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Twitter _ Politics Operation Manual


  • pg 1
									Twitter & Politics Operation Manual

   Twitter & Politics: Operation Manual

>> Launched in July 2006 by Jack Dorsey as a microblogging service,
Twitter has expanded beyond its original intent into a powerful platform which rivals
Facebook in scope. Twitter’s defining characteristic is the limitation of 140 characters
per tweet, or status update. Because of its short-message limitation, Twitter has
evolved into a powerful information sharing and social networking tool. Its growth has
been phenomenal—as of June 2011 Twitter adds an average of 500K new accounts
per day. Visibility is extraordinarily high—92% of Americans are aware of Twitter and
13% actively use it. Because viewing public tweets does not require the creation of an
account, Twitter has more spectators than participants. The future looks bright for
Twitter as it leaves the early
adoption stage of the technology
life cycle and becomes
increasingly integrated with
                                        ” 92% of Americans are
mainstream culture.                       aware of Twitter and
                                          13% actively use it.”
Crash Course
>> For those unfamiliar
with Twitter, there are some need-to-know basics that will greatly aid in
understanding the Twitter environment.

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   Crash Course Section One

>> Twitter combines elements from three forms of modern communication:
television, blogging, and texting.
                                                        tweets by @replying (sending a public message)
            Twitter Element: Television
                                                        or by retweeting (attributing then copying a tweet
                                                        into their own timeline). This Interactivity is what
            Twitter distinguishes between friends       makes Twitter compelling. Also, it is through this
            and followers. A ”friend” is a mutual,      interactivity that the reach of any given tweeter,
two-way connection and a ”follower” is a one-way        even one with relatively few followers, can greatly
connection. A friend connection indicates tweets        expand—given the right circumstances.
from each tweeter will appear each timeline. A
follower connection indicates the tweets from the                   Twitter Element: Succinct
followed tweeter will appear in the timeline of the                 Texting
tweeter doing the following. The Twitter follower,
                                                                    In 1985 the first Global Communication
similar to the television viewer, the radio listener,
                                                                    Standards (GSM) were adopted to
and the blog reader, has chosen to receive the
                                                        ensure compatibility between telecommunication
tweets of the followed.
                                                        networks. One the standards adopted was Short
Like television, Twitter also has multimedia
                                                        Message Service (SMS), which is now known as
capability. Photos, video/audio clips, and live
                                                        texting. Such messages needed to fit into existing
streaming video/audio can all be accessed by
                                                        telephony signaling formats, so engineers created a
tweeters directly from the twitter web interface.
                                                        140-byte-per-message constraint. This constraint
Unlike television, competition for follower attention
                                                        proved advantageous when texting became
is relentless and often frenetic. Timelines update
                                                        popular in the late 1990s because it forced texters
with other tweeters’ tweets rapidly; a tweet can
                                                        to be creative and succinct when composing text
become stale in mere seconds depending on the
                                                        messages. But, after a decade of one-to-one
pace of traffic from other tweeters.
                                                        texting, Twitter’s creators recognized the value
                                                        of allowing the transmission of SMS messages
               Twitter Element:                         to stored groups of recipients. The original intent
               Interactive Blogging                     of Twitter was to provide a way for mobile phone
                                                        users to effortlessly update all of their friends
               Blogs evolved from early online
                                                        simultaneously, instead of individually. Although
communities such as bulletin board systems and
                                                        Twitter has now strayed from its original intent, the
discussion forums. Like those early communities,
                                                        short message constraint still promotes succinct,
blogging is interactive – the blogger posts content
                                                        efficient conversation. This type of conversation
in reverse-chronological order and readers are free
                                                        harmonizes well with our time-constrained
to post comments. Tweeters can react to others’
                                                        modern world.
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Crash Course Section Two
>> Twitter has six attributes that are essential to producing a successful Twitter
operation: high velocity, short lifespan, event driven, multi-linear exponential
dissemination, level playing field, and reputation.

          1              Because tweets are quick and easy to compose, the speed at which
                         information travels on Twitter is much faster than other forms of Internet
                         and traditional communication. One of the most extreme examples of
 Attribute:              Twitter’s velocity is this single tweet from Keith Urbahn, Donald Rumsfeld’s
          High           Chief of Staff, which broke the news of Osama bin Laden’s death.
       Velocity          Keith’s tweet spread at a staggering rate partly due to his connection with
                         New York Times reporter Brian Stelter, who promptly retweeted Keith’s
                         tweet. Within five minutes the number of mentions of Osama bin Laden
                         skyrocketed and Twitter became the first medium—ahead of the traditional
                         press and online media—to break the news of bin Laden’s death at the
                         hands of US forces. Soon after, tweets mentioning Osama bin Laden
                         peaked at a jaw-dropping 17.72% of all Twitter traffic. The more compelling
                         the tweet, the faster and farther it will be disseminated.

           2             Twitter’s pace has an undeniably frantic quality. Because tweets are quickly
                         replaced by other tweets from other tweeters, the average tweet has a
                         very limited lifespan. That lifespan can be anywhere from 2 seconds to 10
                         minutes or longer, depending on the circumstances. Even Twitter’s own
                         search engine does not index tweets beyond 72 hours because of the sheer
  Attribute:             volume of tweets. Remaining active is essential to optimal performance.
                         A tweeter is considered ”active” when they tweet 20-22 tweets per day;
                         tweeting more frequently (with quality tweets) will serve to increase
                         Twitter presence. Conversely, tweeting too frequently will lead to loss of
                         influence and decreased presence. A balanced approach toward handling
                         velocity is best.

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                 Twitter’s high velocity and short lifespan make it highly responsive to
                 current events. If something significant is happening, someone is tweeting
                 about it. Tweeters who join Twitter during a significant event are more likely
                 to become long-term adopters because its value is clearly demonstrated.
  Twitter        Perhaps the best example of this value comes from Twitter itself. Although

Attribute:       it was launched in July 2006, Twitter did not gain true popularity until its
                 usefulness was demonstrated in March 2007 during the SXSW conference.
      Event      Via Wikipedia:
                       During the event, Twitter usage increased from 20,000 tweets per
                       day to 60,000. ”The Twitter people cleverly placed two 60-inch
                       plasma screens in the conference hallways, exclusively streaming
                       Twitter messages,” remarked Newsweek’s Steven Levy. ”Hundreds
                       of conference-goers kept tabs on each other via constant twitters.
                       Panelists and speakers mentioned the service, and the bloggers in
                       attendance touted it.”

                 This clever demonstration of usefulness by the Twitter team is perhaps the
                 singular event that truly began its meteoric rise to social media stardom.
                 Twitter goes hand-in-hand with events large and small because events
                 normally happen apart from our everyday workstations—when mobility is
                 necessary. Tweeters get hooked because Twitter will also be useful for the
                 next event, expected or unexpected.

                 On each profile, Tweets are arranged in a simple linear timeline, with the
                 most recent tweet at the top. When a tweet is tweeted, not only does it
                 appear in the originator’s timeline, it appears in the timelines of every
                 follower. If a hashtag ( a word with the ‘#’ symbol at the beginning) is used

   Twitter       the tweet also appears in the hashtag timeline. If a third-party application
                 captures the tweet it can appear in the timeline of the application. If the
 Attribute:      tweet is retweeted, it appears in the timelines of every follower of the
                 tweeter who retweeted it. If the tweet is then retweeted by a follower of the
                 tweeter who retweeted it, it appears in the timelines of the followers of that
                 tweeter, etc.
   ...Woohoo!    Simplified, a tweet has the potential to exponentially spread to multiple
                 timelines and be read by a very large audience.

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                Even the most engaged followers will not read every tweet and fewer
                still will respond, which mitigates the potential reach of any given
                tweet. Because a small percentage of followers ever see a given tweet,
                occasionally repeating similar (but never identical!) tweets is advisable if
                the tweet is especially compelling or important.

                Because of both its features and
                limitations, Twitter nearly eliminates
                normal barriers to social interaction.
                Famous celebrities can safely trade

  Twitter       messages with fans who would not
                otherwise have had the opportunity.
Attribute:      Busy politicians can have brief, efficient
Level Playing   conversations with voters who may
        Field   have otherwise been frustrated by the
                lack of attention to their concerns.

                Over time, Twitter followers will inevitably make observations and
                judgments about tweeters they follow and reputations will be formed.
                Acquiring and maintaining a good Twitter reputation will increase trust and
                lead to greater authority. Some basic tips that many neglect:

 Attribute:       •	Have a complete, polished profile

                  •	Adopt a positive, stable tone
                  •	Tweet regularly and reply as much as possible

                Twitter is a political arena; the normal rules of politics apply when it comes
                to the defense of one’s reputation. Before responding to an attack, check
                the statistics of the tweeters involved to determine their level of influence.

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                                   Twitter: Enhanced Experience
                                   >>There are four ways in which the Twitter experience is
                                   enhanced beyond 140 characters.

1. Acronyms – What happens when a 140 character         3. URL Shorteners – There are a myriad of URL
limit is combined with the human aversion toward        shorteners available, but few are truly full-featured.
language redundancy? Using acronyms is standard
                                                         •	Use either goo.gl or bit.ly. Both services
practice on Twitter. The most common acronyms are
                                                         offer click statistics and both are exceptionally
                                                         stable and well-known. Using an unknown URL
   RT = Retweet             b/c = Because                shortener will give tweeters pause because
   HT = Hat Tip             FF = Follow                  Twitter spammers will often use them.

   MT = Modified            Friday                       •	Su.pr is also a good alternative because it ties
   Tweet                    j/k = Just                   into Stumble Upon’s network; the top-of-the-page

   DM = Direct              Kidding                      toolbar may be off-putting to some tweeters,
                                                         though. Stumble Upon is a popular social sharing
   Message                  NSFW = Not
   BTW = By The             Safe For Work
                                                         •	Do not use deck.ly, Twitlonger, or other tweet
   Way                      TMI = Too
                                                         expander services. In terms of etiquette, being
   IMO = In My              Much
                                                         required to click on a URL and load another
   Opinion                  Information
                                                         website simply to read a single tweet is too much
   IMHO = In                TY = Thank                   to ask of most Tweeters.
   My Honest/               You
   Humble                                               4. Multimedia Sharing – Below is a list of embedded
   Opinion                                              display media. ”Embedded” means these services
                                                        will display in the right-hand pane on the Twitter
2. Hashtags – terms preceded by the hash symbol         website when the appropriate URL is tweeted. To
(#). For Example: #tcot                                 streamline your Twitter operation, use Twitvid for
                                                        video AND picture sharing.
 •	Hashtags are indexed by Twitter and displayed
 as an auto-search link in the tweet.                    •	Photo Sharing: Dailybooth, Flickr, Lockerz,
                                                         Twitgoo, Twitpic, yfrog
 •	Using more than three hashtags per tweet is
 inadvisable, using 0 – 2 hashtags per tweet is          •	Video Sharing: Vimeo, YouTube
 standard practice.
                                                         •	Photo AND Video Sharing: Twitvid
 •	”#fb” and ”#in” are special-use hashtags which
                                                         •	Live Video Streaming: USTREAM, Justin.tv
 can automatically post to Facebook or LinkedIn if
 the accounts have been previously linked to Twitter.   Choose primary goals. Knowing
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Twitter Operation: Initial Setup
Producing a twitter operation requires some setup.

                  Choose primary goals. Knowing the desired outcome
                  aids good decision-making. Common political goals are:
                      a.   Raising the public profile
                      b.   Defending/advocating a policy position
                      c.   Facilitating communication with the press
                      d.   Facilitating communication with constituents/voters

        2         Consider persona strategy. Understanding the Twitter
                  environment covered in the Crash Course is essential
                  to developing a persona strategy. Primary persona
                  strategies (courtesy of Klout) are:
                      a.   Observer – casually listening
                      b.   Explorer – new, actively engaged
                      c.   Dabbler – occasionally engaged
                      d.   Conversationalist – consistently connecting
                      e.   Activist – advocate for a cause
                      f.   Socializer – socially savvy, constantly connecting
                      g.   Specialist – highly focused on a specific topic, engaged audience
                      h. Networker – highly connected, highly engaged audience
                      i.   Syndicator – narrow topic, cater to a defined audience
                      j.   Feeder – narrow topic, engaged audience
                      k.   Curator – providing valuable content-filtering to engaged audience
                      l.   Broadcaster – valuable content, highly engaged audience
                      m. Thought Leader – content and opinion, engaged audience
                      n. Pundit – mostly opinion, highly engaged audience
                      o.   Taste Maker – content filtering to highly engaged audience
                      p.   Celebrity – apex of influence on Twitter

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3      Assemble a toolkit:
          a.   Tweet scheduler: timing greatly affects the impact of each tweet.
          b.   Follower manager: whichever following strategy you choose, efficient
               management is a necessity.
          c.   Analytics provider: without an analytics provider, evaluation and improvement all
               but impossible.
          d.   Trend monitor: being aware of and able to adapt to current events will give the
               operation a significant advantage.
          e.   Multimedia sharing tools: select and be prepared to make full use of Twitter’s
               multimedia capabilities.

4      Establish a content reservoir:
               Select an RSS reader. Organize blog, video and website feeds.
               Pre-tweet. Create a stock of tweets based on likely and/or possible scenarios
               Convert all pre-existing scripts from the political playbook into stock tweets.
          d.   Use Twitter lists (see 7).

5      In addition to The Narrative (next section), choose five
       adjectives which describe the personality of the tweeter,
       then use as a quick reference when tweeting.

6      Create Twitter Account and Profile:

               Username: Treat it as a brand name, choose something easily identifiable.
               Bio: Use positive, active descriptors. Show personality, it reveals humanity. Avoid
               overused terms, if possible.
               Background: Do not use the default backgrounds. Use the otherwise-dead space
               on the left-hand side of the Twitter profile page by having a custom background
               with pertinent information.
          d.   Location: City, State format is standard practice.
          e.   Website: Use a campaign or organization website. Do not leave blank; put
               something, even if it’s just a Facebook or LinkedIn Profile.

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                       Create Lists. Lists give the ability to group tweeters
                       together and track their tweets separately from the
                       main timeline. Any tweeter can be added to a list, even
                       tweeters who are not being followed.
                           a.   Create a list of tweeters whose tweets are valuable and can be added to the
                                content reservoir.
                           b.   Create a list of tweeters who you wish to influence.
                           c.   Create a list of tweeters who are useful to potential voters.
                           d.   Create a list that is fun, interesting, whimsical, funny, etc.

                       Extra-Twitter Promotion.
                           a.   Promote your Twitter account utilizing websites, Facebook, printed materials, and
                                all other media.
                           b.   Whenever speaking to a member of the press or a voter/constituent, consider
                                asking for their Twitter username.

          9            Begin Monitoring:
                                Watch the popular political hashtags: #tcot, #p2, #teaparty, etc.
                                Watch local hashtags: #NH, #IA, #Boston, #Miami
                                Watch Twitter accounts of selected pundits and other Twitter influencers.
                           d.   Watch @mentions
                           e.   Watch selected lists
                           f.   Watch Direct Messages

The Narrative
Understanding that Twitter is a storytelling tool is critical to a successful Twitter production. The managed
elements of Twitter, such as bio, background, profile pic, and especially the tweets themselves, fuse into
a story absorbed by the Twitter audience. We highly recommend writing a personal or organizational
narrative, keeping in mind the high-velocity/short-lifespan/event-driven nature of Twitter. The narrative
gives the Twitter production its foundation. Being familiar with the narrative will encourage confident
and consistent engagement by the tweeter and by production staff. The absence of a written narrative
will impair the operation and increase the chances of a careless tweet being released. As the operation
progresses, allow the narrative to evolve—tweak and alter it as needed.

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Twitter Operation:                                      •	Select and modify pre-tweets as needed

Following the Cycle                                     •	Schedule content tweets

After the initial setup is complete, the Twitter                          Engage
operation can commence. Every media production
follows a cycle, and Twitter is no different. The     Absent its compelling conversation, Twitter would
Twitter Production Cycle (TPC) consists of three      lose significant value. After all, Twitter is an
stages: Prepare, Engage, and Evaluate.                extension of human social activity; principles that
                                                      work face-to-face also work on Twitter. The best
The TPC is intended as an overall guideline to help
                                                      way to acquire and maintain influence is to be
focus a Twitter production. Twitter is a fast-paced
                                                      engaged and stay engaged.
dynamic environment that demands adaptation
and quick thinking. Many times evaluation is
required in the middle of engagement of a tweeter,    Building Goodwill
or a quick engagement is necessary to complete
                                                      Every kind of tweeter, from observer to celebrity,
preparations, for which the TPC must account.
                                                      can benefit from engaging with the intent to benefit
The following graphic illustrates the workflow of
                                                      others. Retweeting those you follow, tweeting
the TPC:
                                                      words of encouragement, and asking questions
                                                      are all ways to connect with other tweeters. Even a
                                                      casual ”TY” @reply can carry a lot of weight. One of
                                                      the most effective ways to generate attention is to

                                                      give others your attention. On Twitter, giving is as

                                                      good as getting.
                                                      Starting Conversations
                                                      Asking a question is, by far, the most effective way
                                                      to start a conversation. Questions are compelling;
                      Pre p are
                                                      many people feel an obligation to answer
                                                      because they are willing to share their knowledge
                                                      and opinion.

                                                      Though they are less compelling than questions,
                  Prepare                             making comments at another Tweeter can also be
                                                      an effective conversation starter.
  •	Quick-review steps in Initial Setup

  •	Monitor current events, news developments,
  trending topics, etc.

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                                                           Tweet regularly. Not only does it give an air of
                                                           authority and stability; it helps keep your twitter
                                                           feed from going stale. As a rule of thumb, tweet
                                                           at minimum of 12 tweets/day. Tweeting often
                                                           is encouraged; tweeting 13 – 40 tweets/day
                                                           is considered highly active. However, tweeting
                                                           too often can also have a detrimental effect.
                                                           Theoretically there is no upper limit, but one of
                                                           the most common reasons cited for un-following
                                                           is “too much noise.” Tweeting more than 100
                                                           tweets/day is not recommended unless there are
                                                           extenuating circumstances.

@Replying                                                  Twitter Trolls
It is good etiquette to @reply if another tweeter          The public, semi-anonymous environment on
@mentions you in a tweet. However, it’s not                Twitter creates an irresistible opportunity for
necessary to reply to every tweet. Reply to                the darker side of humanity to emerge. Further,
tweets @mentioning you that will add value                 because politics is an emotionally volatile subject,
to your timeline.                                          some tweeters will be ugly, crass, boorish, base and
                                                           generally unkind. It’s usually best to completely
  •	Tweets with a username at the beginning of
                                                           ignore these tweeters; do not acknowledge their
  a tweet (@username) will only be broadcast to
                                                           existence. Of course, mortal threats should always
  followers who also follow that tweeter.
                                                           be handled by the proper authorities. If you are
  •	To broadcast an @reply to all followers, put a
                                                           ever threatened on Twitter, contact the FBI or the
  nondescript character in front of the username,
                                                           appropriate law enforcement officials.
  such as a period (.).

  •	The ‘@reply’ and ‘@mention’ terms are used             Direct Messaging
  interchangeably—they technically have the same
                                                           Depending on your follower strategy, you can DM
                                                           new followers that you’ve followed back. Do not

Broadcasting                                               use automated DM messages; they will likely be
                                                           perceived as spam.
A tweet is a broadcast if it is intended for all of your
If the tweet is timed well and is compelling enough
it will generate @mentions and Retweets.

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Strategic Following                                      Eight possible following scenarios
                                                         (bold is from your perspective):
Hollywood celebrities have it easy on Twitter. They
are sought out, followed, and their voices amplified     Follow > Followed Back: You initiate, the other
without any real effort on their part. This ideal        person sees your value and follows you.
situation does not exist for everyone else, of course,
                                                         Follow > Not Followed Back: Not ideal, but still adds
but there is a lesson to be learned: followers seek
                                                         value if you followed wisely in the first place.
value. One reason celebrities acquire followers so
                                                         Follow > Unfollow: Sometimes it’s necessary
easily is that their followers want to ”be a part of
                                                         to unfollow when someone you’re following
it,” to add value to themselves. This lesson applies
                                                         diminishes in value.
when you reach out and begin to follow others on
Twitter. What do you want to ”be a part” of? And, of     Follow > Blocked: Occasionally following someone
equal importance: what would you rather not be a         elicits a strong negative reaction and they
part of? The act of following is about adding value      block you.
to your Twitter profile. Politicians—incumbents and
                                                         Followed > Follow Back: Your follower becomes
challengers—automatically gain some leverage by
                                                         your friend and can send you Direct Messages.
merely having a presence on Twitter, even those
                                                         Followed > Not Followed Back: You appreciate the
who are relatively unknown.
                                                         follow, but the tweeter is not valuable enough to
Following others is a good way to increase
                                                         warrant following.
your influence and introduce yourself to new
                                                         Followed > Unfollowed: In at least one Tweeter’s
constituents. Candidates and political organizations
                                                         opinion, you’re no longer worth following
that are well-known outside of Twitter should
have a relaxed following strategy. Candidates            Followed > Block: Spammers are the most frequent
and political organizations that are less-known          target of blocks, but sometimes it’s necessary for
outside of Twitter should have a more aggressive         unreasonable or undesirable tweeters.
following strategy.
                                                         Other factors to consider when
Less Known                          More Known           following:
                                                           •	Keep your friend-to-follower ratio as low as
                                                           possible. Friend-to-follower ratio is calculated
                                                           by dividing number of tweeters you follow by the
Follow More                         Follow Fewer
                                                           number of tweeters who follow you. Do not to go
                                                           over 105%. Would you want to follow someone
                                                           who is following 1000 tweeters, but only has 250

                                                           •	Build your following gradually. If you follow too
                                                           many tweeters too quickly the quality of your

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followers will likely suffer. The most desirable                      Evaluate
followers are often the ones who are the most
skeptical and observant.                             Evaluation is the stage where operational
                                                     performance is analyzed. Having good analysis
•	For politicians, engaging with tweeters is
                                                     tools is vital. There are hundreds of apps that
similar to campaigning. Most actions that you’d
                                                     evaluate performance. OneForty.com has the most
take on the campaign trail you could also take
                                                     comprehensive list of Twitter apps available on
on Twitter.
                                                     the web.
•	The game is changing. Treating Twitter as a
press release channel will do nothing to help your
campaign and may actually harm it. Nearly ALL
                                                          Common evaluation tools are:
pundits, influencers, taste makers, networkers,            •	Klout                 •	TweetGrader
and thought leaders are on Twitter watching—
                                                           •	Peerindex             •	TweetStats
and commenting with catchy 140 character
sound bites! Failing to engage with them and
                                                           •	Twitalyzer            •	Tweetwhen
with potential voters is a missed opportunity.
Twitter is fast becoming a political arena that
                                                     Periodic evaluation promotes incremental
can’t be ignored.
                                                     improvements in a Twitter operation. Evaluate
                                                     each decision and adjust if necessary. Over time,
                                                     small tweaks add up to a customized, effective and
   ”Technology                                       influential production.
    is always
    evolving.”                                       The Best ”Best Practice”
                                                     Technology is always evolving. This is an obvious,
                                                     but essential-to-remember statement. Like
                                                     Facebook, Google, and all internet-related services,
                                                     Twitter is forever in flux. It changes quickly and
                                                     constantly, perhaps more than most other services.
                                                     Therefore, when using Twitter the best ”best
                                                     practice” to master is adaptation. What works
                                                     one day on Twitter will not necessarily work the
                                                     next. Twitter may change the rules, tweeters may
                                                     change their behavior, or a major crisis may utterly
                                                     dominate at a moment’s notice.

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