Tag: Social Media

Meta Launches New Conversational AI Which Learns from Human Interactions, the Next Stage of Bot Development

Effective bots can help to streamline your customer service process – and Meta's latest advances could significantly improve the process.


Twitter Reports New Security Flaw Which Has Led to the Exposure of 5.4 Million Accounts

The flaw enabled users to uncover Twitter accounts associated with email addresses and phone numbers.


Twitter Refutes Musk’s Latest Claims in Response to Countersuit Over Takeover Bid

The latest legal filings in the Musk/Twitter takeover battle paint a clear picture of where each party stands.


Meta Outlines Evolving Efforts to Combat Mass Reporting and ‘Brigading’ in Latest Threat Report

These emerging tactics, which look to utilize social media functions to silence opposition, could become a bigger focus moving forward.


LinkedIn Adds New Link Sticker Option to Help Drive More Traffic From Your In-App Updates

This could be a big addition to your LinkedIn posting process.


Clubhouse Looks to More Private Sharing as it Seeks to Regain its Growth Mojo

Clubhouse is taking a new approach, in the hopes that it can boost engagement.


Twitter Launches New Initiative to Enable PAC-12 Athletes to Monetize their Video Highlights

New ad opportunities for brands, new monetization potential for student athletes.


TikTok Shares New Insights into How Gaming Marketers Can Connect with Audiences in the App

Some valuable new insights and tips from TikTok, both on promoting gaming content and tapping into the gaming discussion.


Twitter Makes ‘Location Spotlight’ Available to All Businesses, Announces New Marketing Education Initiatives

Ensure you're prepared for the end of year push with these new additions.


Instagram Expands NFT Display Options to More Than 100 Regions

Get ready to see a lot more hand-drawn character images on IG.


Social Proof: Steph Smith on Intentionally Building a Personal Brand

What is Social Proof?

Social Proof: Steph Smith on Intentionally Building a Personal Brand

Social Proof is a series chronicling how ambitious individuals intentionally craft and grow their personal brands to inspire anyone hoping to do the same. Social Proof has a double meaning — ‘to replicate the actions of others to get similar results’ and ‘to showcase the power of social media in growing a personal brand’. We hope to bring to light insights that can help you bring both meanings to life for your personal brand.

For the second edition of Social Proof, we interview one of the prime examples of crafting a personal brand — Steph Smith.

Steph Smith is a multi-hyphenate with a career spanning ten years. She recently started a role at Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), a venture capital firm, as their podcast host. She’s also led Trends at The Hustle, a premium newsletter publication acquired by Hubspot, and was also Director of Marketing for Hubspot Creators.

Steph has many side projects like her book Doing Content Right and podcast Sh*t You Didn’t Learn In School. So when thinking about who would be great to kick off Social Proof, Steph naturally came up as she’s been actively creating content for her personal brand since 2018.

Throughout our conversation, Steph shares interesting stories about how she built a Twitter following of over 118 thousand followers from scratch, starting by sharing her progress in learning how to code.

To follow or see more of Steph’s work, check out her Twitter, LinkedIn, and website.

So, how might people with multiple interests and abilities find what works for them and channel that into intentional personal brand growth online? I'm not sure, but we find out how Steph is doing just that in this interview.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Q: Welcome Steph, and thanks for agreeing to this interview! So we wanted to start by having you define how you think about personal branding.

Tim Ferriss once said that everyone has a personal brand, regardless of whether you have 10 followers or 10 million followers – and I agree. It’s the perception that people have developed of you. For example, you could be associated with a certain level of intelligence, an industry, or personal attributes like being funny or reserved.

And I find building a personal brand fascinating because just as you grow as a person, your brand also evolves. But sometimes, how people see you and how you want to be seen can become disjointed – or sometimes, they are aligned very well. It's always fascinating to hear how people view your personal brand versus how you perceive yourself.

Q: That’s an interesting way to think about it — everyone seeing you one way and you not being able to control that image fully. This leads to my next question: Have you intentionally built your personal brand?

So I like that question. Because I think I have been intentional in some ways. But I also think your personal brand is sometimes out of your own reach. What I mean by that is that I've built many things over the last couple of years, and you could say that those inputs have a level of intentionality. But I can't always control the things that people latch on to.

An example of something people have latched on to that I didn't expect – nor did I intentionally try to seed – is my being a “content person”. And people might say, well, of course, people view you that way, you have a blog, you wrote a book – but I never saw myself that way. There are things that you will do and things that you will try to work on so intensely and even at times, you’re effectively screaming, “Hey, view me this way!” And people just won't. Counter to that, there will be things you do and ways you don't see yourself that other people will start to ascribe to you.

Q: What keywords would you use to describe your personal brand?

If I were to label myself, I’d use the terms ‘curious’, ‘thoughtful/intentional,’ and ‘transparent.’

Curiosity: Everything that I do is truly driven by my curiosities. And I think I do that more than the average creator who will typically test several things, figure out what works, and then double down on what the market wants. This works well and is probably a more lucrative path, but I prefer to pursue that which interests me, and luckily that’s had some market need along the way. But I also have done so by disjointing my creative pursuits and my full-time job.

Social Proof: Steph Smith on Intentionally Building a Personal Brand

Thoughtful/intentional: One thing I always hope comes through in my work is that it's thoughtful. And what I mean by thoughtful is that when I create something, it's because I really want to create it, but I also do it as best I can and don’t sacrifice elements of it to get more of a following or more sales. An example is my book, Doing Content Right – I’ve never run ads for it and never promoted it in ways that I think are sleazy.

Transparent: When I learn something …, I will most likely share it, whether it's through tweeting or writing articles or podcasting … like when I was learning to code and learned a new way to integrate with the Google API. I knew that was something that maybe some fraction of the world wanted to know. And so I would take the time to write that up and have done something similar hundreds of times now, including how I built my open page. I think I'm more transparent relative to at least the average creator, because I see the space as positive-sum.

Q: Something interesting you mentioned is experimentation as a way to evolve a personal brand — can you elaborate on that?

If you look at the creators that have sustained their audiences over time, they've had to reinvent many times over. Putting enough versions of yourself out there, as strange as it sounds, means there are more chances people will latch onto something.

It's almost like a startup. A startup must continue iterating, experimenting, and putting different versions of its product out there. And what they can't control is ultimately what the market wants. But they can create enough versions or run enough tests to give themselves enough opportunities to find product-market fit.

Q: Continuing with this theme of experimentation, what are moments in your professional journey when you've had to evolve or iterate on what you thought your personal brand was going to be?

Yeah, I can call out several points along [my journey]. When I started in the workforce, I had to pivot because I did my degree in chemical engineering. But then, the available jobs weren't the ones I wanted to do; most were in oil and gas. So that was the first evolution – even though I viewed myself as an engineer and put all this work into this degree, I had to do something new.

Social Proof: Steph Smith on Intentionally Building a Personal Brand

I went into consulting and had a clear path of action there, but then I wanted to be remote. So I had to reinvent myself again, which luckily led me into tech and created an interesting inflection point, where I was asked to lead a publications team. And it's not so much that I don't like being branded as a content person, but I had this reaction of “I don't lead publications teams… that's not what I do.” But I ended up doing it, and it was a great decision.

I had to allow myself to become someone I had never considered being. – Steph Smith, a16z Podcast Host

That was another example where I had to allow myself to become someone that I never considered being. That period is when I started coding and creating content online. I was creating indie products through code, which I thought would be my “thing” – an identity as a woman in tech, and I even started writing about that. But then I started writing about writing; writing about content.

There have been many evolutions where I've had to, you could say from an outside perspective, rebrand myself. But internally, as corny as it sounds, it was just about following what I was interested in at the time and what opportunities fell on my plate.

Now, I've tried to dissociate more from my identity and how I view myself, and instead focus on what interests me at the time because now, becoming a full-time podcaster, I could have never predicted that. That was yet another phase change, where I had to shed what I was before to start something new … I think now it's come more easily because I just view myself as a multi-hyphenate.

Q: So, as a multi-hyphenate, you’ve done a lot of work in podcast hosting, coding, and writing. A common thread is how much passion and effort shine through in each project. Do you see your projects as a vehicle for growing your personal brand? And how do you connect these efforts to each other to craft the image people have of you?

Yes, everything I do will relate to my personal brand, some more than others. I can’t help that. There are things that reach many people and will be most impactful. But every little bit contributes, so I try to do my best no matter the situation, whether I’m starring on someone’s podcast or releasing a book or something much “smaller”.

Everything I do, whether I like it or not, relates to my personal brand and is a vehicle for it. But ultimately, what drives that vehicle, good or bad, is how I perform in every one of those circumstances. And hopefully, it's more positive than negative.

Again, you can't always control what people think about your work, but you can sway the way people see your personal brand through the projects you pursue and how you pursue them. This is why I think many creators find themselves on the slippery slope I mentioned earlier. If the quality of your work doesn’t match your audience’s expectations and seems like a money grab, you’ve harmed your personal brand and that trust is hard to win back.

Q: I’d like to dive into something that’s an essential part of this series — the place of social media in developing a personal brand. You’re super active on Twitter — would you say that’s the main platform you’ve used to grow your online presence?

Twitter has been the main platform for growing my online presence, and the “why” behind that is pretty simple – that's where I enjoy spending the most time, and creating content there is easier for me than creating content on other platforms.

I do want to explore more platforms because I am quite concentrated on Twitter. But I also have to consider a simple content marketing question, “Where's my audience?” If I'm talking about technology, there's a lot of content around that on TikTok, so that’s an example of a platform that I'm debating venturing into.

Q: Has growing an online presence using social media, specifically Twitter, helped your career?

When I learned to code in 2018, I was not active on Twitter, so I ended up wiping my account and starting with zero followers. No one knew who I was nor why I might be interesting.

And from where I am today, I can confidently say that several of my recent roles have come through (or at least been heavily supported by) my presence on social media or my personal projects, not my official resume. One example of this is how I joined The Hustle. Sam, the founder, saw an article that I had written, which went viral on Hacker News and was shared by a well-known VC. By that point, I think I maybe had about three thousand followers. That's how he discovered my work, which led me to The Hustle, which was later acquired by HubSpot.

Q: Since you have experience cleaning the slate and starting anew on a social media platform, what would you recommend that people with zero to minimal presence on social media do when thinking about how to use theirs to grow a personal brand?

If I was just starting out, I would figure out what I'm most interested in right now and double down on that. I would share everything I'm learning in that capacity and become known as someone uniquely interested in that space. And then, once you build a little bit of a following, you have the freedom to diversify and focus on other things, as I've done.

This may be counterintuitive to everything I’ve said about experimentation and evolution as a way to grow your personal brand, but it’s essential at the beginning of your journey to plant one seed and nurture it.

Q: Before we wrap up, do you have any final thoughts to share?

Millions of people create content, so it’s essential that you find a niche and give people a reason to follow you among the sea of others. One key way to approach this is through the topics you talk about.

Social Proof: Steph Smith on Intentionally Building a Personal Brand

Another way many people miss, which can be just as effective, is how you talk about a topic. For example, there are tons of people who write about technology every day. But there are certain influencers, many who are newer, that do it better. They might be funnier, more contrarian, more visual, etc. So it's not just about time in the game but also how you're doing it.


Here are some ways to implement Steph’s personal brand-building tactics for your journey:

  • Be intentional about building your personal brand: No matter what you choose to do to grow your brand and online presence, always bring your best self. Prepare for speaking engagements, create quality content, and treat every project as an extension of you. Transparency is a great way to stay intentional about your goals, and Steph has a lot of experience with both as she grew her Twitter by sharing her coding journey and indie projects. Check out this article for ideas of how to practice transparency as a way to stay intentional.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment: A big theme of Steph’s journey has been experimentation. Try different content formats, tackle new topics, and create for different platforms to find what works best for you. When it comes to trying new things, the small businesses in this article have their strategy down pat.
  • Double down on one area: When you’re just starting out creating content for your personal brand, it’s important to become known for something. This helps you build expertise and credibility, and gives your potential audience something to latch on to. To figure out the balancing act of experimenting without tackling too many things at once – and at the risk of sounding repetitive – time in the game is less important than how you’re doing your work. If you take a new approach to your chosen field or topic, you can win people over or at least make them curious. For some inspiration, check out this article on interesting TikTok creators.
  • Be open to new experiences: Steph mentioned being wary about taking on a role as head of publications because she’d never done it before but chose to forge ahead anyway. If you want to accelerate the growth of your personal brand, it’s important to be open to new challenges when they come. Putting yourself and your work out there can feel scary, but it can be very rewarding. Check out this article for ways you can open up new experiences for yourself using your online presence.

🔌Once you’re ready to start sharing content to your social channels, check out Buffer for easy automated scheduling and publishing!


Twitter Continues to Test New Topic-Based Listings for Spaces, Which Could Improve Discovery

Twitter's still working on improving Spaces discovery, which is a key step in maximizing Spaces take-up.


New Study Highlights the Usage of Social Media Platforms for News Content Around the World

The report looks at how many people in each region now rely on social platforms for news content.


Facebook Shuts Down its Live Commerce Push, Which May Reflect Broader Disinterest in Live Shopping

Live commerce has been a key growth lever for Chinese apps – but western audiences seem less enthused by the option.


YouTube Launches Updated Editing UI to Help Creators Move into Shorts, New Analytics Features

The new option will provide another way to lean into the short-form content trend.


TikTok Shares Marketing Tips and Advice in New Video Overview

Looking to get a better handle on TikTok? This new video explainer, hosted by Francis Bourgeois, will help.


Google Adds New ‘Asian-Owned’ Tag for Business Listings in Search and Maps

The new badge will help consumers support minority-owned businesses.


LinkedIn Publishes New ‘Framework’ for Events to Help Businesses Map Out their Events Strategy

Planning on running an event? You need to check out LinkedIn's new guide.


Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real Examples

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real Examples

Any company can sell its customers a product or service, but a great brand offers its followers something even better – a sense of community and belonging. After all, a major goal for all businesses is customer retention, that is, having loyal customers who repurchase from your brand time and time again.

There are many ways to cultivate this kind of relationship with your customers, one being creating an emotional bond with them. According to the Harvard Business Review, customers are three times more likely to buy from your brand if they form an emotional connection to it.

This is where Facebook Groups come into the picture. Creating a Facebook Group for your brand provides an opportunity to better connect with your followers in an intimate setting. It’s likely that not everyone who follows you or your small business on social media will join your Facebook Group, but the ones who do are typically the most invested in your products and services. Over 1.8 billion people use Facebook Groups each month, proving that millions turn to these more intimate online spaces in hopes of bonding with others.

We’ll cover the benefits of a Facebook Group for your company and share examples of businesses that have benefited from investing in this kind of community.

How these brands have benefited from Facebook Groups

“Community,” is the new follower count, at least according to The Washington Post. Content creators are shifting away from focusing on the amount of likes they receive, to creating niche spaces on the internet for their followers. And it’s not just influencers, either. Many brands are also harnessing the power of online communities to better connect with their customers. The more engaged and active your customer base is, the more brand loyalty you can expect in the long run.

Saie – a clean makeup brand – has seen huge growth in the last two and a half years and recently started selling their products in Sephora. Similarly, What’s Gaby Cooking – a small business that initially started from a blog – has turned into a food empire with founder Gabby Dalkin releasing her third cookbook soon.

Both Saie and What’s Gaby Cooking have a large following on Instagram and other social media platforms, but have still found great success on Facebook Groups. This is mostly due to the more intimate nature of the space.

Here are some of the ways a Facebook Group can help you forge a better relationship with your members.

Form deeper bonds with your core customers

Posting on your general and public social media channels can sometimes feel like you’re talking to a void for several reasons. Your follower count may be so large, it’s hard to personalize your interactions with people. Or, depending on the algorithm and the fact that individuals are constantly inundated in content, your fans might not even be seeing all of your posts in their feed.  

With a private Facebook Group, however, you can get personal with each one of your members. For example, Saie has over 146,000 followers on their Instagram accounts, and What’s Gaby Cookin has an impressive 865,000 followers on hers. But each small brand has a significantly smaller following on their Facebook Groups, with roughly 3,000 and 13,000 members respectively. This tighter community is a great way to form stronger connections with your followers.

You're usually posting content on your main social media channels – product shots, Reels or TikToks, and polished graphics. But on your Facebook Group, you don’t have to worry about providing users with a ton of media assets as they likely follow your main channels and already see those. Instead, your focus can shift to fostering community and building relationships with your followers.

Here, CEO Laney Crowell made a personal post in Saie’s Clean Beauty Crew Facebook Group asking followers for their skincare routine. It’s not often that someone that high in leadership can connect with followers in a more intimate, closed setting. Although Laney does regularly appear on Saie’s Instagram, if she were to ask this question on the brand’s Instagram Stories, the response would most likely be too overwhelming for Laney or anyone else at Saie to respond to users individually. On their Facebook Group, on the other hand, the responses are much more manageable. The post below received 15 likes and 61 comments – fewer than what the brand typically receives on their Instagram posts.

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real Examples
CEO Laney Crowell uses Saie's FB Group to connect with customers

And in this case, less is more. Saie’s Head of Community, Lauren Lauigan, responded to many of the comments and even asked some members follow up questions about their morning routine.

In another post, Lauren asked the community for their clean deodorant recommendations. By interacting with the group’s members and getting their recommendations, opinions, and feedback, Saie’s leadership team is doing a great job of making their community feel valued. Rather than just throw out content about Saie’s products, the purpose of the beauty group is for members to learn from each other and share their experiences.  

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real Examples
Saie's Head of Community Lauren regularly interacts with members in their Facebook Group

Similarly, Gaby also uses the What’s Gaby Cooking Friends! Facebook group to connect with her followers on a more personal level. In February, she made a post asking members to help contribute to her upcoming book.

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real Examples

The post had a ton of engagement with lots of followers sharing their favorite sayings from Gaby. By specifically asking members from her Facebook group, and not posting this message anywhere else, Gaby most likely made her members feel more connected to her and her brand. Users shared their favorite sayings of her in the comments, including “this little situation,” “this is epic,” and “I’m obsessed.” Gaby even replied to certain comments – something she may not have been able to do on a larger platform.

A private Facebook group allows you to carve out a smaller and more manageable space on the internet that will lead to more face time with each of your members. This can allow for more of a two-way conversation between you and your followers, so you can also get their input too.

Create a space for your followers to share their interests & passions

Another huge plus of creating a Facebook Group for your business is that it can help grow and nurture relationships between your followers. Rather than your customers solely having a connection with the products you sell, they’ll also begin to associate your brand with the friendships and sense of community they find within your Facebook Group. This is exactly what happened when Influencer Ambar Driscoll created an organization called Bamby Collective to help connect young women across the globe.

Ambar found that members quickly became vulnerable with one another through the Facebook Groups. And, while most of the members did originally join because they were fans of Ambar, one individual told us the reason she continues to interact with the group is because of the friendships she has formed.

A good Facebook Group is going to connect back to your brand identity while giving space for you customers to discuss topics outside of your small business. In this way, your Facebook Group is actually providing a real sense of community to members, where they can ask questions and share things with each other.

A member from What’s Gaby Cooking Friends! Facebook Group shared a post about the popular Hulu series, “The Bear.” While a television show may not seem related to Gaby and her brand, this show in particular is about a renowned chef, bringing it back to the community and Gaby’s core theme: connecting with one another through food.

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real Examples
A post shared by a member in Gaby Dalkin's Facebook Group

The post was quite popular and users were having discussions about the series within the comments, actively engaging with each other. This is a great example of users in the community bonding over a shared interest.

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real Examples
Members can connect with each other and ask for recommendations in Facebook Groups

In Saie’s Clean Beauty Crew Facebook Group, members constantly ask each other for makeup recommendations from brands outside of Saie. In the below post, a user started a discussion about the best eye primer, a product that Saie doesn’t even make. The fact that the Facebook Group doesn’t solely revolve around Saie makes it a more genuine space for makeup lovers.

No one wants to feel like their only value is monetary – even your customers. By creating spaces for your followers to relate with one another, you’re letting them know your small business values them, not only for their money, but also for their opinion. Through these more intimate spaces, your community will also form stronger relationships amongst each other which, in turn, will lead them to value your brand even more.

Your Facebook Group can become a channel for user generated content

Every member of your small business's Facebook group has something in common: they like your brand. So unsurprisingly, one benefit of this online community is that your followers will naturally be discussing your products including any promotions or special events.

Here, a member of Clean Beauty Crew shared her excitement about Saie’s Friends & Family Sale. In the comments of the post, users discussed what they were planning to buy during the sale.

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real Examples
A Clean Beauty Crew member shared their excitement about an upcoming sale on the group

Another user asked the group for feedback on Saie’s popular sunscreen Sunvisor. Followers who ask for product recommendations via the Facebook group can feel like they’re getting more reliable answers compared to looking at the reviews on a website that sometimes include people who’ve been gifted the product. The fact that all members in the Facebook Group can see each others’ names and pictures helps make the environment feel more trustworthy.

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real Examples
A great perk of a Facebook Group is the space is more intimate, allowing users to connect and ask each other questions

In What’s Gaby Cooking Friends, members are constantly sharing their favorite recipes from Gaby’s blog, but even more, they share news about her cookbooks as well. A Canadian user shared a link to one of Gaby’s upcoming books at a reduced price.

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real Examples
Members can share deals and any upcoming news with one another on Facebook Groups

This user generated content can be more appealing than regular marketing content as it feels more authentic when good product reviews are shared by fans and customers who genuinely enjoy the product (without any incentives like with sponsored reviews).

With that being said, you can use your Facebook group as another vehicle for promoting your brand by posting marketing content — but do it sparingly. The goal of your Facebook Group should be to enhance your members’ experience, not try to get your followers to buy more products.

Community management and content moderation

Now that you know the various benefits a Facebook Group can offer your small business and your customers, you might be wondering what the best practices are to run a successful one. In order to make the space as valuable as possible, here are some things to consider when launching your Facebook Group.

Set ground rules

A major goal for any online community – including your business’s Facebook Group – is to ensure all members feel safe and comfortable. You can set the tone for this by establishing some ground rules early on. These rules will be one of the first things your members see when they request to join the Facebook Group. Some basic rules to consider: no hate speech, bullying or personal promotion of brands or businesses.

For reference, here are Saie’s Clean Beauty Crew Group rules.

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real Examples

Lead by example

Initially, you may find that your members aren’t engaging as much with the group as you’d like – and that’s OK. As the admin and group owner, you can model these types of interaction to fellow members. Create discussion posts, engage with users, ask for feedback regularly, and initiate conversation amongst your members.

Be kind and courteous to everyone, and take the time to get to know your community by responding to their comments and posts. Eventually, you should see an increase in user contributions.

Create a private Facebook Group for your business

We recommend keeping your facebook group private to ensure the space is filled with actual community members and not spammers. Both Saie’s Clean Beauty Crew and What Gaby’s Cooking Friends! Groups are private and require an administrator to approve each new member. This way you can keep an eye on who joins the group and ensure that everyone is there for the right reasons.

We hope this article inspires you to create a Facebook Group for your small business! Remember, the goal of this space is to give your customers the spotlight and make sure their voices are heard.

Did you know you can connect your Facebook Group to your Buffer account? Get started for free today to draft, schedule, and publish content to your Facebook Group!


Instagram’s Chief is Heading to London to Spark New EU Growth for the App

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LinkedIn Makes its 20 Most Popular LinkedIn Learning Courses Freely Available Throughout August

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TikTok Publishes New Guide on How Advertisers Can Navigate New Data Privacy Restrictions on iOS

The guide looks at how advertisers can navigate the new data tracking framework, as a result of Apple's ATT update.


Meta Launches New ‘Advertiser Success Center’ to Help Marketers Maximize their Ad Approaches

Make sure you're on top of all your Facebook and IG ad opportunities with this new resource.


New Report Shows Fears Around Social Profile Hacks are Rising [Infographic]

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Google Launches Updated Google Tag Process to Help Businesses Track Site Performance

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