Maximize your Email Marketing Potential

How to Grow your Email Marketing List

In recent years, online marketers have shifted their focus to new marketing methods, email marketing being one of them. When you want to put your name out there and be heard, emailing your customers can be a powerful tool, if you use it right.

 

One of your most valuable business assets will be your email marketing list. If you want to grow your revenue and create loyal customers, this is the way to start. And it’s such a simple process! All you need to do in the very beginning is make people sign on. To grow and expand your list takes time, so be patient! It doesn’t happen overnight! You have to keep your focus and keep working at it!  It will pay off as long as you know what you’re doing, or if you know someone who knows what they’re doing. A misstep could harm your brand, so you have to be careful. This is where Conversations comes in. We want to show you how to grow your brand. And we have the technology. We can rebuild it (your brand.)

Here at Conversations.be, we can teach you new tricks, share tips, inspire you, and grow your online presence/brand. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

 

You gotta have Mojo Baby!

Who doesn’t love gifts! Offering gifts to entice people to join your list is a great way to expand your brand! Just asking someone to sign up is a little tacky, and comes off as desperate. But if there is an incentive involved, it doesn’t seem like a one way benefit. You scratch their back, they’ll scratch yours. You need to come up with something that has general, mass appeal. Who doesn’t love Amazon gift cards! Be creative! You are trying to provide these people with a good reason to let you bother them with emails, so make it worth it!

More Cowbell

Don’t misunderstand us, people generally DO want to sign up! They just need a good reason. It is your job to provide them one. After you’ve got them hooked, and have their email in your list, it is your responsibility to not waste their time! They are taking time out of their day to read what you have to say. There is an unspoken trust with email marketing. But we will lay it out for you here, free of charge. Consider it a gift! You provide good stuff and they stick around. If it’s garbage, there is a handy little unsubscribe link at the bottom. Under no circumstances are you to give them any reason to click that link!!!!! You want to expand your reach, not shrink it.

 

You’re gonna need a bigger boat

Never underestimate the power of a good deal. If giving everyone that signs up an actual gift is out of your budget, then offer a discount! Choose your most popular item or service and tell new subscribers they get a percentage off. If this is starting to sound like battle plans, congratulations, you are in the right frame of mind. There are thousands of other businesses out there. They are your competition, and you are “fighting” for your customer’s attention. We can help with that. Consider us your battle strategist!

 

If you build it, they WILL come

What if I told you that literally millions of customers were already assembled, waiting for you to reach out to them? Exciting right!! Guess what?! That’s called Facebook. Twitter. Google+. The masses are already assembled. Nine times out of ten, people are going to check a business’s Facebook page for reviews and additional information. If you don’t have one, then you’re losing out on customers. Our goal is to maximize your audience. We will make it worth your while, we promise.

 

Say. My. Name.

If you’ve ever been to any type of event where someone is marketing themselves, think back to their table. What is one thing that every one of those people had in common? Business cards out the wazoo! Right?! And why? Because for every person that picked one of those cards up, a connection was made. Even if they just read the card, and threw it away! In this day and age, when we are all about technology, business cards may seem old fashioned. We can assure you, they’re not. Take the time to get business cards made, and pass them out when the opportunity arises. You could even print a coupon code on the business card to provide them with another reason to sign up! The possibilities are endless.

 

We want to help you, help yourself. We will coach you. You are not alone. As social media marketing expands, there will be more and more people looking for answers, that are just like you. If anything you learn from us helps you expand your business, then we are glad to have helped. We said earlier that it takes hard work. And that’s true. But maybe, just maybe! We can make your lives a little bit easier.

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Grow Your Email List to 1k (how and why you need to)

A healthy, growing email list keeps new and loyal clients in the loop about your upcoming products, services, webinars, and site launches. If done correctly, these email marketing efforts will impact sales more than any other online efforts – and you’ll spend less time making it happen.

The problem: You need people to actually sign up or “opt in” to your list. The days of uploading random excel spreadsheets of contacts or having your assistant input all of the email addresses from your stack of business cards are long gone.

Firstly, you’ll turn people off who MIGHT have been interested if they feel spammed or marketed to without their permission. Secondly, you are much more likely to get caught in the spam filters of people who DO care about your message if those who don’t are marking you as spam in their inbox settings or unsubscribing at a high rate.

So how do you get people to sign up?

First, you need to offer them something of value – a reason to sign up.

It’s also a good idea to let them know what you’ll be emailing them, and what the frequency of those emails will be. And you want to start with the end goal in mind.

For example: earlier this year, I had a goal of growing an email list from zero to 500 – full of startups and entrepreneurs interested in building a social media strategy. So – I created a 50 page “how to” guide, put an opt in box on the front of my website and set the download link to auto-send to anyone who signed up. The results? An instant 150 signups in the first week and a steady 2 or 3 per day ever since.

But signups weren’t the actual goal – what I wanted was to build up the consulting side of my business, specifically my digital strategy sessions.

Because $375 isn’t just a drop in the bucket for most startups and entrepreneurs, I know that I need to show potential clients the value of working with me. So that’s where the strategy guide comes in. So far, I’ve gone from one strategy session per month to one or two per week.

Brilliant, right?

I’d love to also tell you that I came up with this strategy ALL BY MYSELF, but I actually got this list building tactic (along with several others that I’ve grown niche lists with) from Jenny Shih.

Jenny mastered the art of list building and then created this really fun, super informative course called “Get Your First 1000 Subscribers” that also includes a private facebook group where we all give each other feedback on our opt ins, driving traffic through guest posting, etc. If you’ve got $200 to invest in training like this, I’d highly recommend it. (And if you don’t you can do what I did and split the cost with a friend; that way you each only pay half, but both get access to the training – and bonus: you’ve got someone to talk to about your process).

 

 

 

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Cloud Based Storage Options: Dropbox or Google Drive?

I’ve been evaluating my online toolbox lately – checking into new things, looking at how I use my regular tools and the value I get from them v. what I pay for them.

Cloud based storage is by far one of the most important things I pay for.

Dropbox has to be one of the most valuable tools that I use. Not only is it quick and easy, but it’s cloud based and files are accessible on mobile. BUT – is $10/month v. Google Drive’s FREE similar service worth it? 

Which is easier to use, which offers more space and which is best for you? Read on, homeslice.

How To Earn More Dropbox Space

When you sign up for Dropbox you’re given 2GB of free space, which is great to start, but you should definitely add more space to take full advantage of this application.

You can always acquire space the old fashioned way by purchasing account upgrades, and fortunately smaller monthly Dropbox plans are pretty inexpensive to start.  For example, you can order a Pro monthly plan and pay as little as $10 a month for 100GB of space or you can go all-out and purchase a whopping 1TB worth of space.  A terabyte is exactly 137,438,953,472 bytes.  That’s a lot of space!

The other way you can earn more space is through Dropbox’s referral program, which is a great avenue for startup marketers on a budget.  For every successful referral made, you earn an additional 500MB of space.  Plus, it’s an interesting and effective way to start working on your affiliate marketing skills too!

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Your Flexible Storage Option

Google’s cloud-based storage application, Google Drive, has definitely given Dropbox a run for its money, but it still doesn’t compare in terms of function and flexibility for what I need.

For example unlike Dropbox, all documents in drive are opened in Google Docs, which means you have to go through the extra step of converting your file to .doc if that’s what you prefer.  Plus, Dropbox’s user-friendly sharing options currently eclipses Google’s drive’s more limited sharing capabilities.  If a new client or team member joins a shared folder you created, that folder will instantly sync with their own Dropbox account!

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 10.06.39 AM

You’re also given the option of sharing through simple URLs for your files, providing another edge over Drive.  That’s why Dropbox is still my premiere method for storing and sharing images, since it’s a more universal option and clients don’t need an account to receive and download files.

Another key advantage that Dropbox has over drive is device compatibility.  As of now Dropbox is available for Linux operating systems and Blackberry devices, while Drive has not yet released compatible versions.  And while Drive comes complete with Android tablets and smartphones installed with Google Play, remember that you still have the option of downloading Dropbox too!

sooooooo – which cloud based storage system do you use and why?

 

 

 

 

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2 Essential Tools YOU NEED to Take Control of Your Inbox

Email is an absolute asset. But it’s becoming more and more of a headache and all out mess.

Because more and more vital communication, non-vital marketing and just about everything in between are now arriving to us via email, manually sorting, saving, clearing etc. is a HUGE time suck.

And ain’t nobody got time for that.

So here are the tools I use to keep my inbox in check – so that I can spend more time on day to day stuff like social media management, meeting with clients, and those blessed moments of “nothing to do right now” where I get to take my puppy Roux for a nice long stroll around the neighborhood…

Since I’ve started using these, I save about 2-4 hours/week on email filtering.

Sanebox

Is your inbox about to bust at the seams?  Do you get a sort of sick feeling in your stomach every time you open up your email program?

We’ve all been there:  your email count is over a thousand, some are unread because they are actionable, some are just random marketing newsletters you haven’t read yet but might one day, and some is just outright spam.

That’s where Sanebox comes in. Sanebox is an app that files those emails you don’t need  (but would like to save for later) in its special @sanelater folder.  And if there’s a few emails that you would prefer to never read again, your sanebox plugin can flush it down the @blackhole!

So the only thing that hits your inbox is real messages from real people that are actually important - and you can work with the app over time to train it to know exactly what you care about and exactly what you don’t.

You can try Sanebox for one month free of charge, but it only goes up to $5 a month thereafter. And it’s literally the BEST $5/month I spend, hands down, because it gives me back at least 6 hours/month.

Boomerang

Wouldn’t be nice if we could just schedule our emails in advance?  Wait, we can!  Boomerang is a great little plugin that sends out your emails on a set schedule.  And if you’re a real planner, you can even plan out your emails days, weeks or months in advance!

This really helps with the challenge of keeping an appropriate level of communication with your clients.  On one hand, you don’t want to give the impression that you’re accessible 24/7 by sending out emails to clients during dinner time.  But it’s also critical to respond and communicate in a timely manner.

So Boomerang takes the worry out of that “I should remember to email this person back first thing Monday morning” situation. 

Plus, you can even enable a special feature that “boomerangs” a message back to you when a client is taking too long to write back.  Like Sanebox, Boomerang gives you 1 month of freebies AND 10 free boomerangs/month until you have to upgrade to a standard $5 month plan.

The downside: It’s not mobile, yet. But I’m REALLY hoping that changes soon!

Okay, stop reading now and go download those things and then come back here and discuss how they’ve changed your inbox and your life:)

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[EFFICIENCY FRIDAY] Freshbooks for Billing/Expenses/Time Tracking

As part of my half new year resolution (absorb that for a minute), I committed to blogging once a week.

Which, as it turns out, is really hard when you’re blogging for multiple clients once a week.

And client blogs, naturally, take priority since they are signing the checks/keeping my lights on;)

So I’m taking advice that I give to clients who blog for themselves but find it difficult to commit once per week: blog what you know and pick a theme.

My new theme is time saving tools because I have A LOT OF THEM.

I’m calling the series “EFFICIENCY FRIDAY” because it sounds nice. And the caps lock makes it look important.

Actually, saving time IS important. So listen up.

First up is FRESHBOOKS.

What I use it for:

  • Expense Tracking
  • Invoicing
  • End of year Tax Reports/Exports
  • Client Tracking
  • Time Tracking

Why it saves me time:

For one thing, I put all of my business expenses on my business credit card, which I have plugged into my Freshbooks account and so it AUTOMATICALLY pulls in all of my expenses and categorizes them. Right!?

I also literally hit one button to export my end of the year reports to send to my accountant so tax time is less of a pain than it used to be. (But still really depressing when it comes to that part where I write the big check).

Oh, and there are mobile apps so I can take care of business on the go.

It’s also an easy to use web app so if for some reason I need to send an invoice or log something and don’t have time, my virtual assistant can go in and do it for me!

The Cost:

There’s a free version, a $20 version and a $30 unlimited version. I use the latter because it’s worth it. Check it out. 

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Social Media for Beginners: Your Security Questions, ANSWERED

Entering the social media sphere is both exciting and understandably scary at the same time.  Social media gives you a rare opportunity to connect with people from all over the world.  Plus, if you have something important or creative to share, you have the ability to impact others through captivating tweets, blog posts, colorful Pinterest boards, and so much more!

But don’t let your worries get in the way of experiencing all that social media has to offer you.  Learn more about how you can tackle those fears and finally enjoy social media!

Are Social Networking Sites Secure?

Sites can only be as secure as they possibly can because there is no such thing as complete security online.  Whenever you visit any site, whether it’s a Facebook page or a science blog, data relating to that visit is recorded; like your computer’s IP address or shipping information if you’ve recently made an online purchase.

For example, online stores use “cookies” to remember certain information to better personalize your user experience.  You’ve probably noticed this while visiting your favorite marketplace sites and seeing a “welcome back, Jane Doe” message.  So in an effort to make the web more user-friendly and functional, your activity data is used to create that experience.

This is why you shouldn’t let security concerns hinder you from trying out social media.  All users are subjected to the same terms, plus you’ll notice different measures taken to ensure a more secure web experience; like password security questions, text message registration confirmation, and other methods to ensure better overall security.

Can What I Say Be Used Against Me?

Technically the answer to this question is “yes,” but this question also triggers the importance of using common sense online.  Once you start posting online and feeling more comfortable, you can really hit your stride when it comes to self-expression.  But just like in-person communication, you also have to practice some level of restraint.  As long as you think before you tweet, post, and upload photos, you don’t need to worry about your content coming back to hurt you.

Nothing Gets Deleted From The Internet!

This is true.  And did you know that even tweets are saved in the Library of Congress?  It all comes back to practicing common sense when you conduct yourself online, and being online gives some users a sense of power that they don’t normally exercise in the real world.  Your social media activity does leave a permanent paper trail like any other web activity, but you can choose whether it includes questionable behavior or not.

The Risk Of Identity Theft

This is a common concern that shouldn’t be overlooked.  This is a very real fear online, but there are things you can do to protect yourself from potential identity theft!

One of the most simplest and creative things you can do is register your own name as a domain.  This is a great way of really owning your identity online.  I actually did this years ago and it was one of the best investments I’ve made!

This is especially important if you’re looking to build a web presence and distribute original content under your name.  Once you start building your name and the web becomes aware, your own .com becomes that official source of your content and brand.

Understanding your social network’s privacy setting is also key for protecting yourself against identity theft.  Your social media profile information doesn’t have to be as public as you want it to be.  In fact you can change those privacy settings right now with this quick and easy guide.

Now that you know the rules of the social media game, sign up today and start expressing your amazing self to the world!

Need a little help? Pop over to the contact page and send me a message!

I’ve also put together a regular email blast update for those who want alerts and information specifically about online security – mainly as it relates to social media.

This is GREAT information for those just getting started and working on getting their bearings with all of this! Sign up below:

Secure signup for information and alerts about social media security:

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Facebook Ads: WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY & HOW

Facebook Ads… do they work? how do they work? how much do they cost?

Facebook ads are a GREAT effing way to get your brand in front of a new, specific, targeted audience. But you have to do it RIGHT, ok? Or it won’t work at all and you’ll have wasted time and money for nothing. So here’s the skinny:

WHO: Facebook ads are used to promote fan pages (your brand/biz page), but you can also have them link out to your website. Don’t do that though. Why? Because if you get someone to your website then you have achieved 1 visitor 1 time. The likelihood of conversion on that is low. BUT – if you achieve 1 Facebook fan 1 time then you have UNLIMITED POTENTIAL to market to them – for, basically, ever.

WHAT: A Facebook Ad gives you the option to target your audience by age, gender, location, relationship status, likes, and a whole bunch of other things. You can set whatever budget you want (by day or by total ad buy) and pay per impression (number of times viewed) or by click (number of times your ad actually clicks). I typically pay by click because it’s more of a sure shot but have had successes both ways. Try some different things and see what works for you.

WHEN: You’ll want to create your ad around something important that people care about. A big sale, a free resource, an event that your target audience wants to know about, etc. If you sell straw hats from a shop in New Orleans then don’t set up a facebook ad with a picture of straw hat and ad text that reads “straw hats for sale @ my store, come buy one.” Because that’s boring. And how do you know who’s in the market to BUY a straw hat anyway? Create an ad around Jazz Fest, targeting individuals who are fans of the Jazz Fest page and promote the PERFECT HAT FOR JAZZ FEST. boom.

WHERE: A Facebook Ad appears on the sidebar when you are logged into your personal Facebook Account. It targets you and your interests based on pages you’ve liked and what you have filled out on you facebook profile. This is what you will be creating. (There are also in stream ads and promoted posts and a bunch of other options but we’ll talk about that later. This is 101.)

WHY: Because you won’t get a better return on a $200 online marketing budget (or whatever your budget is) anywhere else.

HOW: Here’s a step by step guide on how to set this up:

Start by logging into Facebook ,and then follow these steps:  -> Ads Manager (left sidebar)  -> Create an Ad (green button, top right)

You’ll then be prompted to select where you want your traffic to go (it can be either the URL to your website or your Facebook fan page)

And you can select what you want your ad to do. For this example, we’ll choose “Get More Page Likes” because that’s the goal for today.

You’ll then be able to enter a header, text and upload a photo for the ad. Note: the photo will default to the profile image for the page you selected, but you can always choose to upload something more compelling or relevant to your ad.

The next section gives you the option to run “Sponsored Stories” as part of your ad. You can choose to not do this by clicking “Remove,” or you can leave it as is:

The next part is the most important: targeting your demographic. The first section includes the basics: geographic area, gender, and age:

 

After that, you can target by interest and connections: for example, I like to target my ads toward small business owners because they are most likely to become clients:

Then it gets really interesting: go ahead and check out the Advanced Targeting options. This gives you access to targeting based on “Interested In” preferences, relationship status, education level and workplace.

So, for example, if you were promoting a gay or lesbian event, you could choose to target men who are interested in men or women who are interested in women.

OR, let’s say you’re a wedding photographer who wants to target new brides. You could set a targeting option for women who are “Engaged”.

Or maybe you’re a college recruiter—you might want to target people who are 17-18 and “In High School”.

There are a lot of opportunities to get really creative here!

So now it’s time to set your budget and complete the ad! I like to use a “lifetime budget” rather than a “daily budget,” because I want to set a cap at how much I spend each time. You can also choose when your ad will start and stop running.

See that part at the bottom that says “Switch to Advanced Pricing”? Go ahead and click that. This lets you decide if you want Facebook to optimize your ad for you, OR if you want to pay for JUST clicks or JUST impressions, and then you get to set your bid for that.

So based on this example, I’ll be paying $0.19 per click to my page. For $350, this gives me an opportunity to get over 1,500 new likes on my page. *Keep in mind that not everyone who clicks on your page will then opt to “like” the page. This is why you want it looking GOOD when they get there.

 

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5 Tips for In-House Social Media Management

Not ready to outsource your brand’s social media but still want it to sparkle? Consider taking it in house – the right way. Here are 5 tips to make it work….

I’m not trying to put myself out of business here, but most small businesses would benefit from considering an in-house approach to social media management.  Not only does this cut a huge chunk out of your budget, but you’ll gain great social media marketing skills along the way!

Fortunately, you and your employees have access to many of the same tools that professional social media services use.  All you need to do is invest your time and resources into learning different applications available for top notch social media management. One great resource you can take advantage of is our Social Media Strategy Playbook – it’s 40something pages of pure, awesome, social media magic and it’s completely free. (Click the link to sign up).

Surfen während der Arbeitszeit

1. Find an In-House Opportunity

The first step toward taking your social media management efforts in-house is to find a great opportunity to channel those efforts.  If you’re an artist, or any business that can produce interesting visual content, then you have a great in-house social media opportunity right in front of you!

Reach out to your staff for any photographers who would like to take daily photos of products, retail displays, clothing, events and more!  This is a great way to build up a collection of content that’s ready to publish on various social networking sites.

Furthermore, if you’re finding that communication between you and your social media users is being hindered by your outsourced service, then you’ve definitely stumbled upon another reason to try an in-house approach.

2. Calling All Employees Who Love Social Media!

You may not think you have a social media expert amongst your staff, but you actually have quite a few; you just don’t know it yet!  There’s a lot of potential for employees to become social media experts, given how much social media is used and the quick ability to learn it.

Some of the best social media experts I know started out with barely an idea on how to update their Facebook page!  So employees who’re willing and interested in learning the tools of social media marketing can blossom into valuable social media managers.

When evaluating company employees for the position, consider their writing and grammar skills.  Do they communicate well through tweets, blog posts and page updates?  Successful social media management needs engaging content in order to catch people’s interest, so keep that in mind when interviewing potential hopefuls for the job too.

3. A Daily Commitment

It’s important that you set aside at least one to two hours per day for your in-house social media efforts.  This is where delegating people for the right duties is important.  Avoid assigning this task to employees who’re already clocking in overtime or have a second job.  This task would be ideal for employees with some extra free time to contribute or college interns.

4. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

Your in-house social media management team will only grow stronger from knowledge and experience, and an important part of that growth is receiving expert advice along the way.  Connect your social media manager with experienced professionals in the industry for great insider tips. Their advice can be invaluable when it comes to growing a successful in-house social media department.  Learn what not to do in social media, which applications provide the best support and much more!

5. Write a Solid Social Media Policy

Any company, whether it’s new or established, must have a written policy going into their in-house social media management plan.  Much of this has to do with the security of sensitive corporate data and social media accounts.  Since in-house social media management requires laptops and mobile devices to function, there needs to be a strict policy in regards to how data is shared, stored and accessed.  This also prevents former employees and managers from hacking or sabotaging social media accounts in the future.

Need help with any of this?

give_us_a_shout

 

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3 things you can do right now to create noticeable social media impact

Last week, I invited you to pick my brain and ask me your most pressing social media questions. Today I’m going to do my best to tackle question 1: What is one thing I can do right now on social media that will show me a noticeable impact? 

Answer: SO GLAD YOU ASKED THAT! Because social media building is all about consistently creating new content, the idea of a one off, instant impact action item isn’t a thing on most people’s radars. Granted, you can’t build a successful presence based off of the occasional “one off” BUT you can add a little spice and get yourself a boost every now and then! Here are 3 of my favorite “one offs” that you can try right now:

LAUNCH A CONTEST

Use an App like Shortstack to create a contest for your Facebook page. The giveaway could be for a product that you currently sell or a new product you’re trying to promote. Don’t have a product? You can also give away a service that you offer: consulting time, a haircut, lawn service, etc. Make sure to collect email addresses of everyone who enters your contest (this is setup via the app you use to run the contest) so that you can send an email offer following the contest for a special deal for everyone who entered. They will be twice as likely to buy your product or service once they feel like they’ve gotten a deal that is exclusive to them.

WRITE A BADASS POST AND PROMOTE IT

One great way to increase engagement is to create an amazing wall post (format: text + photo) that you know will spark engagement. (You can figure out what will spark natural engagement by looking at interactions on previous posts. Whatever has the most comments and likes – that’s the kind of thing you should post again). Then, wait for the first few likes and comments and then hit “promote” for $10. This will ensure that even more people will see your post and thus spark more engagement. If your post is really badass and this is your first time using the “promote” feature, this will be your most impactful post with the highest impressions to date!

MAKE A DIRECT ASK

Want more fans? followers? email signups? people to share your new job posting? ASK THEM. (I know, right?)

You can offer an incentive of course, but keep it simple and keep the call to action around overall goodwill. For example, on her birthday, my friend Lizzy asked all of her Facebook friends to “like” her brand page (Life City) as a birthday present. Everyone loves Lizzy and her passion for what she does, so of course we took on such a simple task – after all, it was her birthday!

Another cool example that I saw recently was an email sent out by 4.0 Schools. They recently posted a few new jobs and wanted the help of their network to get the word out. Here’s what they sent:

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Why does it work? You tell me. Doesn’t this keep you reading and make you want to spread the word? Exactly.

 

Got a burning question about social media?
There’s still time to get it featured in the blog series…just ask your question on THIS FORM.

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