Thursday, March 31, 2016

Pinterest or Instagram: Which is Better for Your Business?

 

social-media1

Instagram and Pinterest have both become social darlings over the last several year; Pinterest boasts more than 100 million monthly active users whereas Instagram houses more than 400 million. Since Instagram boasts four times the users, one would assume it is the most powerful platform. But don’t count the pin-master out. To win the social game, you have to be aces at engagement. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a more riveted audience than the world of pinners. So which one should you choose?

Many brands fail to capitalize on either site because they don’t understand how to leverage the platforms in a beneficial way. Some brands don’t even understand how the two platforms differ from on another let alone how to woo their target consumers.

Let’s quell your social angst, branch out into new digital territory, and discover which visual platform is the right one for your marketing domination.

Pinterest versus Instagram: Definitions and Explorations
What do Instagram and Pinterest have in common? They encourage social interaction through visual shares. That’s pretty much where the similarities end.

Instagram has become famous for its filters. Users snap a picture, and with the tap of the screen can apply all sorts of effects and digital enhancements. Instagram is also a predominantly mobile platform which makes it exceedingly popular among younger generations. In fact, more than half of Instagram users are under the age of 30. Instagram is all about the users and their lives; an authentic and personal look into their worlds through pictures, videos, GIFs and more.

Pinterest users share ideas through visual content to create “boards” which can ultimately tell a story. Participants can upload, save, sort and mange everything from images to videos, infographics, illustrations and more. With Pinterest, most of the images are not personal, they’re pictures found online. This is essentially a means to propagate ideas with other users that, in turn, makes Pinterest a far more action-oriented site.

Pinterest is about curating content found on the Internet. Instagram is about sharing your own photos with the world.

Demographics and Usage
Since they are actually quite disparate as individual experiences, consumers use Pinterest and Instagram in entirely different ways. Since Instagram is all about the personal side of things, users are looking for a much more intimate experience with the brands they follow. This makes Instagram ideal for giving followers an authentic view of your business. Consumers these days demand transparency from the brands they support and Instagram gives your company the chance to provide that. Instagram also gives brands the chance to engage their fans at an unparalleled rate; posts on Instagram generate roughly a per-follower engagement rate of 4.21 percent. That is 58 times higher than the rates acquired on Facebook and 120 times higher than those on Twitter.

Pinterest users are more fixated on discovering and curating their own content. Much in the way that people use search engines, Pinterest is leveraged to search for content, inspiration, tips and tricks, products, and so forth. Each of the pins found on the site link back to the image’s source, which is typically an external website; this is one category that Pinterest definitely wins as Instagram only allows for links to be shared in the bio section. For businesses that are looking to boost site visits and SEO efforts, Pinterest has the tools you need. For marketers, Pinterest is far more powerful. At least for now.

The audiences for each are quite different too. As mentioned before, millennials love Instagram. While the majority of users are still in their 20s, the genders are evenly balanced. On Pinterest, however, the age demographic is slightly older with 18- to 34-year-olds making up 56 percent of the user base. The biggest difference is that upward of 85 percent of Pinterest users are female. That makes this an ideal platform for promoting fashion, makeup, design products, baby goods and similar offerings.

As a natural byproduct of each site’s structure, Instagram is much more conversational than Pinterest. Engagement on Instagram can be stellar. You have to be a bit more crafty to attain the same on Pinterest, but it’s not at all unachievable. Strategically leveraging Pinterest boards to curate a detailed story can equate to loads of comments, likes, and shares. Additionally, the use of promotions and contests integrated with these kinds of visual stories can be massively compelling.

The Bottom Line
Which platform is more powerful? It depends on the content you plan to share, the audience you cater to, and goals of your company. The two sites can’t be lumped together — they each have their own defining attributes. The key is to have a clearly defined brand and demographic, and the choice should then be obvious.

If you are looking to promote blog content, go with Pinterest. If you are seeking to show followers the business’ personal side, head to Instagram. If the main goal of using the platform is sales, Pinterest is the clear winner. If it is engagement you’re after, Instagram reigns supreme. If you want the best of both worlds, learn to utilize each platform to its fullest and understand which site is appropriate for each type of posting.

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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Businesses on Messenger Connects Stores With Customers

 

Businesses on Messenger

Facebook is opening up new, more convenient lines of communication between businesses and their customers with Businesses on Messenger.


Businesses on Messenger

The new feature is a bid to improve communications and interactions between people and businesses.

“With Businesses on Messenger, people can have rich and personal conversations with businesses,” Facebook said in a blog post. “For example, after purchasing something from a website, people can choose to receive updates in Messenger and continue their conversation with the business in the app.”
Those who opt-in will receive pertinent posts from the business such as order confirmations and shipping status updates. They will also have the chance to modify an order, track its shipping progress or process a return.

Customers will also be able to ask a business questions, make requests and receive timely responses. All interactions between the business and customer are saved in a single, ongoing thread.
Businesses on Messenger will launch with a handful of partners such as Zulily and Everlane with more to be added in the future.

Those wanting to get their business on Messenger can do so via this link.



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Friday, March 25, 2016

How To Optimize Business Page Clicks Using Semantic SEO

 

SEO-Tips

If you are into blogging and online article writing, then the terms ‘Semantics’ and ‘Search Engine Optimization’ are familiar to you.

For the benefit of those who have just made their foray into the virtual world of blog posts and write ups, here’s a simple definition to start: Dictionaries define the term semantics as ‘the meaning and interpretation of a word, sign or sentence.’ Still ambiguous? Semantics is basically how a particular word, term or phrase is interpreted. Let me give you an example. When I say the word ‘Apple,’ what is the first thing that comes to your mind? While one person may think of the fruit, another may associate it with the technology giant. Get the picture?

Search engines like Bing and Google come with a set of algorithms that help to interpret such words and terms. Once entered, these search engines come up with topics and articles closely related to the word punched in. Being specific is what helps here. For example, if the query or research has something to do with a product from the Apple brand, it must be clearly stated – ‘Apple iPhone next launch’ or ‘Apple iPhone 6S features.’ Being specific will help these search engines throw up data that is closely related to the intended topic.


Semantic SEO research: Is it necessary?
The Web. Yes, that’s the reason. Companies, business entrepreneurs, and clients understand that no longer is an organization or business bound by its physical presence. Moreover, the market is stiff and, to reach out to customers, a brand has to go beyond its physical address. In this case, the Internet is the best tool to reach out to the masses. But how does one stand out in the crowd? How do the client’s business webpage and social media profile score over others? Here’s where the usage of SEO (a term or phrase that helps in optimizing search results) comes into play. Usage of SEO will help in improving search engine ranking.

A search engine is said to have the thinking abilities of that of a six-year-old. Therefore, it will throw up information based on what it is fed. Semantic SEO research helps in coming up with phrases and terms that when fed to search engines, provides results that are not general in nature. Semantic SEO goes a step further to understand the relationship and interdependency of the words and phrases used, how they work together in a sentence and thus provides better search results. It takes the context of the words into consideration and also provides supportive and related terms. Who will do all the research? How can a virtual assistant help? This is definitely a task that can be outsourced to a virtual assistant.\

The most important factor is that it improves viewership. This is something that all websites want and need. The more clicks a website gets, the better it’s Google ranking. This translates into good business and popularity. Businesses these days work hard to improve search engine ranking.


Semantic SEO and the Virtual Assistant
Judging by the nature of this article, clients understand the importance of improving and attracting traffic to their webpages and social media profiles. This understanding brings more customer clicks and the system of Google ranking helps in the understanding of semantic SEO. The million-dollar question here is whether they have the time to do such integrated research that will help with all of the above? Not in 100 moons! Turning over the responsibility to a virtual assistant is the best option. Seasoned writers know how to improve SEO. Here’s how a virtual assistant can help when it comes to research and meeting SEO goals. Once provided with the work, a virtual assistant will go through the task so as to understand the nature of the task. He/ she will work on targeting the audience segment specified by the client. Having chewed on and digested the task, the next step would involve coming up with a list of core words that will help enhance the work. With this in place, the virtual assistant will delve deep into his/her weaponry to provide quality work that comes loaded with strategically placed keywords and terms. This optimizes the availability of the client’s page/work when searched on the Internet.


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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Publishers to Gain Access to Facebook Messenger: How Small Businesses Can Capitalize

 

Flickr photo by Maria Elena
 

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has stated that, “Over the last couple years, we’ve been building Messenger into a service that can help you express yourself in many more ways beyond simple text messages.”

That vision has slowly been coming to life and has recently taken an exciting new turn.
While the company has been busy revamping its Messenger app to become more versatile and inclusive of other offerings, the latest development to this restructuring benefits publishers everywhere.

While Facebook Instant Articles all but obliterated publisher attempts at driving traffic to native websites from content on social, Messenger may put that power right back into their hands.
The company is currently poised to announce at its upcoming F8 developers conference April 12-13 that all publishers will gain the ability to share content with their followers through the Facebook Messenger app through the use of chat bots.

It is rumored that the digital corporation is already working on a development kit that would allow developers to build their own chat bots to run inside the chat application.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into what this new feature will actually look like when it comes to fruition and how this could potentially impact small businesses across the globe.


Publishing in Messenger
This new Messenger feature will allow publishers to share content along with a short description and a link back to the original article residing on their websites via chat bots. Rather than users simply interacting with articles through News Feeds, this will allow brands direct access to individual audience members. Readers who are interested in this offering would simply need to send a message to the publication of their choosing (that participates in the program) to begin receiving content through the app.

One publication, a German newspaper called “Bild”, has already gained access to the private tool. The company has been distributing materials through the bot-controlled content propagation feature since January, albeit on a limited basis. Currently, the publication has only been able to offer “news, background information, and rumors regarding the transfer window of the German soccer league” which was allowed to expand to include updates about a German reality TV show entitled “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!”

The content the company has currently shared through Messenger is not exclusive and has been posted on other outlets, so it seems that this usage is still merely an experiment as opposed to genuine early access. In regard to how many followers have signed up, Bild would not provide any numbers, but was quoted as stating: “Bild has to be where its readers are,” as noted by the company’s editor-in-chief, Julian Reichelt. She also stated that, “About 30 million people in Germany experience their daily digital routine on Facebook. That’s why we engage in Instant Articles and that’s why we, together with Facebook, look for solutions to deliver our peerless content faster and smarter to our readers.”

The potential for this feature is not merely anchored in sharing content — Facebook is currently developing a “Chat SDK” which could provide users with assistance in making travel reservations, shopping services and customer support.

How will these offerings affect small business owners? The changes could indeed be very significant.


A Helper or Hindrance?
Make no mistake, Messenger publications could be a goldmine for small businesses. While posting articles on Facebook might get your page a few more clicks, it is more than likely it will be buried under scads of other postings on people’s News Feeds. With Instant Articles, your hope of bolstering site traffic by posting great content on social was formally crushed. Publishing content through Messenger, however, allows you direct contact to audience members who will visit your site thanks to the link provided. Now you have a dual opportunity to advance your content and website with typical Facebook posts as well as bot-generated messages to users. And with more than 800 million monthly active users on Messenger, this is a tremendously favorable offering.

The best part is that Facebook Messenger is still growing. According to Neilson, Messenger was the fastest growing application of 2015, and reports from App Annie show Messenger as the second most popular iOS app in history; coming in only behind Facebook itself.

At this time, there is no monetization strategy for publishers to benefit from using the new Messenger publication system, however, Facebook is reportedly planning to allow businesses to pay in order to message individuals who have already engaged in conversations with the company. This means that publishers could potentially leverage this opportunity to gain revenue through selling sponsored messages to businesses that the publisher would then distribute. But again, this is only hypothetical — there are currently no plans for publishers to earn revenue from Messenger. But that certainly doesn’t mean it’s not a powerful new tool.

While all of the potential benefits from this update, monetary or otherwise, remain to be seen, it’s clear your business will benefit from opting-in to publishing through Messenger. Facebook could very well unveil a monetization strategy at F8 in mid-April. In any case, your brand now (or will shortly) have the opportunity to drive website visits through the messaging application; just make sure your content is worth sharing.


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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

How to Optimize Business Page Clicks Using Semantic SEO

 

SEO-Tips

If you are into blogging and online article writing, then the terms ‘Semantics’ and ‘Search Engine Optimization’ are familiar to you.

For the benefit of those who have just made their foray into the virtual world of blog posts and write ups, here’s a simple definition to start: Dictionaries define the term semantics as ‘the meaning and interpretation of a word, sign or sentence.’ Still ambiguous? Semantics is basically how a particular word, term or phrase is interpreted. Let me give you an example. When I say the word ‘Apple,’ what is the first thing that comes to your mind? While one person may think of the fruit, another may associate it with the technology giant. Get the picture?

Search engines like Bing and Google come with a set of algorithms that help to interpret such words and terms. Once entered, these search engines come up with topics and articles closely related to the word punched in. Being specific is what helps here. For example, if the query or research has something to do with a product from the Apple brand, it must be clearly stated – ‘Apple iPhone next launch’ or ‘Apple iPhone 6S features.’ Being specific will help these search engines throw up data that is closely related to the intended topic.


Semantic SEO research: Is it necessary?
The Web. Yes, that’s the reason. Companies, business entrepreneurs, and clients understand that no longer is an organization or business bound by its physical presence. Moreover, the market is stiff and, to reach out to customers, a brand has to go beyond its physical address. In this case, the Internet is the best tool to reach out to the masses. But how does one stand out in the crowd? How do the client’s business webpage and social media profile score over others? Here’s where the usage of SEO (a term or phrase that helps in optimizing search results) comes into play. Usage of SEO will help in improving search engine ranking.

A search engine is said to have the thinking abilities of that of a six-year-old. Therefore, it will throw up information based on what it is fed. Semantic SEO research helps in coming up with phrases and terms that when fed to search engines, provides results that are not general in nature. Semantic SEO goes a step further to understand the relationship and interdependency of the words and phrases used, how they work together in a sentence and thus provides better search results. It takes the context of the words into consideration and also provides supportive and related terms. Who will do all the research? How can a virtual assistant help? This is definitely a task that can be outsourced to a virtual assistant.

The most important factor is that it improves viewership. This is something that all websites want and need. The more clicks a website gets, the better it’s Google ranking. This translates into good business and popularity. Businesses these days work hard to improve search engine ranking.


Semantic SEO and the Virtual Assistant
Judging by the nature of this article, clients understand the importance of improving and attracting traffic to their webpages and social media profiles. This understanding brings more customer clicks and the system of Google ranking helps in the understanding of semantic SEO. The million-dollar question here is whether they have the time to do such integrated research that will help with all of the above? Not in 100 moons! Turning over the responsibility to a virtual assistant is the best option. Seasoned writers know how to improve SEO. Here’s how a virtual assistant can help when it comes to research and meeting SEO goals. Once provided with the work, a virtual assistant will go through the task so as to understand the nature of the task. He/ she will work on targeting the audience segment specified by the client. Having chewed on and digested the task, the next step would involve coming up with a list of core words that will help enhance the work. With this in place, the virtual assistant will delve deep into his/her weaponry to provide quality work that comes loaded with strategically placed keywords and terms. This optimizes the availability of the client’s page/work when searched on the Internet.


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Friday, March 18, 2016

Will Google’s SERP Update Affect Your Business?

 

OGB-INSIDER-BLOGS-GoogleLogox2-Animated



“I believe that this will affect every single one of AdWords advertisers.”
This quote comes from Tom Sadler, sales and marketing director for Indago Digital, a digital marketing agency that specializes in running acquisition campaigns. Mark these words.

Google has marketers, advertisers and small business owners everywhere shaking in their boots with the announcement to remove right-side ads from the SERPs; the only exception to this is product ads. This effectively limits the number of ads displayed from 11 down to seven, which will now only be seen at the top and bottom of organic results.

Google is well-known for its dynamic nature; constant algorithm changes, shifts toward mobile-friendly formats, and even the recent updates to its logo. But the latest in Google’s long string of modifications has left many puzzled, worried and even angered by the news.

How does this impact organic search? How will this disrupt your business? Will text ads cost more now? What can you do about the changes? Will you need to modify marketing strategies? The list of fearful queries is substantial. So let’s dive into the answers.


Why the Change?
Before this shift took place, search ads would appear in three destinations on the results page; above, below, and to the right of organic results. Now with the right-side ads disappearing, this has significantly shrunk the allotted number of ads spaces for companies to compete over. It has been stated, however, that in certain cases the number of ads that appear above the organic listings will increase from three to four. This will only happen in instances Google calls “high commercial queries,” which indicates that the engine has determined the user’s intention to purchase is quite high.
The reason for this shift is twofold. The first is to provide a cleaner and less hectic user experience; optimal UX is something Google is always striving to achieve. The second is to provide a more consistent experience and appearance between desktop and mobile versions of the site.

This should come as no surprise — Google has been pushing the importance of mobile heavily over the past year. This focus is quite understandable — last year saw the amount of mobile search queries surpass those from desktops. From this perspective, it would seem that Google is pushing hard on a mobile-first initiative.

For those that are distraught over the loss of right-side ads, worry not. A recent study from WordStream revealed a mere 14.6 percent of clicks were attained by the side and bottom ads combined during January of this year. These are truthfully not super useful to begin with. With that said, let’s take a look at how this decision is set to effect businesses the Web over.


The Potential Impact
The shakeup will most certainly effect business owners, marketers and anyone else who utilizes the ad space on Google; the question is, to what degree? The most notable of the ramifications will likely come through organic search results. The addition of a fourth ad placed above organic results will ultimately push those listings further down the page, making them less likely to receive traffic. The lower a site ranks on Google’s first page, the fewer clicks it naturally draws; the addition of a fourth ad presents a significant handicap to those looking to win the organic search wars. With the addition on local listings appearing just below ads, the No. 1 seat in the SERP barely makes it above the fold, and in some cases, it may not at all.

But the complications don’t end there, as other disadvantages to the new layout will likely surface. Tien Nguyen, director of technology at CPC Strategy, touched on this by saying, “It’s going to potentially start costing a lot more to get your text ad to show, so smaller companies are going to be squeezed out a lot more to compete with companies with bigger ad budgets.” While this possibility may never come to fruition with the addition of the forth ad slot, it is still a frightening forecast for small business owners. So how can entrepreneurs combat the potentially devastating effects taking place in the SERPs?


Offsetting the Damage
If your company does not have the means to increase its AdWords budget, it may be time to consider using an alternative route to obtain clicks.

Social media is a massive driving force for engagement, traffic generation and sales. To help balance out the loss of advertising on Google’s front page, brands should amplify social strategies to get the absolute most out of what Facebook, Twitter, and others have to offer. Additionally, live streaming services like Periscope and Blab.im are an incredible way to help boost social followings and create a deeply devoted customer base.

Alongside those video options, brands should take advantage of the latest tools that AdWords has to offer. With compelling new options for YouTube advertising, many brands may actually be getting a jump on the competition by focusing resources on the video platform; YouTube is, after all, the second largest search engine on the Web and processes more than three billion searches per month. Couple that with Cisco’s prediction that video will account for 80 percent of all consumer internet traffic in 2019, and you have a recipe for success.

While it is still unclear exactly how this change will impact companies, it certainly does seem that small business are getting the short end of the stick. In the time it takes Google to make all the final tweaks and adjustments, stay calm and know that there are other alternatives for your brand to successfully advertise itself on the Web.

Do you think the removal of right-side ads will negatively affect consumers or Google itself? What other consequences of this alteration do you foresee for small businesses?


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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

5 Ways Whitepapers Can Aid Your Online Presence

 

Image courtesy of (jscreationzs)/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
 


If you’re like most marketers, you’re probably missing out on the benefits of whitepapers.
For years, whitepapers have been the often-forgotten utilitarian workhorses of the content marketing industry – seen as a necessity for in-house education rather than a powerful tool for marketing and sales. Fortunately, the use of whitepapers goes far beyond in-depth analysis. In fact, whitepapers can actually be used as a powerful marketing tool that can help your company expand its online presence. Here’s what you need to know:


What are Whitepapers?
The definition and use of whitepapers vary heavily from industry to industry. As a general rule, however, a whitepaper is an involved report that covers a specific topic. The purpose of a whitepaper is to explore a problem and, eventually, to provide a solution. Whitepapers are used for the purpose of education and are popular among marketers who want to educate their audiences about a specific topic or offer in-depth insight on a particular tactic or approach for dealing with it. The following industry standards apply to whitepapers:
  • Whitepapers are generally at least six pages in length, including all visuals. Can be 50 pages or longer for very deep topics.
  • Whitepapers are structured like reports, with a title page, contents page, summary, introduction, and body content.
  • Whitepapers are meant to discuss denser topics than would be discussed in an eBook and are designed to cater to high-level readers.
  • Whitepapers are PDFs.
  • Whitepapers feature expert writing and graphic design.

How to Use Whitepapers to Boost your Web Presence


1. Use an in-Depth Whitepaper to Generate Leads
Because whitepapers take a great deal of time, effort, and research to put together, they’re a fantastic option for gaining leads and providing users with relevant and valuable content. A great example of the way many companies use whitepapers is to incentivize signups for email lists or webinars.
While it’s easy to use virtually any type of content (an eBook, for example) for this purpose, a whitepaper stands out due to its expert nature. Because a whitepaper is typically denser and more specialized than an eBook, the type of customer who signs up to receive it will generally be more advanced and knowledgeable. Because of this, whitepapers can actually help generate more qualified leads and higher conversion rates.

Another great way to use a whitepaper to generate leads and produce conversions is to use it as the foundation for a series of blog posts. For example, if you ran a “how to” blogging website and often wrote about WordPress and how users could use the platform to create a free blog or website, you could easily create a whitepaper that answered the problem of navigating WordPress plugins. By serializing dense topics and encouraging your readers to download the whitepaper within each blog, it’s easy to entice readers to engage with your content.


2. Use Whitepapers to add Value to a Landing Page
Every great landing page needs a focal point and a white paper does the job beautifully. Adding a focused, well-written whitepaper to an optimized landing page is a fantastic way to add value to your promotional campaign while also helping your readers find the answers to the questions they’re struggling with. Ideal for targeting your content to a specific audience or catering to customers at a specific point of the sales funnel, placing a valuable white paper on a landing page can truly work magic for your company.


3. Distribute Whitepapers in Email Marketing
When you use email to disperse valuable content to your subscribers, it can be an amazingly effective way to generate more leads, conversions, and traffic for your business. All too often, however, the content of emails falls short by failing to provide enough value and interest for customers.
Fortunately, however, whitepapers can change that. By offering whitepapers to your target audience in the form of marketing e-mails, you can provide your readers with value and give them a reason to engage with other aspects of your company or services.


4. Publish Links to Your Whitepaper on Social Media
If you’re a part of a social media group, you know how important it is to interact by offering valuable content and relevant industry information. A whitepaper is a great way to participate meaningfully in the conversation of a niche-specific group while also offering value for the other readers in the group. By publishing links to your whitepaper on Twitter and Facebook and in any private social media groups you may be involved with, you can provide your readers with more value and drive more conversions for your site.


5. Use Your Whitepaper as the Basis for Other Content
If you thought a whitepaper was only good as a whitepaper, think again. A whitepaper can easily be turned into a webinar or a podcast in order to appeal to a wider base of your target audience. Because some of your audience likely prefer information in the form of a visual or audio presentation rather than text-based formats, it’s easy to grab more viewers when you convert your whitepaper’s content into a webinar or something similar. This allows you to get more leverage from your whitepaper while also encouraging more conversions.

Another thing to keep in mind is that your whitepaper can be used as a foundation for content packages. If you’ve followed the above steps, you’ve created a package of valuable content that can easily be distributed to your customers. To get the maximum level of value possible from this package, consider offering it all in a centralized location. For example, you can make a landing page and distribute all of the content related to your whitepaper — including blogs, podcasts, and visuals — in one place This will provide outstanding value to highly qualified leads and can help your company earn more conversions.


Conclusion
While whitepapers are not often regarded as a highly potent form of marketing content, they are. Marketers who use whitepapers correctly can easily increase their leads, earn more conversions, and market themselves effectively across the web. From social media to email marketing, whitepapers are a powerful tool for expanding your online presence.


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