The Art and Science Behind Personal Branding Online

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How can you stand out from the crowd when you’re mingling in the infinite Internet?

The Age of Personal Branding

Personal Branding: How you present yourself so people remember you

We’re already branding ourselves online without thinking

Socially: 264 million have a social media profile

Professionally: 138 million use LinkedIn

Romantically: 40 million use online dating sites

Benefits of a strong online brand

Network with potential employers and romantic partners

Control your image instead of putting your rep in the hands of a Google search

Grow your business: customers trust individuals more than faceless corporations

In person, you interact using a wealth of unconscious cues: facial expression, hand gestures, tone of voice―online, your toolkit is more limited

The Many Facets of Online Personal Branding

It takes only 1/10 of a second to form an impression of someone from a photo

First impressions are based on 3 unconsciously determined traits

Approachability: full lips, broad mouth

Youthful-attractiveness: wide eyes, feminine features

Dominance: masculine features

How to take a better profile photo

Frame the shot from waist-up or head & shoulders

Close-ups on the face = less likable

Full-body shots = less competent and influential

Define your jawline through well-placed shadows

Flat lighting = less competent and influential

Wide eyes = more vulnerable, less competent

Closed-mouth smile = 2X less likeable than a smile showing teeth

Blocking your eyes = less likeable

Dress in dark suits and white button downs

Informal dress = less competent and influential

Evaluate photos of yourself through crowdsourcing platforms such as Photofeeler―you’ll get specific feedback and might be surprised at the results

On dating sites, text descriptions account for only 10% of people’s impressions

Pictures may get more attention, but text gets deeper connections

In 2013, OkCupid removed all pictures on its site for “Love Is Blind Day”

During the text-only period, users…

Responded to messages 44% more often

Exchanged contact info more quickly

Engaged in deeper conversations

How to write a better “About Me” section

Men prefer women who value fitness and seem kind and approachable

Women prefer men who take risks and seem brave

30% about what you want in a date

e.g. “I’d like someone to go hiking with.”

Dates might not read much, but recruiters do

70% of employers screen candidates on social media before hiring

Some say a LinkedIn summary is now more important now than a resume

How to write a better professional summary

Keep it short: highlight big successes and achievements

Tell a story: show who you are, not just what you’ve done

Don’t be all business: mention hobbies, interests, passions


A short video gives a more accurate impression than just words and pictures

Allows you to use nonverbal cues to convey personality and mood

Demonstrates how you move, speak, smile, and laugh

Removes viewer’s bias when judging static images

A University of Texas study found

First impressions from videos or face-to-face meetings are more positive than from photos

On the Internet, a first impression is an only impression—you won’t get another chance once they’ve clicked away

Your Personal Brand Should Impress

First impressions can affect

Use the Halo Effect to your advantage

The assumption that because someone has some positive qualities, they also have other positive qualities

Because she is attractive, she is also fun to be around

Because he writes well, he is also a competent worker

You have a short window to make an impression online

How long people spend viewing…

Show the world you’re a hot commodity with a great online personal brand


New Research Study Breaks Down “The Perfect Profile Photo”

The 10 Biggest Mistakes in Personal Branding

When it comes to personal branding, we’ve certainly seen some crazy things lately. We learned hilarious branding lessons from Mexican drug lords and uncovered a trend of using fake names while internet dating. We learned the troubling truth about Louise Delage and watched Trump and Clinton stab each other on social media as their fans rallied behind them.

If one thing is clear, it’s that personal branding has become less of a competitive advantage and more of a requirement. It’s become a reality for the political process, for enacting social change, for taking advantage of business opportunities, and even for helping (or hurting) us in our dating lives.

As we all look to take advantage of this important reality of the online world, I encourage you to be smart about your personal brand. Take stock of these classic personal branding errors before you trip and make the same blunders yourself.

Here are the top 10 personal branding mistakes:

1. Thinking it doesn’t pertain to you.

Whether you’re a high school senior, a c-suite executive, or somewhere in between, personal branding has a place in helping you take your career to the next level.

Personal branding is all about marketing and distinguishing yourself — and showcasing that online. It’s about taking control of your online narrative to help you achieve your goals.

If you’re a high school senior, your goal may be to earn acceptances from competitive colleges. If you’re a college student, you need to showcase your skills to land an internship or a summer job. If you’re a c-suite executive, then you might be looking to grow your business, earn more clients, or switch into a new industry altogether.

Whichever path you’re on, your online presence can either help you or hurt you along the way. Don’t make the mistake of thinking personal branding doesn’t pertain to you.

2. Pretending to be someone you’re not.

When we’re first dating someone new, we often try to show the best side of ourselves. Maybe our apartments looks a little cleaner than they normally do. Or perhaps our jobs suddenly become more interesting and impressive than they were last week.

In small amounts, this practice can help you gain someone’s attention and forge a deeper connection. Taken too far, you risk becoming someone you’re not for the sake of continuing a relationship.

Now, think of personal branding like dating. If you selectively showcase your positive side online, you give yourself the best chance of getting the attention of colleges, companies, and new clients.

But if you take it too far, you risk it backfiring. Nobody wants to date, hire, or employ a fraud. Authenticity is key, both for relationships and personal brands. Don’t make the mistake of pretending to be someone you’re not.

3. Waiting until something bad happens.

Dentists recommend brushing your teeth twice a day, every day. Can you imagine what would happen if you only brushed your teeth once they started turning brown and funky? You’d probably get gum disease, have some pretty brutal tooth aches, and your smile would leave a lot to be desired.

Once you get to this point, it’s usually too late to fix everything. At the very least, there is a lot of ground to make up. Brushing your teeth on an ongoing basis is a far more effective way to maintain a winning smile and good oral hygiene.

Personal branding works in much the same way. It’s harder to take control of your online narrative once there is something bad that you need to contend with.

Many folks only realize how important their online presence is once they have a problem. But that’s a classic mistake. Personal branding can be even more effective, and less of a headache, when it’s done preventatively. A little work now can make things a lot easier later.

4. Not asking the hard questions first.

Would you ever sit down to market a business when you’re still unsure what the product is? Of course not.

The same is true for personal branding. You need to ask some important questions first before you write a blog post or send out that first tweet. And the reason is simple. It may not be an easy or comfortable process, but figuring out what makes you “you” is a necessary first step to making your brand realistic and relatable — and getting in front of the people who matter most.

The people who skip this step and jump immediately to packaging themselves are the ones who end up with forced brands that they can’t relate to and ditch after a week.

Personal branding requires a lot of time, with a focus on website design, content marketing, social media activity. With all of that online activity, it would be foolish to not determine your unique value proposition or your target audience. Otherwise you’re just spinning your wheels.

5. Ignoring others in the brand discovery process.

When creating a personal brand, you cannot overestimate the importance of external consulting from friends, family, or a professional branding firm. After all, you’re not creating a brand to impress yourself, you’re creating a brand to impress others. And it is very difficult to see yourself clearly from your own perspective.

Talking your brand out with someone else can help you get a little distance from the narrative you already hold in your own head. It’s the same reason we pay psychotherapists and marriage counselors — and branding firms — for their advice and perspective.

And the consequences of making a branding mistake are pretty scary. You can run with a “great idea,” only to find out afterward that it is extremely offensive to a core group of your audience. A little outside perspective goes a long way.

6. Underestimating time to develop a great brand.

Building and maintaining an effective personal brand is a lot more than just having a website and a few social media channels. It’s about providing people with real value, again and again. It’s about distinguishing yourself from your competition and making yourself memorable for the people you want to impress and interact with most.

That’s no easy feat, especially in a noisy digital world. It takes five to seven impressions for someone to remember a brand on average, so imagine the work you need to put in to get in front of the right people over and over again.

And along the same lines…

7. Ignoring influencers.

Publishing content without doing any outreach is usually a waste of time. Imagine a new business owner that opens up a shop on a quiet street. He has an amazing product but does absolutely nothing to bring in new business. He turns on the lights and sits in his swivel chair, swiveling around waiting for people to come in.

Of course, nobody arrives. Personal branding works in much the same way — if you don’t do the work to get yourself seen by the people who matter, then you won’t get the reach you desire.

The most efficient way to do this is through influencers. They might be colleagues and family in your existing network, your friends from way back when, or complete strangers in your industry who would be happy to collaborate. Do yourself a favor and find these influencers first so you can get the traffic and engagement you desire.

8. Not generating your own content.

If you exclusively share content published by other people, then you’re a content DJ.

Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being a content DJ. It’s great to give shout outs to other thought leaders and businesses in your industry. And sure, people may find you have an exceptional taste in shared content.

But the problem is that, when it comes down to it, you’re convincing your fans to go elsewhere for industry knowledge.

So rather than relying only on shared content, make an effort to generate your own. Develop your own voice, express your own opinions, and publish content that your audience will care about. Once you start doing that, there’s no reason you can’t supplement it with other content from around the web. The more the merrier!

9. Convincing yourself to post less.

Sure, it is possible to overdo the online activity and become spammy. But chances are that you’re not posting nearly enough. Not even close. You’re probably publishing way too little content, you’re not engaging with your audience enough, and you’re definitely not active enough on social media.

Remember, when drafting a social media posting schedule, you’re not looking to check off boxes, you’re looking to get attention for yourself and your brand.

If you post a video once a week or once a day, you’re going to get a lot more attention than if you post once a month or once a quarter. You can’t spend a lifetime on one post or one tweet and simply hope that it goes viral.

Remember, consistency is key. The likelihood of your audience seeing your content in a noisy digital space is already tiny. The last thing you need is to lower that probability even more. Get active, and get active now!

10. Getting followers for the sake followers.

Getting followers for the sake of simply growing your follower count is a rookie mistake. If you have 500,000 followers and get no engagement on your updates, what’s the point? Your content is still getting ignored and nobody new is thinking about your business. You’re not fooling anyone.

What is more valuable to you? 500,000 fake followers or two dozen die hard fans that engage with your content every week? I’ll go with the engaged followers every time. They’re much more likely to tell their friends and share your content  — and to buy from you — than the 1-cent followers you bought from that dude on Craigslist.

If you’re keen on growing your following quickly, then my suggestion is to use a tool like Crowdfire, where you can customize the people you want to follow based on keywords, hashtags, and specific audiences.


Why Personal Branding Sucks (And Is Bad)

As of right now, I have roughly 22,000 Twitter followers.  I’m confident that far too many of them are robots, drawn to me by some unearthly musk, but people for some reason want to read my stupid words.  You see I, a supposed “thought leader in Public Relations,” a “best-selling author” and apparent success in Public Relations, do not talk like most PR people.

Most PR people have almost the same biography on Twitter – #PR Professional/Guru/Ninja/Maven, Love Social, Love Media, Love Running, Love Coffee, Love Cocktails, Love Puppies, Love People (in fact they may Love Everything), #Hashtags, and an endless stream of nonsense branding.  They see Twitter as a place to create a personal brand, a vacuous statement, defined by Wikipedia as “the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands”, which is another way of saying “lying”.

You see, if you are actively “personal branding,” Lies are not just the things we say that are not true; they are the things we actively hide.  Now, I’m not saying that everyone should post their naked, vulnerable bodies to every social network.  I’m just saying that if you are treating your existence as a brand and a thing (versus you) you are removing your own humanity and lying to the world.

You’re also an insufferable dope and few people will actually like you.  Nobody will #engage with your #brand or #follow you because you #use a lot of #hashtags.  Yes, there are exceptions, such as that one guy who posts the list of countries by size and then slots in the size of social networks (which literally makes no sense).  For the most part, as a PR or marketing person, you will be part of an empty sea of bumbling oafs, desperate for attention.

“Some people have confused having a personality with having a “brand,” the difference just being intention, I guess,” said Andy Orin, a writer at Lifehacker.

Here’s the horrible truth; if you’re boring as hell, there is no hiding that.  Furthermore, (and hopefully die?), or people will see through it almost immediately.  If you think you are the Talented Mister Ripley, you are incorrect.  You are, by proceeding with the idea of having a “personal brand,” betting that the individual facets of your life you share through the thin veneer of what you think people want.  You’re probably incorrect.  If you are correct, I still hate you.

Shut Up And Stop Doing It

When I started on Twitter I was trying to create a personal brand of someone I ironically already was.  I was trying to come off as the approachable PR guy who was a former journalist, sharing articles and saying how great they were and how I loved writing but now I was in PR.  I’d desperately compliment reporters in the most asinine and pathetically pandering ways, almost always when I didn’t feel any true emotion toward the piece.  This was because I was desperate and vulnerable.  I didn’t gain many followers in the first year or so.

Then something changed.  I began to get very unhappy at my job.  I was bored and angry, and thus I’d ramble incoherently on Twitter, essentially posting things I found interesting, or posting anything I thought that was funny.  I still followed all the reporters I followed, but instead of desperately begging for their attention I’d joke with them, or talk to them about what they were tweeting as Ed, that guy, versus Ed, #PR #Guru #Expert.

Eventually people from the media started wanting to have drinks with me, because I was this guy who was alright to talk to online, who wasn’t pitching them on Twitter (yes, I used to do that).  I retweeted things I found funny, which almost all of the time were not from people who were in tech, the media, or the tech media (such as Jon Hendren, @Fart, a comedy writer and DevOps expert).  To my great surprise, people began to actually like my Twitter account.

Yes, there were and are exceptions.  There are some who did and still do not like that I tweet a lot, that I retweet and tweet stupid things, that I can’t stop posting a video called ‘The Dirty Cowboy’ from the 80’s, that I swear, and so on.  For the most part, a lot of people (including some relatively well-known people in my industry, technology and for some reason MC Hammer) follow me and keep following me even though I, as described by one PR person who didn’t know was listening, “tweet like a retard.”

It’s Not Just Twitter, Idiot

A lot of my digital and personal communication is similar to the 1990’s Movie Crazy People.  The movie, starring Dudley Moore, features an ad executive that goes “insane,” and creates brutally honest advertisements such as “Buy Volvos.  They’re Boxy But They’re Good.  We know they’re not sexy.  This is not a smart time to be sexy anyway, with so many new diseases around.”  The ads are run by accident and are a huge success, and Moore creates an agency out of people from an insane asylum.

Notice that Moore is just honest.  He’s not crude, rude or mean.  He’s also not hyping the car, nor is he saying it’s the most amazing thing ever.  He’s saying it’s good.

In my pitches I send to reporters this is how I describe things.  It’s a thing, it does a thing, and it’s good at that thing because thing.  The result is that I get… well, media results.  A lot of them.  People pay me plenty of money for this, because I can do it a lot, because I get clients that I know the media will like.  I don’t have to sit there like a crazed preacher, saying how everyone’s lives are going to change.

Similarly in my proposals, I don’t talk about being an expert.  I say “this way of describing your product or this trend will be something your product fits into, and I can get you this, potentially, but then again I may not be able to, as nothing is for sure and the media are not robots that I program.”  In person I say almost exactly the same thing.  In fact, I actually write online in an almost identical manner to how I speak, except I have transitioned from British to American spelling.

As a result of this I’ve had a bestselling book, I work with three Fortune 100 clients, I am able to afford to live in San Francisco and I work 7 to 8 hours a day and never on weekends.  If you don’t believe me and want to tell me I’m horrible, you can find me on Twitter.  I will retweet you and someone may not be nice to you as a response.

Sorry if this offended you – kind of…

Michelle Bridges on success, personal branding and the power of JFDI!

is Australia’s most influential personal trainer and a brand unto herself.

She’s the straight-talking coach on The Biggest Loser, the author of 12 best selling health & wellness books, she has her own clothing & equipment range called OneActive, and she’s the creator of the hugely 12WBT – an online program that has stripped close to 1,300,000 kilograms of its participants.

Join me as Michelle talks about how she didn’t set out to build an empire, her secret to building her personal brand and all the verticals that now make it up, plus so many more business and marketing nuggets that have lead to her success. This is motivating stuff!

Plus a listener shares some great insights he’s leaned from listening to this show, and how he’s now applying them in his business to great effect.

Episode Timeline

  • 1.45  I check in on how you’re week’s been – seems to be a lot of stressed people out there right now. Take a breath!
  • 3.04 A shout out to two fantastic podcast sponsors who make marketing your business inexpensive and effective
  • 5.22 A listener shares some fantastic insights in to how listening to  has hugely improved his view on marketing
  • 8.50 Michelle Bridges introduction
  • 10.38 Michelle talks about how she helped Australia lose 1.3M kilograms!
  • 11:40 I suggest an alternative pricing model for Michelle’s 12WBT
  • 13.11 Michelle shares how she never set out to build an empire or be a TV star
  • 15.22 Michelle shares the power of stories
  • 17.30 The moment Michelle started to feel embarrassed and the advice she got from a friend
  • 19.43 When it all changed
  • 22:01 The risk of complacency
  • 23.59 The power of YouTubers and their impact on TV celebrities
  • 26.24 How did the 12WBT come about
  • 27.50 Michelle talks about Team MB and the importance of being on-brand
  • 32.30 How Michelle broke two Guinness World Records
  • 36.26 Michelle talks about the importance of JFDI!

Resources and Links Mentioned in this Episode


My Top 4 Learnings

This week’s top four learnings from my chat with Michelle Bridges:

1.  Is what you’re doing in your business on-brand?

3.  Truly care about what it is you offer in your business– stop looking at the bank account and the empire will build itself.

4.  Stay fit. A healthy body equals a healthy business.

Over to you!

Let me know YOUR #1 takeaway from this episode by leaving a comment below.
My guest and myself personally read and respond to every comment.

7 Social Media Personal Branding Tips for C-Suite Executives & Senior Managers


Social media has become one of the most powerful marketing tools today. Startups, small businesses and large businesses are heavily relying on social media to build their brand and their credibility.

However, social media branding need not just be limited to organizations. Social media can act as an excellent tool for personal branding. C-Suite executives and senior managers are increasingly using social media to define themselves and build their personal brand. The increased influence among C-suite leadership resulting from such an effort widens business opportunities and simplifies relationship building with target groups, partners and other influencers.

If you have a resolution to build your personal brand by 2018 and need a schematic of how other executives have successfully done it, you will find this write-up relevant. Here are 7 social media personal branding tips for c-suite executives and senior managers.

1. Focus on your area of expertise

One of the key objectives of personal branding is to get popular as the go-to expert in your preferred area.

Having made your way up the corporate ladder, it is only natural that over time, your area of expertise has multiplied from one to many. But it is tedious to try and establish yourself as an expert in all of these areas at once.

It is always better to narrow down your skills to a maximum of three areas. Remember that there are plenty of competitors who are trying to accomplish the same goals as you. It is therefore, extremely important to come up with a hyper-specific area where you can standout, no contest. One way to identify your forte is to ask your colleagues and peers which skill of yours they would pay to develop. And then put that skill on display through your content.

2. Curate valuable content

Once you have narrowed down on your area of expertise, the next step is to make an impression on your audience by demonstrating your value. One of the best ways to achieve this goal is via content marketing.

People are always searching for information on the internet. Your posts on social media and blogs need to reflect your skills and expertise, so such people can find you.

The content you share should be unique, captivating, and carefully planned before publishing. It’s understandable if you don’t have enough time to create epic content from scratch, what with the responsibilities you have as an executive or senior manager. The great news is that you don’t have to sit around and pen down 1000 word-long blog posts for social media. You can simply share your views on existing content and curate it for your fans.

Curate the latest news that will impact industries that your fans belong to. Comment on the decision-making of big organizations. It’s also fun to occasionally share the trending GIF showcasing your personality.

Tool Recommendation: There are a number of social media management tools that can help you with content curation, but DrumUp is particularly useful because it curates keyword based recommendations, works with RSS feeds and content libraries, that you can fill with your best content.


3. Get visibility

Blogging is an effective way to generate material for social media posts. You could start your own blog, but I recommend getting featured on the best blogs in your niche. The more relevant and useful content you publish that is niche-specific, the more you grow as a trusted source of information. Ultimately, the goal is to establish your personal brand and build your reputation, by creating a sizeable and influential web-footprint.

Consider Neil Patel, for instance, who is an entrepreneur and online marketer. He helps multinational companies like Amazon, Viacom, and HP grow their revenue using the internet. He is also the co-founder of KISSmetrics and CrazyEgg, two established online marketing tools. But what’s most interesting about him is how he has demonstrated his expertise in online marketing and SEO by creating multiple blogs on online marketing, one for each of his businesses, and making them rank on the internet. His blogs, Neil Patel, CrazyEgg and KISSmetrics are extremely popular, proving that he’s an online marketing guru. Even so, he still writes for outside entities like HubSpot and SocialMediaExaminer, because they can give him access to audiences that he hasn’t tapped into yet.

4. Stay active on the right social networks

Staying active on social media channels is important. But staying active on the social media channels where you are likely to have the most engagement is much more important.

Tool Recommendation: Google Analytics is one of the most popular used to track, analyze, and report website performance. It has several data analysis and reporting features that will help you boost your traffic and get to know your audience better not to mention that it is absolutely free. This tool is particularly useful if you have a website that you want to generate traffic for from social media.

The ‘network referral report’ on Google Analytics shows you the social media traffic from each of your social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on. Another report, the ‘data hub activity’ report gives information about how the audience is engaging with your posts across social media channels such as Reddit, Meetup, and Google+.

Once you get an idea of the social media channels that drive the most traffic to your website, focus on staying active on these channels. Post regularly on such channels and when posting, include a mix of original posts and some shared content as well. It is also important to engage with your followers by responding to comments and participating in conversations. Typically, Facebook users expect a response within 24 hours while Twitter users respond within 2 hours.

Always remember being active on social media channels should not be only about marketing. This can put off your followers. Keep it to 80% social and 20% marketing.

5. Create a consistent and well structured profile across all social media platforms

Your social media profile needs to be both valuable and memorable. Consistency in your profile is extremely important for your audience to find you credible and trustworthy. Your profile across all social media channels should have the same profile photo, headlines, bio, and website links and should be consistent in color schemes, fonts, and styles. Impactful professional profiles also highlight skills, areas of expertise and achievements.

People look in several places for information and it is important that everywhere they look, they find the same profile. This helps people find and remember you easily.

Your professional profile should have a headline that makes a powerful statement about you. This is especially great for social media channels like LinkedIn and Instagram. You can even use this headline as a short twitter bio.

It is also a great idea to include some samples of your work.

For instance, take a look at the headline given in the LinkedIn profile of Eric Cole, CEO at Secure Anchor Consulting. It also includes his area of expertise, Cyber Security. His description complements the headline by explaining how he helps clients and contacts.


6. Network with other social media influencers and brands

Networking with social media influencers and brands is the quickest way to build a following. It takes time and constant effort to build a network of valuable connections from scratch, but by interacting with the right online profiles, you can get amplified, relevant visibility without investing much effort.

If you intend to build your following one person at a time, LinkedIn, the social media channel for business-minded people, is a great platform to do so. Once you establish connections with valuable members in your industry, you will start to be noticed by the people connected to the people you know. This way your network keeps growing.

For instance, if you have been looking for prominent people in the cyber security area, it shows the profiles of several people who have authority in the field as shown in the image below.


Another powerful way to build your personal brand is by interacting with other brands. This lays the foundation for a give and take relationship.

You can interact with other brands by mentioning them in your posts, sharing their content, responding to their tweets, and so on. This in turn builds your presence and increases exposure.

For instance, Tim O’Reilly, the CEO of O’Reilly Media has mentioned Google’s Pixel in one of his tweets. Tim has listed certain features he found appealing and has also given a positive mention about Google’s product.


7. Get Personal

Social media users love getting to know the people they follow on a personal level. This is one of the reasons why updates, live streams, and videos that focus on what goes on behind the scenes are so popular.

Allow your followers to witness the hard work that goes into making you, you. It can be a video leading up to the preparation for a presentation, a speech, or a project. Tell people before you show up at an event through social media updates. This helps your followers to connect with you on a personal level. They are likely to follow personalities with whom they can relate better.

For instance, Bob Parsons, the CEO of GoDaddy, features vlogs on his website which talk about his journey to become the CEO of a multi million dollar company. He talks about his struggles and gives out tips to become successful. Needless to say, he has a strong web presence.

Author bio: This post was written by Ronia Reji, Content Writer at Godot Media, a leading content agency.

7 Social Media Personal Branding Tips for C-Suite Executives & Senior Managers

Why is Personal Branding Important for Agencies – Interview with Leonard Kim

In today’s competitive business landscape where everyone claims to be a ‘wizard’, ‘specialist’ or an ‘expert’, it can be extremely difficult to carve out a name for yourself and become a key influencer in your niche. We spoke to Leonard Kim, Managing Partner, InfluenceTree to understand why personal branding for agencies is an important area […]

The post Why is Personal Branding Important for Agencies – Interview with Leonard Kim appeared first on Mondovo Blog.

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