but Bit.ly will have a far more detailed algorithm delivering even more accurate and focused search results as well as reputation management for shortened links.

Should you shorten your urls everywhere? Nope. Definitely not. A lot of people still don’t trust short urls. Save tiny urls for when you need to do something about a really big url, otherwise, if it fits, keep it. Well there is no need to worry about the long and short of your urls if they are only on your website. Break out of the long url chain and get on the social bandwagon using short urls to deliver your content to social media sites across the Web. The best way to connect with your followers is with the free Follow Me button from SocialFollow and Studio98-all the network buttons without all the bling; keeping your site about your brand.

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September 19th, 2011

Social Media Marketing-Gotta Love the Numbers!

Nielsen Social Media Report 3Q 2011Really, social media is a total numbers game; isn’t it?  When you think about the measuring system of social media marketing success, it is all numbers.  The number of followers you have.  The number of tweets you’ve made.  The number of retweets you have.  The number of people you are following.   The number of friends you have.  The number of Likes you have received.  How many circles you’ve got going? It is all numbers.

When you look at the analytics side to social media marketing what do you find? NUMBERS! DIGITS! INTEGERS! Number of impressions.  Number of clicks through visits.  Number of conversions.  Sadly, the number of exits.  When it comes to social media marketing, the numbers matter which is why we love numbers and why we love groups like Nielsen who are always giving us more ways to strengthen our sweet love for the digits and the data they provide about the potential success and failure of our marketing endeavors. 

Just last week Nielsen published its Social Media Report for Q3 2011 and the numbers for social media are looking great for marketing success with social networking resting nicely as the number two way we (number lovers and non-number lovers alike) spend time online.  That’s right folks; social networking is the fun, fascinating past time of 4 out of 5 active Internet users in the United States.  What do these numbers mean to you? Well, you shouldn’t need to bust out the calculator to figure this one out, but just in case, we’ll give you the answer: 

You should probably decide if there is a place for your business identity in social media circles and take advantage of this opportunity to reach 80% of the country’s Internet Users.

If you are not sure that social media marketing is right for you, we posted some tips in a previous blog, Social Media Peer Pressure, about deciding if social media is really the right approach for your business.  Now, back to some more numbers.  The recent Nielsen Social Media Report also noted that 53% of active adult social networking users follow a brand (or several brands) as part of their social experience.  Also of note is that the over 55 generation have doubled their intake of social media content and 70% of adult social network users also shop online.  Oh the numbers couldn’t be better!

The numbers never lie! Well, I wouldn’t go that far, but the truth is that more people are finding mobile ways to stay connected with their social networks, which means more people are being social all the time and if you like to watch your numbers change, you should consider a social media marketing campaign and be where the people are…being.  Or perhaps it is time to crunch the numbers on your existing campaign to make improvements. 

A great step for going social is to get your free Follow Us button from SocialFollow.  Even better for the number lovers, the SocialFollow button comes with its own numbers and analytics allowing you to watch your button impressions as they happen.  Take a moment to look at your numbers and then take a moment to read over Nielsen’s report and start looking for better customer centric ways to build your numbers today!

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