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    The Benefits of Data-Driven Decision Making

    According to recent research by IDG Enterprise, more than half of (53%)  decision-makers at enterprises reported that their company was currently planning on implementing a data-driven project of some sort in the near future. The same study also found that 78% of individuals surveyed felt that the analysis of data for decision-making would “fundamentally change the way their company does business”. Furthermore, 71% of these same respondents also felt that this endeavor would create additional revenue streams and opportunities for business within just a few years.

    If these statistics show us anything, it’s that more and more companies looking to achieve success in today’s business landscape are beginning to see the value in data and the profound impact it can have on the decision-making process. It’s easy to understand why. Companies who adopt a data driven approach report not just higher profits, but also higher productivity than those who don’t. If you’re currently interested in learning more about data-driven decision making and how it can benefit your company, then this article will serve as a great resource to help educate and inform you on the concept.

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    What is data-driven decision making (DDDM)?

    Data-driven decision making (also referred to as DDDM), is the process of gathering and analyzing data for the purposes of using the insights gained to influence important business decisions. Data-driven decision making is more than just simply browsing through website analytics or sales and customer data to get a feel for what future steps should be taken. It involves the creation of a systematic approach to data collection, analysis and implementation of data-driven decisions, as well as an investment in quality tools and skills in order to facilitate this approach.

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    Why make data-driven decisions?

    Data-driven decision making is superior to other forms of decision making because it ensures that decisions are based on logic and reasoning as well as supported by numerical evidence. Without the use of data to inform decisions, decision makers run the risk of being subconsciously influenced by factors such as bias, external stimuli such as the opinions/demands of others, or acting on assumptions, gut-feeling or theory.

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    The benefits of data-driven decision making

    There are numerous benefits to using data to influence the decision-making process. Data-driven decision making is beneficial because:

    • It is objective. Data-driven decision making relies on statistics and numerical data and as a result is an objective process.
    • It can be easily evaluated. The great thing about data-driven decision making is that it can be easily evaluated based on how the implementation of certain decisions impact various metrics.
    • It facilitates greater control. With data-driven decision making you gain greater control over the direction of your business and the quality of your decisions. This is because it is based on objective data, concrete evidence and results can be effectively measured in order to assess impact.
    • It increases agility. When data is influencing the decision making process, companies become more agile. They are able to detect new business opportunities sooner, identify issues more quickly (and at times even proactively), as well as respond to market changes more swiftly.
    • It promotes greater transparency/accountability. Data-driven decision making is based on objective data and numerical information and as a result, facilitates greater transparency and accountability with regards to the decision making process.

    As you can see, data-driven decision making provides businesses with numerous benefits which can have a profound impact on everything from business operations to customer service, sales, growth and expansion. Furthermore, it is extremely versatile and can be implemented in virtually any area of your business where you are seeking improvement.

     

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    Implementing a data-driven approach

    There are essentially five steps to implementing a data-driven approach to decision making. These steps will provide you with a guideline when it comes to building a systematic method that integrates well with your current business model.

    1. Define your goal. The first step is defining your objective. What is it that you wish to accomplish with data-driven decision making? Are you seeking greater sales? More efficient operations? Increased customer retention rates or an improved customer experience? Whatever the goal may be, it needs to be defined, focused, documented and communicated with your team in order to lay the groundwork for success. Communicating with members of your organization about the importance of this approach also helps to establish the right culture and shared values necessary in order to be truly effective. Remember, it’s a team effort, and everyone needs to be on board and on the same page in order for this to work.

    2. Establish a hypothesis. The next step involves formulating a hypothesis. Your goal/objective is what you would like to accomplish, however it’s necessary to come up with an initial proposed strategy for accomplishing it. Focus on the area of business where you feel data-driven decision making will have he greatest impact. For example, perhaps your goal is to generate more leads by building your email list. Your hypothesis could focus on creating a lead magnet of sort such as a downloadable case study in order to impact the amount of email subscriptions you receive (i.e. If we add a lead magnet in the form of a downloadable case study to our website, we will increase email subscriptions).

    2.Identify data need. The next step involves identifying your data need. There are two general types of data: qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative data is non-numeric and more subjective in nature than quantitative data, which is numeric and objective. Quantitative data is what pops in mind when people are talking about big data.

    3. Build data process. Once you’ve identified your data need you will need to figure out how you are going to collect the data. Is this something your company is capable of doing itself or will you need to outsource the data collection process? Perhaps you’re in a situation where you already have a process for collecting the data you need. If this is the case then you won’t have to worry about this step, but you will have to ensure that your data is clean. If you do not currently have a process for data collection then you will need to decide who will be collecting the data you need. Is this source reliable? How is the data going to be sampled and what is the sample size? What about the number of your data sources?

    Data coming from a single source is uni-dimensional and limiting in scope. As a result, it’s generally best to have more than one data source. A recent study found that the average company uses five data sources. On average, three of these sources are external. What’s even more interesting is the fact that more than half of these companies working in the data-driven business who were surveyed stated that the number of sources they use is expanding. If you plan on using multiple data sources, keep in mind that it’s also necessary to have common variables throughout each of these sources so that information can be integrated from each accordingly.

    Once this is decided upon, it will be necessary to assign data collection and management roles as well as to define various processes and protocols necessary to ensure everything runs smoothly.

    4. Analyze data. Once your data process has been defined and your data begins to be collected, you will have to begin analysis. This is where an investment in quality tools is key. You may find that your company currently has the resources, skills and capabilities to analyze the data on it’s own. If this is the case, then great. However, many companies find that they need a trained specialist in order to effectively handle this task. The decision is ultimately in your hands.

    5. Make a decision – Once your data has been collected and analyzed it is now time to use the information and insights that were gained in order to make a decision. In order to do this, you will need to transform the insights into actionable tactics and strategies that translate to benefiting the business. It will also be necessary to present this data and communicate it in a manner that is easily understandable  even to individuals who are not technically trained. Remember, presentation and timing is everything in order to make an impact. Regardless, you can rest assured that your decision is backed by hard numbers, quality data and supported by a systematic process designed specifically to ensure that your decisions are objective and sound.

     

    Conclusion

    Data-driven decision making isn’t just some new trend that businesses are striving to hop onto in order to remain relevant. It’s a statistically validated process which provides businesses with a systematic and objective approach to decision-making that can help to increase efficiency of processes, effectiveness of decisions, workplace productivity and business growth. If you’re considering leveraging the power of data in order to set your company up for success, then rest assured you’re making a sound decision.

    Have you used data in any form to help inform and lead your decision-making processes? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below!

     

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    10 Cognitive Biases and How They’re Impacting Your Social Media Campaigns
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    Let’s face it – everyone likes to believe they are a completely rational and logical being by nature. However, the truth of the matter is that both our subconscious and conscious minds are immeasurably complex and as a result, we are often subject to biases that we aren’t even aware we have. Have you ever gotten into a situation where you realized your thinking was a bit biased? Don’t worry if you have – you’re definitely not alone.

    The truth of the matter is that we all have a number of cognitive biases, many of which we are often unaware of.

    So, what exactly are cognitive biases in the first place, you ask?

    Cognitive biases are essentially fallacies or errors that we all tend to make with regards to rationalization, memory and reasoning. These biases often lead us into making irrational decisions or judgments due to the fact that we are all too often undeniably influenced by a multitude of subconscious factors that we have built up as a result of our life experiences, preferences and beliefs.

    The bad news is that as a marketer, cognitive biases are always going to be an impediment for you. However, the good news is that through educating yourself and becoming more aware of the various cognitive biases we all often possess, you can effectively craft smarter, savvier marketing campaigns.

    This article will give you the breakdown on 10 cognitive biases and also provide you with various tips, tricks and tactics you can use to overcome them in your audience.

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    1. Attentional Bias

    What it is: Attentional bias, much as its name implies, deals with our attention and how our perceptions on a subject are often profoundly impacted by our recurring thoughts.

    What this means for you: Generally speaking, when it comes to attentional bias, familiarity breeds…content. That’s right. The more often a customer is exposed to your brand, products or messages, the more likely they are to convert. When it comes to marketing – don’t just stop with social media. An omni-channel approach is not only beneficial, it’s quickly becoming the standard.

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    1. The Availability Cascade

    What it is: The availability cascade deals with the availability of information to an individual. This is a “self-reinforcing process” where belief tends to be increased through “repetition in public discourse”.

    What this means for you: This means that your target demographic is more likely to trust your brand when they have repeatedly been exposed to other individuals who have had experiences positive experiences with it. The thought process here is that if someone says it – it must be so. The bottom line is that it’s all about generating a buzz. Use smart tactics such as affiliate marketing or influencer marketing to leverage the influence of others and get them talking about your brand.

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    3. Post-Purchase Rationalization

    What it is: Post-purchase rationalization is the tendency that humans have to justify a decision such as a purchase once it is completed.

    What this means for you:This rationalization is done in an attempt to counteract feelings of buyer’s remorse – something that everyone experiences in some way, shape or form after a purchase. You as a business can help overcome buyer’s remorse by making your customers feel good about their purchases and interactions with your business after the fact. Automated email campaigns are the best way to do this. Send your customers a message thanking them for their purchase, or better yet, offer them a discount on their next one.

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    4. The Cheerleader Effect

    What it is: The cheerleader effect is the tendency we have to view subjects as “more attractive” when in a collective group as opposed to alone.

    What this means for you:This is particularly pertinent when it comes to customer testimonials. While you may be extremely excited about the first positive feedback that you receive, don’t jump the gun on posting it on your website, social media or blog. The truth of the matter is that one single vote of confidence may actually work against you. Wait instead until you’ve cultivated a group and then post several testimonials together instead.

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    1. The Peltzman Effect

    What it is: This particular effect deals with our tendencies to take risks when we feel that the environment in which we are taking action is safe.

    What this means for you: Your audience is going to be much more likely to convert into consumers if they feel that you are a safe choice. There are numerous ways you can build up trust in your target demographic’s mind. For instance, make sure that you’re using an SSL encrypted website (https). You can also take the time to research and identify which trust badges are most effective and take steps to install them on your website to give your consumers the peace of mind that their private information and data are secure.

     

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    1. The Decoy Effect

    What it is:This is another bias that deals with our tendencies to misjudge matters in an environment of comparison. Specifically, it deals with the prospect of us having options. For the purpose of this article, we’ll call them Option A and Option B. What happens is that when we are introduced with a third option that is similar to our second option (Option C), we tend to automatically show a preference towards the second, middle option (Option B). This tendency is so strong that we often make this choice regardless of whether or not Option C is truly a better option in the first place.

    What this means for you: This is a great cognitive bias to leverage when it comes to exhibiting your pricing structures. Let’s say for instance that you currently offer one plan or price for a specific product or service. By offering a less costly option and then an upgraded option, you can essentially influence your audience to show preference for your current price point. This makes them feel as if they are in more control of the buying process than if you were to simply present one single price and as a result, positively influences their experience with your brand.

     

     

    1. The Focusing Effect

    What it is:The focusing effect deals with tendency to place a great deal of importance on one specific aspect of a subject. While we have the ability to focus on multiple things at a time, the truth is that we also tend to prioritize these things and assess a greater deal of value on a single component.

    What this means for you:This means that when it comes to marketing your products, brands or services, keep in mind that you don’t want to give your audience a major case of information overload. All this does is negatively impact their experience. Instead, focus on one unique quality or aspect that will substantially benefit your customers in some way, shape or form and drive that quality home.

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    1. The Distinction Bias

    What it is: This particular cognitive bias deals with our tendency to view things as more dissimilar when compared side-by-side than when compared or evaluated on an individual basis.

    What this means for you:If you really want to take advantage of this cognitive bias in your social media marketing strategy, then doing a side-by-side comparison of your competitor’s brand, products or services is the way to go. The truth of the matter is that you don’t necessarily have to be mountains ahead of your competitor in every way in order for this to be effective. You could simply excel in one particular area and highlight this for maximum effect.

     

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    1. The Hot-Hand Fallacy

    What it is:This bias deals with our tendencies to overestimate subjects who have previously demonstrated or experienced some form of success in the past. We then incorrectly assume that because this is the case, the subject at hand has greater odds at achieving further success in the future.

    What this means for you:You know what they say: Fake it ‘til you make it. Whether your successes are big or small, shout them from the rooftop so that your audience can see the achievement. They in turn will begin to associate you with achievement and subsequently begin to perceive you as a “winning” brand. This in turn gives you their vote of confidence, instills trust and makes them more likely to convert into actual customers.

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    1. Information Bias

    What it is: Information bias deals with our tendency to want to stay “in-the-know”. As human beings, we naturally seek out information. We often tend to do this even when the information we are interested in has no impact on the action we are taking.

    What this means for you:Overcommunication is key. People like to feel as if they’re making the right decision and we often have numerous biases that prevent us from establishing trust with a brand in the beginning. The best way to overcome this is by giving your audience and potential customers as much information as you can when the time is right. This means detailed product descriptions and lots of information on your shipping policies and the buying process. Tell your customers about your company. Give them an inside, behind-the-scenes look. Include contact information in your content. Give your customers access to everything they could want to know and more in order to build trust and assure them they’re making the right decision by engaging with your company.

     

    Conclusion

    While we may all want to believe that we’re logical and rational individuals by nature, the truth of the matter is that there are a multitude of cognitive biases that all too often influence our decision making process. Use this article and the information you’ve gained as a guide to help you on your path to enhancing your social media campaign strategy today. Remember — when it comes to conversions, every single percentage point, every little fraction of a percentage point counts. By intuitively understanding your audience, you’ll be able to effectively craft smarter, savvier campaigns and get a leg up on your competition in no time.

     

    What are some cognitive biases you’ve come across during your path into entrepreneurship? What strategies have you used to help overcome them?

     

    Sources:

    https://www.disruptiveadvertising.com/marketing/cognitive-biases/

    https://www.neurosciencemarketing.com/blog/articles/cognitive-biases-cro.htm#

     

    Social Media Blurb

    Let’s face it – everyone likes to believe they are a completely rational and logical being by nature. However, the truth of the matter is that both our subconscious and conscious minds are immeasurably complex and as a result, we are often subject to biases that we aren’t even aware we have. Have you ever gotten into a situation where you realized your thinking was a bit biased? Don’t worry if you have – you’re definitely not alone.

    The truth of the matter is that we all have a number of cognitive biases, many of which we are often unaware of.

    So, what exactly are cognitive biases in the first place, you ask?

    Cognitive biases are essentially fallacies or errors that we all tend to make with regards to rationalization, memory and reasoning. These biases often lead us into making irrational decisions or judgments due to the fact that we are all too often undeniably influenced by a multitude of subconscious factors that we have built up as a result of our life experiences, preferences and beliefs.

    The bad news is that as a marketer, cognitive biases are always going to be an impediment for you. However, the good news is that through educating yourself and becoming more aware of the various cognitive biases we all often possess, you can effectively craft smarter, savvier marketing campaigns.

    This article will give you the breakdown on 10 cognitive biases and also provide you with various tips, tricks and tactics you can use to overcome them in your audience.

    Share and Enjoy !

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    The 3 Step Social Media Guide to Further Your Strategic Goals

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    In the beginning of the 20th century, the majority of businesses found success through traditional forms of communication such as word of mouth, face-to-face and print marketing. Fast forward to the 1950s and television quickly became the primary method to influence public opinion.

    This change made marketing departments and advertising firms absolutely essential to businesses who wanted to remain competitive in the media.

    Then came the internet – and with it, the rise of social media platforms which have grown to such extents that they have become equally as indispensable to organizations looking to make an impact and gain/maintain their foothold on the industry.

    United Global Group put it best when they discussed the significance of social media on business longevity:

    “If an organisation wants to be an active part of their customer ‘s community, to listen to their wants and needs, and to provide an industry leading perspective, then they need the use of social media”

    Point blank.

    Every successful business contractor understands the important role that social media plays in their strategic goals. Successful organizations carefully devise and craft a winning plan to take advantage of the wealth of opportunity that these social platforms afford – and you can too.

    This article isn’t here to delve into in-depth, advanced strategies and tactics that can be used to further your social media agenda.

    This article is here to cut through the jungle of often confusing and convoluted information that is so often presented in social media guides and give you the bare bones of a winning structure/strategy – in just three steps.

    So, if you’re interested in getting a holistic understanding of the necessary steps that need to be taken to master social media for your busines, then this article is for you.

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    1. Plan it out

    As of the most recent Global NGO Online Technology Report, 95% of NGOs agree that social media is effective for online brand awareness. When it comes to the first stage in an NGO’s social media strategy, establishing a written strategy and presence amongst the sea of competitors is the focus.

    While currently just 32% of NGOs worldwide have  a documented social media strategy, the majority of organizations that find success through their social media pursuits credit it to their well-defined strategy.

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    2. Management

    In order for efforts to count, social media management needs to be established so that the day-to-day social activities can be overseen. Trends on social media change rapidly and if you’re tactics aren’t up to speed, they’re simply going to be ineffective.

    Communications staff are the predominant choice when it comes to social media management with 30% of global NGOs assigning the responsibility to someone in such department.

    The same technology report found that  11% of NGOs have a full-time or part-time social media manager currently on board. 20% of these organizations assign the responsibility to “program, administrative and other staff”, while 18% rely on volunteers, 15% depend on an executive staff person for the assignment and 6% assign the duties to a fundraising staff member.

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    3. Integration

    Integration of social media in your email campaigns, online giving campaigns, and on your organization’s website and blog is also a necessity for increasing social following and effectiveness.

    The traffic that is gained on these channels can also be harnessed and re-directed to your social pages via prominently featured social network icons and share buttons.

    Along with these integrations it’s absolutely essential to make use of a sharing service for important content featured on your website. Content such as blog articles, infographics, podcasts, and case studies are all examples of items that can serve as promotional in nature and should have easily accessible share links next to them.

    Applications such as AddThis offer free basic and paid premium services to facilitate social shares and give organizations “deeper targeting capabilities to increase conversions”. Other popular options include ShareThis and AddtoAny.

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    4. Make your Presence Known

    During this time period, a social profile is established on a targeted platform (or platforms) and an organization should focus on various ad-hoc tasks such as following industry-relevant groups and other “like” organizations.

    This is done to help establish your online awareness, network and gain insight into industry competitors and their strategies. United Global Group characterizes this as a “dis-jointed, and highly entropic state of potential meaning”.

    Presence should be consistent across all platforms, which should be chosen based on the social preferences of donors and supporters.
    Facebook is overwhelmingly the most important social platform for businesses and is considered an absolute must.

    Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are close runner-ups depending on your target demographic.

    In order to advance to the next stage of a social media presence, an organization must begin to actively engage with their audience in a more meaningful and targeted manner. Ad-hoc actions such as passive likes will no longer suffice and should be replaced with more engaged tactics such as re-posts, comments and conversations.

     

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    5.Participate

    Did you know that 80% of NGOs agree that social media is effective for recruiting volunteers and 78% agree that social media is effective for recruiting event attendees?

    Additionally, 71% of NGOs concur that social media is effective for online fundraising and donors are increasingly citing social media as a vital “communication tool that inspires them the most to give”.

    Industry leading contracting and research organizations such as Lockheed Martin, Deloitte and Northrop Grumman all utilize social media on a daily basis to cater to existing and potential customers such as DOD agencies, vendors, sub-contractors and potential hires.
    Primary Tactics

    During this stage it’s important to remain alive and active in front of potential clients, partners and talent. Organizations should focus on building their credibility and consistent organic connections with their audience.

    It’s important to note that passive likes and shares are no longer sufficient in this stage of social media presence. Organizations must strive to not just participate but actively listen to their audiences.
    In order to carry this out effectively, ideally a handful of social media admins should be delegated to handle various tasks associated with engagement.
    These include actions such as reposts, commentary and conversations, as well as gaining valuable data and insights from such interactions.

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    In order to graduate from this particular stage of social media presence, further efforts must be made and larger teams must be brought on in order to handle content development, manage and build a greater range of relationships, and promote the organization’s capabilities via engagement.

    These efforts all work together to effectively establish an organization as a viable industry leader – which brings us to the final stage – contribution.

     

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    6. Contribute

    If you’re an NGO looking to make an impact globally, then starting with social media is an excellent way to further your agenda. In fact, according to the same Global NGO Technology Report, a whopping 88% of NGOs agree that social media is indeed effective for creating social change.

    However, in order to make an impact both digitally and globally, your organization needs to contribute value in order to establish itself as an authoritative voice in it’s industry.

    The contribution stage is one that requires the entire organization to work together as a whole to develop valuable, targeted content that can satiate the needs of both your industry and consumers.

    The key takeaway in this stage is – engagement. Engage your audience by offering valuable insights, information and opportunities – anything from case studies, podcasts and webinar Q&As to fundraising events and projects.

     

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    At this stage, your NGO should be consistently creating written content such as articles or news stories and ideally posting at least 2-3 times a week. Content should be dynamic and include both visual and live content as well if organizations are looking to keep up and remain competitive with these rising trends in the coming year.

    Examples of visual content include inspirational messages/quotes, memes, call-to-action graphics, infographs, videos (which can be cross-promoted on both the website and a platform such as YouTube) and more.

    Furthermore, if your organization isn’t making use of native advertising opportunities, you’re going to be left behind. The truth of the matter is that 34% of NGOs currently pay for advertising on social media platforms, and they do this because it works.

    Your end-goal as an organization at this final stage is to establish yourself as a trustworthy, credible leading voice and to generate high-quality leads by actively engaging in dialogue and showing the community that you care.

     

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    Conclusion

    Social media has completely revolutionized the ways in which businesses market themselves to their consumers, potential hires, clientele and other businesses.

    According to the 2017 Global NGO Online Technology Report, a whopping 92% of NGOs have a Facebook page with 72% being active on Twitter and 39% participating on Instagram.

    These three platforms continue to remain three of the top social media platforms used amongst NGOs but by no means are anywhere near the end-all-be-all.

    In fact, with the increasing trend in visual and live content, Youtube is steadily growing in popularity with 55% of NGOs being active on the platform. LinkedIn also remains a go-to social platform for businesses and professionals around the world with 51% of NGOs having a presence on the networking site.

    Other platforms such as Medium and Quora are also steadily increasing in popularity as organizations are finding them ideal for authentically connecting with their consumer base by providing them with useful information.

    Regardless of which platform(s) your organization decides to move with, the fundamental idea remains the same: Establish a consistent presence and offer organic connections and value to your audience.

    This proven mantra will put you on the path to long-term sustainability and success with your social media endeavors.

     

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