Amplify Austin raised over $2.8 million for local charities, exploding past its original goal of $1 million. Over 20,000 gifts were made online, including some from 48 states and 13 countries. Insert Texas-size smiley face HERE.
From a single donor’s perspective, Austin’s first community giving day came and went in a flurry of live events and online activity. I was late to the game, having just heard about Amplify Austin only a couple of days before it launched.
Even so, I was able not only to give to my favorite causes, but also to spread the word and reach others – thanks to the easy-to-use giving form and other online tools that I Live Here I Give Here provided.
To borrow a term from Facebook, donors were able to experience frictionless giving and sharing.
Exhibit A is the online donation form. Note the “secret sauce” sharing options at the bottom of the form, which allow you to easily share over email and your social outlets, and even embed onto your website or blog.
So in the space of just a few minutes, individual donors could:
1. Make a gift (or two or three).
2. Embed the donor form in a blog post or website.
For 24 hours, the form appeared and was active on my blog. Now it has a message letting people know that the fundraiser is over.
I shared on my Facebook personal profile and in the Social Media Club Austin Facebook group.
4. Change a Facebook cover photo to use the one provided by I Live Here I Give Here.
This was a nice touch. When you visited their Facebook Page, I Live Here I Give Here’s cover photo had a couple of clear, obvious call-to-actions, including using their cover photo and sharing their Amplify Austin posts.
Like the pop-up stores so popular at SXSW, this “pop-up fundraiser” was exciting and very effective, even for latecomers like me. The good news is that I’m on I Live Here I Give Here’s email list now (just received a nice thank-you from them). If they’re as well organized as I think they are, I’ll get plenty of notice ahead of next year’s event so I can make even more of a difference.
Amplify Austin kicks off at 7 pm March 4, 2013, and ends 24 hours later at 7 pm March 5. Launched by I Live Here, I Give Here, Amplify Austin is the first community “giving festival” modeled after other day-long giving events around the country. Your donations are amplified with matching funds and prize giveaways throughout the 24 hours.
So many worthy and worthwhile nonprofits are doing great work here in Austin. One I hope you’ll consider is All Blind Children of Texas. ABCTX helps blind children navigate our sighted world. It fills the gaps in traditional education and life skills learning that come so easily to sighted kids.
Learn more about the programs ABCTX funds and resources it provides. ABCTX is also the charity that Social Media Club Austin is helping this year, with Wesley Faulkner providing pro bono social media strategy consulting.
Side note: Check out the bottom of the donation form below – it’s easy to give and even easier to share. Austin-based Kimbia provides the software that powers Match Day events like Amplify Austin, making it a snap for donors to give and to share the cause.
Please join me in giving to All Blind Children of Texas and other Austin nonprofits during these 24 hours of Amplify Austin. (If the form does not show up below, please refresh your browser.) Thank you!
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Ever heard of Pubcon? It began in 2000 as an informal gathering of early SEO wonks and webmasters at a London pub. Its founder, Austinite Brett Tabke, calls it “The Premier Search and Social Media Conference”.
Last week, I attended a smaller regional version of Pubcon, and gained a ton of useful tips from the speakers, a cadre of been-there, done-that implementors of the latest in social media, search engine optimization and search engine marketing.
What follows is a Storify recap of the conference. The first section, Speaker Presentations, gives links to the available slide decks. By far, the two most viewed sessions are “The Bruce Lee Guide to Strategic Content” by Steve Floyd and “Google AuthorRank for Businesses (Rel=publisher)” by Ann Smarty. The recap continues with the best (and funniest) tweets of the day.
Many thanks to Brett Tabke, the Pubcon staff and all the speakers and attendees!
The best digital marketing podcasts are both entertaining and full of useful information. Listening to them makes your commute whiz by in a blur of productive learning. Each online marketing podcast below is informative and interesting, and produced on a regular schedule. (Consistency in podcasting is a big challenge, as there are a number of good podcasts out there with spotty schedules).
As a bonus, each podcast has supplemental web-based resources you can dive into when the material covered deserves more than just a cursory listen.
I enjoy listening to these two because they’re both extremely knowledgeable and simpatico. Imagine Siskel and Ebert if they had liked each other. John Wall acts as host, everyman, color commentator and well-informed straight man to Christopher Penn’s nerd-in-the-know. They discuss everything from analytics to SEO, email marketing, mobile, PPC, social media and copywriting.
Heard often from Christopher: How valuable Google Analytics is, often with quick demo examples.
Heard often from John: How important mobile is; quirky, often-in-jest transition to sponsor promo; “I’ll throw the link on the website”.
Deserves an award for: Best Digital Marketing Podcast, Best Social Media Podcast, Best Host and Co-Host Repartee, Best Podcast Titles
Jay Baer must have had a 2012 new year’s business resolution to create a successful podcast, and that, he did – with Eric Boggs of Argyle Social. Their description of Social Pros: “We shine the spotlight on social media practitioners: real people doing real work in social media.” I see Social Pros as a collection of “slice of life” conversations with diverse, in-the-trenches people who are actually using the best practices presented in Marketing Over Coffee. So the two podcasts are quite complementary.
What’s great: Informational Q&A with a social media manager working in the real world. Also, Jay’s friendliness, quick wit and extensive industry knowledge make him a great host.
Heard often from Jay: ”There needs to be a social media management solution in the midsize business space.”
Deserves an award for: Fastest Ramp-Up of a Solid Social Media Podcast, Rookie of the Year Marketing Podcast, Best Real Marketing Pros Podcast
Mitch Joel described himself in a recent podcast as having a “passion for and deep repugnance for” marketing – and this defines his approach. He asks tough, insightful questions of his guests, and takes them to task if necessary in his polite, Canadian way. (Side note: his opening music reminds me of one of my favorite shows, Arrested Development.)
What’s great: Consistent high quality over the years, longevity, staying power (332 episodes since 2006!)
Heard often from Mitch: “So… Who are you and what do you do?”
Deserves an award for: Longest Running Successful Marketing Podcast, Best North American Marketing Podcast
4. Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch (bi-weekly, 20-30 minutes long)
John Jantsch interviews various authors and entrepreneurs, so you hear thought leadership not only on marketing-related topics, but on small business matters in general. John, obviously a voracious reader, asks thoughtful questions from both the audience’s perspective, as well as from his own very informed perspective.
What’s great: John is very knowledgeable and asks tough, non-softball-type questions. On his website, he does the heavy lifting by summarizing the author’s main points; so if you’re pressed for time or need a review, just read John’s synopsis.
Heard often from John: Mannish giggling.
Deserves an award for: Best Small Business Marketing Podcast, Best Small Business Podcast
This is a newbie to my repertoire, so I’m not as familiar with it, but Hubspot produces such fantastic content in general, that I have the highest hopes for this podcast. Hubspot recently changed its podcast/videocast format from a live audience to a recorded version, which is much better for a wider audience. The current two hosts, Karen Rubin and Mike Volpe, work well together, and I am happy to finally hear a woman on a marketing podcast.
What’s great: It’s a quick wrap-up of timely digital marketing highlights. The website has a comprehensive, link-rich summary of each podcast. The twitter hashtag is #MktgUp, but now that the videocast is no longer live, I’m not sure how active the hashtag will be.
Heard often: ”The marketing takeaway is…” Hubspot ends each news segment by summarizing the main marketing lesson, which is helpful.
Deserves an award for: Podcast with Enormous Potential, Best Web-based Summary of a Podcast
Those are my favorite, don’t-miss, top podcasts. What would you add to this list?
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Good images and photos are key to engaging your fans on Facebook. This is especially true for visually oriented businesses, such as restaurants and food, clothing and accessories, furniture, cars, retail in general, and almost any business-to-consumer products.
How do you optimize your image content on Facebook? First, check out this handy infographic by graphic designer Louise Myers. It’s a one-stop shop for all the Facebook image dimensions you’ll need. Once you’re happy with your basic images – cover photo, profile pic, custom tabs – it’s time to improve, revamp and refine your regular photo-posting routine.
These 5 easy tips will make you a Facebook image-posting pro:
1. Pin important posts to the top of your timeline, and be sure to include a compelling image. Most Page admins know you can pin any status update to the top left of your Page, which is prime real estate for Page visitors. A pinned post (you can have only one at a time) stays pinned for 7 days at the top left of your Page, and is typically used to showcase a contest, upcoming event, or welcome video or image.
I like how Tocquiny, an Austin ad agency, has a simple “We’re Hiring” message to communicate, but instead of a ho-hum text update, they created a simple image which attracts more attention and which also appears as the top photo in their custom tab section.
2a. Use the star to highlight important posts. A highlighted post expands across the width of your timeline, taking up the space in both columns. Highlighted posts are good for all-hands photos, new product announcements, panoramic shots, or any other majorly horizontal photo. It will display at 843px wide by whatever height it is, up to 403px. Killer image tip: Put each customer testimonial in its own 843px-wide image and “sprinkle” these testimonials throughout your timeline by using the post scheduler to either backdate or schedule them.
2b. Easiest tip ever: Highlight your best photos in your photo collection. You have a ton of photos lounging in your Photos tab. Find your favorites or your fans’ favorites and click the star to quadruple their size. For example, BerryAustin can choose to highlight its popular, artistic catering van.
3. Promote your blog post on your Page by posting a larger image, not just a link and thumbnail. Facebook’s default way of displaying a link is to show the title, some text and a tiny thumbnail. Your awesome blog post deserves more real estate than that! So take a couple of minutes to screenshot the top of your blog article and then post that image, along with a short intro and the all-important link to the article.
Caution: Remember that this image will show up in some of your fans’ newsfeeds, so don’t go overboard and make a really long screenshot image to clutter up their feeds. I try to make as close to a square image as I can. See tip #4.
4. When creating/editing images or snapping photos, think square. Photos that appear on your timeline wall display as a 403px square image. If your image is a larger square, Facebook will typically shrink it to fit.
If your photo is the common 4:3 aspect ratio of the default iPhone/Android camera app, then Facebook usually displays the topmost part on the timeline wall – vertical photos appear as if the bottom is cropped out. The good news? Once a photo is posted on your timeline wall, you can reposition it. Also, users who click on the photo will see it in its entirety; and when the photo appears in your fans’ newsfeeds, it will also appear in its entirety.
Horizontal photos wider than 403 pixels will have the edges cut off. This emoticons image was 500px wide, so Facebook cropped off the edges to display it as 403px wide. Now users who visit the Page will need to click through to get the left side of the emoticons.
One easy way to think square for mobile photo uploads is to use Instagram for most of your smartphone photos. Another way is to use an app like Pic Stitch (iPhone) or Photo Grid (Android) to make your default camera photo square before you post it.
When you create an image from scratch – again, think square, especially if the image is wider than 403px. Bazaarvoice used a square image to display this quote about CMOs being brand stewards. Page visitors will get the message at a glance without getting confused or having to click through.
5. Spruce up your Facebook Page with a wider variety of images. If you’re bored with the types of images you’ve been posting to your Page, consider something new: adding text to your photos, combining or “collaging” several photos into one, newsjacking a meme, using “prefab” e-cards, or putting quotations on a background canvas. For more details on how to do these, see 5 Easy Apps to Improve and Customize Your Images and Photos.
Question: What’s one of your tried-and-true image posting apps or tips?
If you have a smartphone, you’re a photographer. And you probably spend quality time with your favorite photo and image editing software, whether it’s a desktop tool like Photoshop, or a mobile app like Instagram, Photoshop Express or Camera+, or a desktop/mobile combo like Pixlr-o-matic or Snapseed.
Want to take your creativity up a notch, and perhaps boost engagement on your Facebook fan page? Your imagination and these five easy apps will breathe new life into your image-posting routines, no matter which social networks host your new creations.
2. Collage your photos with Pic Stitch for iPhone/iPad or Photo Grid for Android. Both are tap-intuitive and give you lots of choices for the grid layout and the photo aspect ratio. Use Pic Stitch and Photo Grid for before-and-after shots, series-of-steps illustrations, views of a product from different angles, photos of your employees and more.
I sometimes use Pic Stitch as a “make my image square” app before uploading a photo to Facebook, because square photos look better on a Facebook timeline/wall versus photos with the default iPhone 4:3 aspect ratio.
BerryAustin Yogurt used Quickmeme’s version of the Dos Equis man to promote their Sunday special featuring hot fudge sundaes.
4. Parody a sentiment with Someecards or other free online e-card. Someecards is available as both a mobile app and desktop tool. Again, BerryAustin has a fun, creative example.
5. Use Instagram. I saved the biggy for last. Instagram is both a photo editor (famous for its filters) and a social network with over 50 million users. If you’re not using it, dip your big toe in the Instagram water by reading this great tutorial from Laura Zimmerman and this beginner’s guide by Mashable. Instagram photos are square, which again, almost always look better on a Facebook timeline.
Bonus tip: If you create some to-die-for, amazing images, consider protecting (or at least claiming credit for) them by putting a watermark on them with iWatermark. Phyllis Khare of All Things Social Media gives good advice and more details on iWatermark in her blog post.
Question: Have you tried any of these tools? Do you have other favorites? Please share!
Social media is a megaphone for irate and disgruntled customers. The good news – it also gives businesses the opportunity to find those angry customers and make them happy again, then reap the rewards of goodwill and positive word of mouth afterwards.
I was one of those disgruntled people sounding off on social media earlier this summer. I missed my first flight ever, departing from Austin on Southwest Airlines on an early morning flight. There were hordes of people in line and only two TSA ID checkers – I’ve never before or since seen lines that long at the airport.
Right after I missed my flight (and got rebooked on another much later one), I tweeted my frustration. The response from Southwest Airlines and the Austin Airport is a study in contrasts – of how to effectively handle a complaining customer and how NOT to.
First, both Southwest and the airport were “listening” or monitoring over Twitter, and both responded quickly. Those are the first key steps of handling a disgruntled customer.
But the kudos stop there for the Austin airport. Instead of acknowledging the double-barreled inconvenience of both the missed flight and of waiting in a security line for over an hour, the airport pretty much blamed me for not arriving early enough. As this New York Times article advises, don’t blame the customer, even if you think they are wrong.
The screenshot above also shows another irate customer, who saw my complaint on Twitter and accused the airport of lying about the TSA staffing situation. My guess is that the airport didn’t handle his complaint very well either.
By contrast, Southwest Airlines employee Verity Kugelmann tweeted “Sorry to hear about your experience! Can you DM me more information?” What a relief and breath of fresh air. Why? First of all, Verity was an actual person, not a big company or its logo. Secondly, she used the word “sorry” and seemed sincerely interested in helping me.
The bulk of our Direct Message conversation is below:
I gave her the information she asked for, and she followed up with the triple crown of customer complaint turnaround: apology, remedy and improvement. Well, maybe not instant improvement, but Verity said she’d share my concerns with the airport, which I appreciate.
The Austin airport and in fact, any business, can learn more about turning complaints into positive word of mouth by following the advice of Andy Sernovitz in his Social Media Examiner article “10 Ways to Deal With Upset Customers Using Social Media“.
As for Verity and Southwest, yes, I received my discount and I’ve used it already. I love Southwest and fly it whenever I can. I just wish they flew to more destinations.
Have you ever complained over social media about a business? How did they respond?
You know you want extra buzz during your event, and that live tweeting can enhance the experience for both the audience and presenters.
As an event organizer, how do you make live tweeting work best for you and your audience?
- Verify wifi availability and passwords.
- Verify Twitter handles for all presenters, their companies and event sponsors.
- Include the event hashtag and Twitter handles in event promotion, including in invitations and on social media outlets. See screenshot for examples of pre-event tweets.
- Create signage/slides for all of the above to display at your event.
- Plan who will tweet under your official Twitter handle. At Social Media Club Austin, we’ve had different people at the helm during any particular event. If you don’t want to disclose your official login credentials, consider the GroupTweet tool, which allows others to tweet on your behalf without knowing your password.
- Be a pro with your Twitter engagement tool. Know it well because you’ll be using the heck out of it – typing bon mots while listening intently, and scanning for others’ great content to retweet. While I’m tweeting, I use Hootsuite as a listening dashboard to monitor at least three streams at a time during our panels: one for mentions of @smcaustin, one for our hashtag #smca, and one for outgoing tweets. Many people swear by Tweetdeck as a dashboard.
- Charge your devices ahead of time. I usually have three charged devices at the ready – laptop, iPad and iPhone. I use the iPhone for snapping and tweeting out photos and the laptop for Hootsuite.
During the event
Armed with the event hashtag and presenters’ and sponsors’ handles, you or your chosen live tweeter are ready to tweet on your organization’s behalf as the event unfolds. Your main goal is tweet out the speakers’ (and audience members’) best content – those important, relevant and humorous highlights that your audience cares about.
- Listen carefully. When you tweet on behalf of the organizer’s handle, your audience assumes your tweets have more credibility. Live up to that challenge!
- Credit whichever presenter or panelist spoke. Use the format @presenter says [their content]. If you’re really short on characters, use [their content] -@presenter.
- Take and tweet photos to vary your content. Bonus: these photos can later be put on your website, Facebook or Google+ page.
- Retweet others’ valuable content. Audience members often appreciate being recognized in a RT by the organizer.
- Be ready to search for a resource (document, website, video) a speaker refers to in her talk. It’s helpful to tweet out that link.
- Don’t be afraid to tweet the occasional personal tidbit; for example, to thank or recognize specific audience members. This works only if you know the audience and presenters quite well and have a history with them.
- Don’t forget that all-important hashtag. Even when tweeting as the organizer’s handle, you should always use the event hashtag. You can set up some Twitter clients such as Tweetdeck to automatically add a hashtag.
- Don’t overtweet – or Twitter will prevent your tweets from going out for awhile. Twitter has limits for not only daily tweets (1,000), but semi-hourly tweets as well. I ran into this limit during the last 10 minutes of our last panel. After some day-after investigation and emails/tweets to both Twitter and Hootsuite, I recommend that you not post more than 40-42 tweets within the span of an hour.
Advanced live tweeting
Mastered the checklist above? Consider some more advanced tips:
- Preschedule some tweets. This is a time-saver when 1) you already know you’ll have supplemental info (links) to give your audience, and 2) you want to remember to thank every panelist and sponsor. See example above. (These tweets can easily be modified or deleted once you’re at the event if something changes. For example, I arrived after the yummy Austin’s Pizza was delivered and didn’t actually smell it like I did last time, so I deleted that first tweet. And I moved up the timing of the other tweets to coincide with the discussion.)
- Got a couple of buddies who want to help? Ask one to live-storify the event, and post the storify immediately following the event. Ask the other (photography-savvy) buddy to work the room, snapping and tweeting a wide variety of photos, which you can simply retweet.
- If some hashtag followers have a history of grumbling about your “noisy” hashtag during events, proactively tweet out a link on how to temporarily mute a hashtag.
- Have several plan Bs. If Hootsuite goes down, be ready with Tweetdeck (or vice versa) or just native Twitter. If the wifi crawls to a standstill, be ready with your smartphone or tablet. If the event is long, plan on sitting by an outlet, and bring your charger or extra battery power.
For more information, see these other helpful posts about live tweeting:
- Hubspot’s 7 Ways to Use Social Media to Rock Your Next Event – covers the bigger picture of your event promotion, not just live tweeting
- Social Media Today’s “How to Live Tweet from an Event“- tips from Tia Fisher of eModeration, professional live events hosts and moderators
- Socialbrite’s 12-step guide on how to live-tweet an event – great overview from Susannah Vila of Movements.org, specifically for the person who is live tweeting
- Brian Gerald Murphy’s Tools and Tips to Live Tweet a Conference – tips on displaying tweets on a projector in your event space
How would you change or add to this checklist?
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Boost the Success of Your Conference or Event with Live Tweeting
You’ve recruited the best and brightest to speak at your conference. Attendance is great, coffee is served and the event begins. All eyes are on the presenter. Or are they?
Chances are, many of your attendees have their heads buried in their smartphone, iPad or laptop. They’re scanning their screens and typing away with gusto. And that’s exactly what you want.
Welcome to the world of live tweeting, where audience members – and even presenters and panelists – use Twitter to comment in real time about the topic at hand.
Live tweeting benefits just about everyone at a conference, panel or other information-packed program. Event organizers, presenters and attendees can get more out of your event when they bring Twitter into the mix. As Lorna Sixsmith, copywriter and social media consultant, explains:
- Live tweeting helps event organizers by offering free publicity, increased engagement and audience feedback. It amplifies the conversation and word of mouth about your event, as people tweet before, during and after events they look forward to, like and learn from.
- Live tweeting also benefits the audience by easing in-person introductions and networking among members. It can help attendees focus, as they try to capture the speaker’s main points in (fewer than) 140 characters. And nothing rivals Twitter for real-time questions and audience feedback.
But what about presenters? Don’t they deserve our undivided attention after all the preparation they’ve done? This Toastmasters article recommends that they take a cue from Chris Brogan to “let down their guard”; presenters too can take advantage of the rapport-building and reach-extending that live tweeting and other social media use enable.
When not to live tweet
I recommend tweeting be avoided during more personal or “human-oriented” events – those times when people themselves, and not the information they share, take center stage. Smaller get-togethers (even if they’re educational), artistic performances and networking-focused events are good examples.
Social media diehards will check in on foursquare upon arrival and tweet a photo or two – that extra bit of publicity might be welcomed by organizers. But attendees soon learn that they miss the point (and detract from others’ enjoyment) when their eyes are glued to their screens and not to the people in front of them.
What would Miss Manners say?
Once it was considered rude to do anything but stare silently (preferably with eyebrows raised) at a presenter as he or she spoke. With the proliferation of wifi and Twitter use over the last few years, both audience and speaker can more easily reap the benefits of real-time interaction and increased engagement.
Ready to live tweet your event? See this handy Live Tweet Checklist – Best Practices for Conference and Event Planners.
Other posts you might like:
Promote Your High Tech event in Austin – For Free
Storify – Collect Social Media Sound Bites Into a Coherent Story
Do’s and Don’ts of Community Manager Rock Stars
Live Tweet Checklist – Best Practices for Conference and Event Planners
Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25 was the shot heard ’round the online world last week. 21-year-old Cathryn Sloane, recent University of Iowa grad and NextGen Journal contributor, claimed that she and her peers grew up with social media and are therefore best suited to manage it, because “no one else will ever be able to have as clear an understanding of these services, no matter how much they think they do.”
Her post ignited a firestorm of comments ranging from Peter Shankman‘s “I no longer want to live on this planet” to Jason Falls “Do me a favor: Call me when you’re 35 or 40 and tell me how short-sighted this was. It’ll make you feel better”. A number of bloggers have also raised their proverbial pitchforks, mostly in protest of the original piece.
My armchair analysis, based on a quick read of her older blog posts and this recent Newsweek piece, is that this young woman yearns for a job and was hoping to stake a claim on social media management positions as an obvious fit for her and her fellow Millennials. Many Gen Xers and Boomers reacted harshly to her post, perhaps because they have felt the sting of ageism in the workplace as youth is so glorified in the world of social media.
Let’s take a breath. And summon the optimism of our own youth, exemplified by Boomers’ I’d like to teach the world to sing, Gen Y’s Be excellent to each other or Millennials’ Good Guy Greg: Generational diversity in the workplace is good.
The literature demonstrates, and leading companies know, that diversity management practices are essential to drive employee engagement across all groups and to foster the productivity and innovation critical for business success and sustainability. -Age, A 21st Century Diversity Imperative
The happy truth is that the same benefits of racial, ethnic and gender diversity in the workplace – improved sales and profits, improved employee retention and recruitment, and decreased complaints and litigation – seem to apply to generational diversity as well. In a Kelly Global Workforce study of 100,000 employees, 42% of respondents said that the differences among Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers actually improved productivity in their workplace, according to this report.
One oft-repeated recommendation involves cross-generational mentoring. Consider the stereotypes: Boomers have a deep understanding of their organizations, Gen Xers are good at finding opportunities and working independently, and Millennials have cutting-edge technology skillsets. Members of any given generation can productively mentor members of other generations, thus cross-pollinating knowledge, skills and opportunities across the organization.
But back to the original publisher, NextGen. Its editors also laud the benefits of “diverse perspectives” in their somewhat flimsy follow-up post.
I feel for this young woman, and it concerns me that over a week has gone by and we haven’t heard hide nor hair from her. I hope she brushes herself off, gets back on the horse again, and follows the advice of Steve Radick in his “Recovering from a Social Media Mistake” post.
I’m reminded of some of the principles taught by the late great Stephen Covey, including the abundance mentality and thinking win-win. Our teams and organizations and yes, our country, all do better when we work together.
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