What I’ve Learned at TKG

I have been interning here at TKG for a little over two months. Sometimes it feels like time has flown. With just a few short weeks left I thought now would be a good time to reflect on my time here and what I’ve learned.

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With this internship brought many firsts. My first internship, I couldn’t have asked for a better company to intern with. As anyone would be, I was a little nervous to start the job. From day one each and every employee was kind and helpful. It also brought my first look into the industry. We learn all about business in school, but learning isn’t doing. The Karcher Group set a good program for a first time intern to lead me into the world of marketing and web design. Being that all my previous jobs were outdoor labor intensive jobs (such as grounds crew on a golf course) this is my first office job. For those who have worked both types of jobs you know how different they are. There was a period of adjustments and a learning curve.

Since being here I have worked on various projects ranging from social media libraries for clients to assisting in the development of a new site. With these I learned programs to complete the project including content management systems and Google Analytics and have become Google Analytic certified. With each project I find it becomes easier to know exactly what we want the end result to be and how to get there. I’ve also been able to see which parts on the industry I love and which parts maybe not so much.

They say that happy employees are hardworking employees. At The Karcher Group I’ve been able to see how true that really is. There seems to be something going on almost every day. With employees riding scooters through the office, playing foosball, darts, and pool it’s clearly a fun work environment. At a glance it may look like it is all fun and games but employees here play hard and work harder. In fact, each month an employee is elected by fellow employees and awarded the brain award for outstanding work and get to spin for various prizes from gift cards to extra vacation days. This is just one of the ways they show appreciation for the hard work put in by their employees.

As a first time intern I really had no idea what to expect. Going based off the stereotypical intern I thought I would be getting coffee and doing all the stuff around the office no one else wanted to. Within the first week I knew it was anything but a typical internship. I was already being taught programs and tools on the first day and was given projects shortly after. Although I only have a few short weeks left I have really enjoyed my time at TKG and am excited to see what I can learn in my remaining time.

Slow WordPress Site Got You Frustrated?

4 Tricks to Help Speed Up Your WordPress Site

I’ve recently visited a ton of WordPress sites that have taken forever to load and even with the page cached, repeat visits to the site were still slow. There can be many reasons why your WordPress site is slow but I want to cover 4 of what I believe to be the most important things you can do to speed up your WordPress site.

1. Resize and Compress Your Images
Image size can be a huge issue for page load speed on any site so make sure that your images are resized and compressed for web use. With today’s high resolution screens it is tempting to upload high-resolution photos. While this might be necessary in some instances make sure to think about your audience and whether or not having higher resolution photos will likely lead to a conversion.As a starting point make sure that all images are set to 72dpi (dots per inch) and if your image editor has an “export or save for web” function make sure to use that. Doing this will ensure that the image file size is compressed for the web.

2. Install a Lazy Load Plugin
Plugins such as Bj Lazy Load on a basic level allow all non-image based content such as text to be loaded and viewed before all of the images on the page have fully loaded. This ensures that large images on the page are not causing the whole page to load slowly.

3. Check the Performance of Your Plugins
Another common problem with WordPress sites is that 3rd party plugins can slow down the overall page load time. To fix this issue try using a plugin performance profiler. This is a plugin that I like to run periodically on sites to test how long each plugin is taking to load.

If you find a plugin that is running slow try looking for an alternative plugin and try it.  Note that all plugins work differently and if you remove one plugin and install another you may lose content.

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This plugin does not need to be left on all of the time so after you have run your test disable the plugin so that it does not slow your site down. Simply re-activate it when you need to run another test.

4. Minimize the Number of Plugins You Use
There are often times when our sites change and we no longer need a plugin or it is a plugin that we only use sometimes. Those plugins should be deleted or deactivated when necessary. Note that removing a plugin could remove site content. For example, if you remove an SEO plugin all of your optimizations will be removed as well.

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In the example above you can see that this site at one point wanted to use a Sellfire Affiliate plugin on their site but then decided not to go that route. This plugin should be deleted to help minimize the amount of content that needs to load when a user visits the site.

I hope this article gives you some tricks that you can use to help speed up your WordPress site. If you have any questions or would like to talk to someone about a new website, please contact us.

Mobilegeddon: The Results are in

April 21, 2015 will forever live in infamy in the online marketing world. This date, lovingly dubbed ‘mobilegeddon’ by those in the industry, corresponds with the day Google implemented their new algorithm that favors mobile friendly sites on mobile searches.

Think about how many times a day you Google something on your phone. This is a huge deal for websites.mobilegeddon

Google informed webmasters that they were planning to favor mobile sites on mobile searches back in February and provided resources for developers to help them make their sites mobile-friendly. This created a two month long mad dash for web developers to get their sites mobile. Some succeeded, and some did not.

It’s been a few months since April 21, so a lot of people are asking what the real impact of mobilegeddon actually is. The results seem to live up to the hype. According to a recent study done by Adobe Systems, traffic to non-mobile websites from Google mobile searches fell 12 percent in two months.

Google is not messing around. When they said mobile-friendly sites will receive preferential treatment in mobile search results, they were serious. On top of that, Google recently announced that in the US, mobile searches now outnumber desktop searches.

If you’re reading this and your site is not mobile, it might be time to consider responsive design.

Responsive design is a technology that allows your full website to be desktop, tablet and mobile friendly. You can tell if a site is responsive by decreasing your window size. If the site adjusts to the size of the browser, then it’s responsive and vice versa.

Google’s mobilegeddon aside, there’s a more important reason to go mobile: it’s great for your site’s visitors. Responsive design allows mobile users to easily use your whole site, as opposed to having a separate mobile site that is a watered down version of your desktop site.

When users find your site to be easy to use on a mobile platform, they are more likely to stay on your site longer. This should lead to more leads and conversions.

The Internet is shifting toward a mobile platform. Google and customers alike are saying catch up or be left behind.

Need help making your site responsive? Check out our website and see how TKG can help.

Five Mistakes to Avoid to Ensure Social Media Success

Today, everyone and their mother is on social media. According to We Are Social, the number of social media users exceeded 2 billion in 2014, and that number is steadily increasing by the day. Naturally, there is a lot of selling power in social media. Brands are noticing this and are taking action.

While avoiding social media all together is not your best bet (unless you’re Apple), using it incorrectly could hurt your brand more than help it. Here are five mistakes you need to avoid to keep your brand’s social media endevours successful.

  1. Not Having a Strategy
    So, your brand has a Twitter account—now what? If you’re posting random content whenever you feel like it, then you’re doing it wrong. Think about what your brand is trying to accomplish with Twitter and keep that in mind everytime you post.Consider making an editorial calendar to map out all of your posts for the coming month. Then, you can schedule your posts ahead of time—this will make your job easier and keep your social media consistent.
  1. Posting Too Much Promotional Content
    When managing a brand’s social media, marketers tend to lose sight of what social media is all about—fun interaction. By simply putting out your brand’s main talking points and products, you’re not correctly utilizing social media.Finding a balance between engaging and promotional content is key. Try tweeting about a trending hashtag or replying to a tweet in a witty and humerous way. Humanizing your brand will encourage the most social media interaction.
  1. Being Impersonal
    We’ve all heard the auto-responses-gone-wrong horror stories (cough, cough American Airlines), but the lesson to take away here is to always respond in a personal manner.Auto-responses that don’t entirely make sense are hurting your brand. When replying on social media, it is important to display human characteristics like humor or empathy.
  1. Picking the Wrong Channels
    Before you create an Instagram account, for example, you need to ask yourself why your brand should be on Instagram. If the answer is because everyone else is doing it, you might want to do some reevaluating.If your brand does not rely on visuals, then Instagram might not be for you. Think about your brand in the context of the various social medias and choose the ones that make the most sense for your brand.
  1. Not Doing Your Homework
    On July 4, 2014, American Apparel decided to post on Tumblr to commemorate the America’s independence. This seemingly harmless act turned into a PR nightmare of epic proportions.Whoever made the post mistook the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion for a firework (don’t ask me how). You can imagine the backlash that ensued. Before you post, make sure what your posting is appropriate and the image you plan to use is what you think it is.challenger explosion

What it all comes down to is keeping in mind that social media is meant to be fun. Promotional content is not fun for you or your followers. Keep them engaged and entertained. This will humanize your brand and make it more approachable. So, have a strategy, pick your channels appropriately, engage in interaction, do your homework and, most importantly, have fun!

Need help with your social media strategy? We can help. Contact us to see how we can help grow your brand’s social media.

#ALLinCLE: Three Things Brands can Learn from the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Social Media Usage During the Playoffs

Cavs blog post imageThe 2015 NBA season was a fun ride for Cleveland fans. Although the Finals didn’t turn out the way we hoped, there is still plenty of room for hope looking forward to the 2015-2016 season.

While the 2015 NBA playoffs gave fans a chance to watch LeBron James and company play basketball at the highest level, another part of the Cavs’ organization had a chance to shine—the social media team.

Whether it was Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat, the Cavs were all over social media during the playoffs. Fans saw the playoffs through an entirely new lens made possible by effective use of social media.

Believe it or not, your brand can learn from what the Cavaliers’ social media team did during the playoffs. I understand you’re probably not in a business as glamorous as professional basketball, but there are plenty of things to take away from the Cavs’ social media success to help your brand.


Use of Hashtags

#ALLinCLE. This was everywhere during the playoffs. It was seen on t-shirts, rally towels, billboards and in almost every Cavs social post. The hashtag received so much notoriety that when people used it during the NBA Finals, Twitter automatically added a Cavs logo to the end.

Keep in mind that your brand is probably not going to have the luxury of Twitter adding your logo to your hashtag, but creating a hashtag and promoting it correctly will still pay social media dividends.

Let’s say your company is hosting a walkathon to raise money for a special cause. You could come up with a creative hashtag to use in all of your posts about the event. You should also include the hashtag on the event’s marketing materials such as posters and ads. This will encourage people to use your hashtag when posting about the walkathon.

If enough people use your hashtag in your area, it will start to trend and attract more tweets and potentially local news coverage.

Give Your Followers Something Unique

On game days, the Cavs would post pictures and videos from inside Quicken Loans Arena hours before fans were even allowed in. Their followers were treated to an inside look at employees placing t-shirts and towels on seats or players getting some extra practice in before the game, for example.

These are things that TV cameras don’t normally show but are still interesting to fans. It’s exciting to open up Instagram and see Kyrie Irving drain three pointers during warmups or what players are wearing when they arrive to the arena.

Your customers always see the finished product, but they rarely see what goes on behind the scenes. Social media is a great way to show your followers the process of how your products are made or highlight employees who are responsible for providing the services customers are accustomed to.

Going back to the walkathon example—instead of just posting pictures of the walkathon while it’s happening, post pictures of the set up or the people or place the funds raised will benefit.

Take Advantage of When Your Followers Post About Your Brand

Whether it was newborn babies at the Cleveland Clinic dressed in Cavs gear, photos posted by players or famous fans at the game, the Cavs were all over reposting or retweeting others’ posts.

The Cavs obviously can’t retweet every fan that tweets about them because they’d have hundreds of retweets a day, but they pick and choose posts that have prominence to share.
Most of the time, celebrities won’t post about your brand, (if they do, retweet, repost, share, comment, do whatever you can to promote that post!) but sometimes your customers will post about your company.

For example, if someone posts about how much fun your hypothetical walkathon was, repost or retweet them and thank them for their participation. This will validate your brand to other followers because people value others’ opinions (hence Yelp, product ratings, etc.) and will make the original poster feel even better about your brand.


The Cavs might not have won the NBA Finals this season, but they certainly won the social media championship. So, next time you’re brainstorming a new social media strategy, keep the Cleveland Cavaliers in mind.

Craft and market a creative hashtag, give followers a unique perspective and take advantage of when others post about your brand, and your brand will have the recipe for social media success.

Need help with your social media strategy? Check out our website to see how TKG can help grow your business.

Better for SEO: Subdomains or Subfolders?

When developing a blog, the following question usually comes up:

For SEO, is it better to locate your blog on a subdomain, in subfolders, or on a completely different domain?

For those who are visual, the options look like this:

Scenario 1: awesomewebsite.com/blog

Scenario 2: blog.awesomewebsite.com

Scenario 3: awesomewebsiteblog.com

Before we go any further, it’s important to note that we are answering the question with the goal of maximizing search engine optimization performance. More specifically, we want to know which scenario gives a website the best opportunity to bring in organic traffic, increase the volume of traffic, and rank higher for the content. We are not factoring ease of implementation or cross-platform hosting challenges.

With that out of the way, let’s dig in:

The Google Answer

In October 2012, the Google Webmasters YouTube channel released the following video featuring well-known Google spokesperson, Matt Cutts. He essentially states that Google is smart enough to recognize that content from blog.awesomewebsite.com is related to awesomewebsite.com so Scenario 1 and Scenario 2 are interchangeable.

 

In February 2015, Google Webmasters posted a Google Hangout video that contained the same topic. At the 0:50 mark, the question of subfolders versus subdomains was asked during a Q/A session. This time, Scott Mueller of Google reinforced Matt’s point that Google sees both as equally effective options.

 

Real World Example

In January 2015, Timo Reitnauer of IWantMyName.com posted an article detailing a dramatic drop in traffic as a result of switching his blog from a subfolder (Scenario 1) structure to a subdomain structure (Scenario 2).

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His company followed the advice of Google, experienced a dramatic drop in traffic for the next six months, and then decided to revert back to the subfolder structure. The author goes on to state:

“…we decided it would be better for our long-term SEO strategy to put our blog back on our primary domain.”

The Rand Fishkin Answer

In Reitnauer’s blog post, he references a similar sub domain / subdirectory content migration experiment from Moz co-founder Rand Fishkin. Like Matt Cutts, Rand is well-respected in the SEO community. On moz.com, they tested moving an SEO guide from a sub domain to a sub directory. In a Moz Community Message Board topic discussing the content migration, Fishkin states, “The results were astounding – rankings rose dramatically across the board for every keyword we tracked to the pages.”

The topic received so much interest that Rand released an SEO video in February 2015 elaborating on this experience. The first four minutes of the video provide a great overview of how he came to the conclusion that using subdirectories (Scenario 1) is the ideal structure for search engine performance.

What Have We Learned?

According to Google, Scenario 1 (/blog) and Scenario 2 (blog.) are interchangeable. However, when switching from one to another, there are real-world examples of companies experiencing positive SEO impact from Scenario 1 and negative SEO impact from Scenario 2. What about Scenario 3 (awesomewebsiteblog.com)?  It fits into the same category as Scenario 2. Your content is either centrally located under one domain or it isn’t. Search engines like websites with lots of content-rich pages that frequently have new, unique pages being added. If your company blog discusses topics similar to the industry, products, or services on your primary website, we do not recommend splitting up your page count across multiple domains. Subfolders are still the best option for search engine optimization.

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Win Them Over: 5 Ways to Turn Leads into Clients

YesWe seem to be programmed to instantly be skeptical of salesmen, almost involuntarily telling them “no” when approached with an idea. We’ve all done it. Think of walking into a retail store and being approached by an employee asking, “Can I help you find anything?”  Chances are you replied, “No thanks, I’m just looking.” Why is that? We all know we could use some help finding whatever it is we’re looking for whether it’s a shirt size or a new marketing strategy.  Sales are the driving force of any company. I’ve put together some key points to turn those skeptical leads into clients.

  1. Listen, don’t pitch – Listening to what a customer needs is key. Knowing their needs and desired outcomes is the starting point for a promising business relationship. Put yourself in their situation to try to see the issue from their perspective. Make conversation, not pitches. This way they feel understood, not sold.
  2. Ask the tough questions- This part isn’t fun for anyone. It’s like enjoying a meal at a restaurant and then getting the check. Take your time getting to this point, only when you feel that you’ve gained the trust of the client can you ask the questions of budget, timing, or what results they find realistic. Offering different options for each of these keeps them comfortable.
  3. When in doubt, take a break- Sometimes the conversation can become a little heated, the negotiations can get tense. When it comes to this point it is better to suggest taking a five minute break to breath and gather your thoughts. There is nothing wrong with being upfront and honest. If you feel that being frank about the situation isn’t the best idea simply excuse yourself to the restroom. Even just a minute or two can help you and your clients keep a cool head.
  4. Be persistent- Some clients need more to win them over than others. This is where it can become difficult to find the line between reminding them how you can help them and being too pushy. Some clients may take long amounts of time to respond to emails, call, etc. Don’t give up, leave them reminders that you’re there and what you have to offer.
  5. Know what you have to offer – Never bad mouth the competition, but always know what you have to offer and how it will benefit them more greatly. Ask them what’s most important to them whether it’s price, customer service, quality, etc. and let them know how you can deliver.

At the end of the day you can’t win them all, but we’d sure love to try. Remember it’s not making a sale, it’s creating a solution. I hope this article provides you with some helpful tips and will help you get skeptical leads to say “yes.” Having trouble generating leads? We can help. Curious how? Feel free to contact us and ask any questions you may have.

Own the Space You’re In

When it comes to effective content marketing, it’s important to establish your brand as a trusted resource for content that is relevant to your industry. Instead of creating content that is just trying to make a sale, try creating relevant content your audience actually wants to seek out. Whether your content is educational, helpful, entertaining or persuasive, you need to make sure it resonates with your audience and stands out from the competition.

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Ways to own the space you’re in:

Brand Journalism
By writing your own authoritative content or curating articles from reputable third party sources, you are able to establish your brand as a thought leader in your industry. If there are no editorial authorities in your area of expertise, start your own conversation – possibly through a blog, podcast or video series.

Social Media
Consistent and compelling social media is one of the best ways to gain exposure to your editorial brand content. Effective social media is visual, interactive and draws users in with headlines that make them curious to learn more. Don’t expect these messages to lead directly to sales; this content adds value in a different way. It helps tell your brand’s story and explains how that story fits into your audience’s interests and lifestyle.

Audience Focus
When you set your content strategy, don’t just think about ways your content will help you sell products or generate leads. Think about the types of information your customers will actually find useful. If you are a razor company, try creating content about men’s heath and grooming (Dollar Shave Club does this really well). If you are a clothing retailer, try creating fashion and lifestyle content (Modcloth is a leader in this space). By creating content that your audience actually wants to interact with, you will make huge strides in establishing brand recognition and customer loyalty.

To sum it up, we recommend content that meets your audience where they are. Your audience wants you to speak to them in a way that is informative, engaging and not overtly promotional. Trust us, when you give them the content they want, your audience will return the favor with likes, comments, shares and repeat purchases.

Want to own the space you’re in? Contact TKG and discover new ways to elevate your digital presence.

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Fading Excitement over Microsoft’s New Web Browser

My excitement over Microsoft’s new browser, Edge, is rapidly disappearing as more and more details emerge.

Originally billed as a replacement for Internet Explorer, Microsoft introduced some potential (and since removed) confusion when it announced that the browsing experience in Windows 10 would default to the new rendering engine and ‘auto-roll’ over to the IE engine when it detected legacy code. So basically, one browser with two hearts. Fortunately, the masses have convinced Microsoft to make a stand alone browser on the new engine, and leave IE alone to die in piece. Or have they?

I believe the driving factor behind a new browser is simply marketing. You see the IE team really has made drastic improvements to the browser over the last few versions. The problem is, no one cares.  IE’s image is tainted with the horrific days of IE 6,7 and 8, and no amount of work to make 9,10 and 11 ‘modern’ has been able to shed that negative reputation. So what is the answer to win back market share from competitors? A new browser.

Rather than going back to the drawing board and evaluating “today’s web,” Microsoft has taken the heart of IE, the Trident rendering engine, and rebranded it as “EdgeHTML.” Don’t get me wrong, there are improvements to the new browser, but I’d bet those improvements could have been packaged as IE 12.

Microsoft’s marketing for this new browser, Edge, is gimmicky and reminds me of “Web Slices” and “Accelerators” from IE8.  Don’t know what “Web Slices” and “Accelerators” are? That’s because they weren’t useful, and no one adopted them.  From microsoft.com:

Accelerators. Accelerators give people easy access to the online services they care about most from any page they visit. Meanwhile, developers gain an easy way to extend the reach of their online services. Accelerators also allow users to browse faster by eliminating most of the clicks required to access desired content and services.
Web Slices. With Web Slices, people can see the information they want to see most often without going away from the page they are on, and developers can mark parts of Web pages as Web Slices and enable users to easily monitor the information they most frequently browse to, all while they move about the Web. Web Slices appear in the Favorites bar, where people can identify updated sites when in bold. From there, they can see a rich Web Slice visualization of their content with easy access back to the source Web page.

The touted features front and center on Microsoft’s new web browser, Edge, are “Inking” and are you ready“Cortana.” Inking is the ability to take notes over the content of a webpage, but seriously, how often have you needed to do this? Then there’s Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, that on my Windows phone, I LOVE.  MS has a hit with Cortana, so in historic fashion, that hit is being crammed into every nook and cranny, whether it fits or not.

My limited tests with Cortana in Windows 10 have left me frustrated and annoyed.  I can only imagine the experience will be similar with Cortana in Edge. Get me to Google and let me find what I need-  that’s it – I don’t need her (Cortana) stepping in to undo years of conditioned habbit.

Still not convinced that Edge is merely IE12 in a different skin? I’ll leave you with this comic pointing out the announcement of the new Edge logo, and the side by side comparison.

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3 Questions to Ask When Setting up Facebook Ads

Facebook AdsAs most of you already know, Facebook released a new algorithm a while back which made it harder for business pages to see success with normal posting and updates. While this has likely been very frustrating for many of you the good news is that Facebook allows you to run promoted posts and pay-per-like campaigns to help improve your brand’s reach.

We are seeing a lot of success and great return on investment for our clients that are running pay-per-like and/or promoted post campaigns on Facebook. Over the past year we have been polishing our technique and strategies and want to share a few tips and tricks with you.

1. What are your goals?

It is important to write down your goals before starting any paid advertisement campaign so take some time to think through what you want to achieve. Are you looking to promote a new product, open job opportunity, increase your audience and drive traffic to your site? Your answer to this question will provide the foundation for your ad campaign and ultimately control which ad type you end up choosing.

For instance if you are looking to increase your audience size you would most likely setup a pay-per-like campaign whereas if you are looking to promote a new product you would most likely setup a promoted post campaign with posts about that new product.

2. What is your budget?

Budget is important to consider and the great news is that you do not need to bankrupt your business to get positive results with Facebook ads. While we have seen budgets as low as $35/month and ones over $1500/month, often times, $100 to $500/month is enough to start moving the needle.

3. Who is your audience?

This is perhaps the most important piece to the puzzle. Take some time to think, not only, about the audience that your business currently serves but also the audience you would like to reach. Some important questions to consider are:

a. What gender is your audience?

Even if you serve both male and female it is important to think about who the decision makers are in that purchase process. For example both men and women enjoy watching television but most of the time males will likely be the decision maker when it comes to making the purchase. On the other hand, the female of the household will likely control the grocery shopping decisions.

You might being saying, “Wow they are being very general and making a lot of assumptions.” You are correct we are being very general and making a lot of assumptions and in this particular scenario it is important to think this way at least a little bit. The goal here is not only to reach a lot of people, but also reach people you are more likely to convert.

If you target both male and female and the male makes the buying decisions you might be wasting a lot of ad spend dollars for ads that are being shown to people who are less likely to convert.

b. What Age is your audience?

Age is very important when setting up your ads. We recommend setting your age range slightly below and slightly above your audience age. This might need adjusted as you go along or as you run different types of campaigns.

For example if Dick’s Sporting Goods was running a special on baseball bats they would want to target high school students and parents of those high school students. This age range could look like 16-35.

It is possible that a 15 year old and a 40 year old could be looking for a baseball bat but targeting 16-35 will target the group that is most likely to convert.

c. What is your audience interested in?

Do you have a large national competitor that has a lot of Facebook followers? If so, there is the possibility to target only people who follow that competitor’s page. It is important that this is done with integrity and in a way that follows Facebook’s advertising guidelines. For instance you can target those who follow a competitor’s page but you cannot add their logo to your images or pose as that competitor.

I hope that this article provides you with some valuable information about how to go about setting up your Facebook ads. Feel free to ask questions in the comments below and if you would like to talk to someone about social marketing contact us today!

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