Last updated on January 29, 2024

Image Credit: Yotpo Studio
Jason Quey
December 11th, 2016

Raise your virtual hand if you are tired of bland social media articles.

Table Of Contents

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You know the articles I’m talking about, right?

A social media guru creates an “ultimate guide,” filled with tips a thirteen-year-old could tell you.

They share helpful tips like: post photos consistently, be authentic, build a community, and share photos only at noon when the moon is full …

I hate to break it to you, dear reader, but most of those tips won’t move the needle in your business.

I’m sure by now you know that Instagram can attract engaged traffic to your website. But how do you build a loyal following, get traffic to your site, and make actual sales?

That is what I set out to learn and simplify for you.

Here are some of the highlights I discovered in my rigorous study:

But perhaps you are wondering …

Why Should I Market My Business on Instagram?

Instagram marketing tips for business

Great question.

Let me count the ways for you:

  1. According to Statista, Instagram has more than 500,000,000 users (and counting), which is significantly more than Twitter, SnapChat, and LinkedIn.
  2. While Instagram is a few users shy of Facebook’s 1.7 billion users, according to Forrester, Instagram has 10 times the engagement of Facebook. From our survey, we discovered that Instagram engagement rates continued to be high when the traffic is directed toward visiting a website.
  3. And since Facebook owns Instagram, it’s no surprise that there are benefits in using both platforms. In fact, Buzzsumo found a 23% increase in engagement for Instagram posts on Facebook’s feed.

In the words of Jack Sparrow…

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Ready to take your business to the next level?

Then let’s dive into the data with 19 power tips to help market your business on Instagram:

Marketing Tip #1: Understand Instagram’s Value for Your Business

Is Instagram marketing right for your business?

No matter what social media platform you choose, you’ll want to make sure you are invested in a platform that will return positive results.

Even with more than 500 million active users, there’s a chance that the majority of your audience may not be on Instagram.

According to the Pew Research, 55% of Instagram users are 18-29 years old, 28% are 30-49 years old, 11% of all users are 50-64 years old, and just 4% are 65 or older.

What does that mean for your business?

If you serve an audience that is predominantly under the age of 50, there’s a high likelihood that your customers are on Instagram. If your target audience is 50-64, I’d recommend testing Instagram for three months to see if you get any sales.

You can always test Instagram for those over the age of 65, but you may be better off using another platform, like Facebook, where they are more active.

Don’t write Instagram off if you are a brick-and-mortar store. You can use geo-locations to personalize the experience for Instagrammers near you. Here’s what Rachael Samuels of Sprout Social had to say:


Brands often don’t capitalize on using geo-locations for engagement. Monitoring geotags and engaging with them is a great way to personalize your audience’s experience with your brand and extend beyond a brick-and-mortar experience. Geotags enable you to find user-generated content that you can repurpose to add authenticity to what you share.

Marketing Tip #2: Use Facebook Insights to Find Strategic Partners on Instagram

How to market your business on instagram

Facebook holds a treasure trove of valuable information about your customers.

Not only can you learn valuable insights into your customers, Facebook can also help you generate ideas for key partners.

Here’s how you can leverage this information to grow your Instagram at Mach speed:

    1. Head over to Facebook’s Audience Insights.
    2. Create a custom audience and upload your customer email list to Facebook. If you do not have an email list, select “everyone on Facebook.”Using Facebook audience for Instagram
      From there, you can tell Facebook what you know and what you believe may be true. I like to know their age, gender, and one or two interests.
    3. After making a few selections, click on Page Likes to see what top categories they follow.Using Facebook Insights for Instagram
      I personally found out that Australian women between 25-34 years old who also like organic food and coffee, are either thinking about marriage or have a kid, probably buy from stores like Michael Kors and Tiffany & Co., and are obsessed with Channing Tatum.

How can you use this information for your Instagram marketing?

Using this example, I could run an Instagram contest for free tickets to the next Channing Tatum movie. Or I could take a picture of a coffee mug, with a bag from Michael Kors conveniently placed in the background.

If I was real savvy, I might partner with Tiffany & Co. to co-brand my next line of coffee beans.

If you can show your audience that you understand their needs, they will open up their hearts. Then, price will soon become a mere triviality.

Marketing Tip #3: Find Key Instagram Influencers To Partner With

Find Instagram influencers

Many marketers agree that influencer marketing attracts high quality visitors and customers.

In fact, on average, businesses generate $6.50 in revenue for each $1 invested in influencer marketing.

So let’s look at how you can use influencer marketing to rapidly grow your business on Instagram.

1. Start by doing a Google search for Instagram influencers in your niche.

A simple way to do this is by typing “top [niche] Instagram accounts.” So if you sold women’s business clothes, you might try “top women’s fashion Instagram accounts.”

The article results you find may not be an exact match. But in this step, you are just trying to get a starting list together.

2. Compile the names of all the influencers into a spreadsheet.

I recommend making a column for their name, a link to their Instagram account, a link to their website, follower count, email, website and notes.

This information will come in handy when you reach out to partner with these influencers later on.

3. Look at the last three posts the influencer shared.

Ask yourself: Is the content shared relevant to your business?

If not, put the influencer into a new list of similar influencers. These influencers may be worth building partnerships with later on, but I’d recommend first starting with those most closely related to your niche.

If they are relevant to your business, fill out the rest of the columns with any information you find.

How can you strategically partner with these influencers?

Share-for-shares (or “S4S”) and paid shoutouts are two well known influencer marketing tactics. I’ll share those tactics shortly, followed my favorite tactic, which Lord and Taylor used to sell out of a new product in two days.

Marketing Tip #4: Share For Shares

Instagram marketing tip: share for shares

After finding similar accounts that reach the audience you want to connect with, one of the simplest ways to rapidly grow your Instagram account is participating in a “share for shares.”

Here’s a simple process you can follow:

  1. Look for influencers in your niche who have a similar amount of followers as you do (if you’ve completed the previous step, you’re already halfway there!).
  2. Send the influencer a message on Instagram (or on Kik, the preferred platform for many Instagrammers), asking if they’d be up for a share-for-share (or say S4S, if you want to be really up to date).
  3. Got their approval? Great. Identify a post from the influencer’s feed you think would resonate well with your audience.
  4. Post the influencer’s pic on your feed, with a simple call to action to follow that influencer.

Here’s an example of Magnate Life doing an S4S with SumoMe:

Double tap if you agree ➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖Go follow @SumoMe for the best biz motivation on Instagram 👉 @SumoMe 👉 @SumoMe

A photo posted by The Do’s And Don’ts Of (@magnatelist) on

Marketing Tip #5: Paid Shoutouts

Instagram paid shoutouts

Time is money. While free tactics can be great, sometimes it’s worth investing a little into your business.

If you have a little money to spend, a paid shoutout can be an effective way to grow your following.

John Rampton from had this advice on doing paid shout outs with influencers:


I like searching for people with “Kik” in their description. Typically these are people you can pay to promote your product. Pricing ranges from $5 – $250 for a photo and a shoutout to your account. I know companies who have had a CPI (cost per install) down to $.07 per app download.

If you want to get a higher number of influencers interested in helping you out, make it as easy as possible for someone to say yes.

Jack Meredith from Kettle and Fire had this to say:


The key is to make it as easy as possible for the influencer to give you a shoutout. Do things like attach ready-to-use images and a pre-written caption they can copy/paste that matches their brand. Most influencers are open to negotiating on price if you allow them to delete the photo after a certain amount of time.

Like its free cousin, these shoutouts can work just like a S4S. If you use a paid shoutout, you will want to be more diligent to make sure these campaigns are worth the investment. I recommend you do these 3 things:

  1. Make sure the influencer posts the shoutout, as advertised.
  2. Use tools like INK361 to find the best times for them to share a post.
  3. If they ask, don’t pay for your post to be up more than a day, as most engagement stops after the first 24 hours.

While paid shoutouts can get you some solid results, if you really want to step up your game, try this next tactic:

Marketing Tip #6: Get Record-Breaking Sales Using “The Surround Sound Effect”

Retarget followers on Instagram

Ever wish you could sell your season’s inventory in a weekend?

On March of 2015, Lord and Taylor did just that. Working with 50 Instagram fashionistas, Lord and Taylor campaigned one of the latest dresses from their Design Lab.

Many posts generated more than 1,000 likes each, some seeing more than 13,500 likes for their post.

Curating and working hand-in-hand with each influencer was one part to this campaign’s success.

But most overlook another key point: By having many influencers talking about their product at the same time, Lord and Taylor created a surround sound effect.

In marketing terms, this is like a retargeting campaign.

And if you weren’t sure how powerful retargeting can be, consider these stats by

  • Retargeting can increase a brand in Google search by 1,046%.
  • The average click-through rate is 10 times higher than display ads without any retargeting.
  • Visitors who are retargeted are 70% more likely to buy than visitors who are not.

Be aware that paying influencers without a clear disclosure may result in a hefty fine. In fact, Lord and Taylor got fined by the FTC for not getting their ducks in a row.

This tactic is a bit pricier, but the payoff can be significantly higher.

A twist to this approach is to create a surround sound effect around your target influencers. Here’s what Brian Swichkow from Ghost Influence says:

Brian Swichkow

I like identifying those whom I want to influence and, rather than approach them directly, research who they follow and fire across their bow.

While major influencers will charge $1,000s per post, those that influence them are often happy to receive a compliment and free products. By pushing a product to several of them in succession, you dominate the feed of your intended influencer and foster the “I’m seeing your brand everywhere!” reaction.

By passively seeding the idea that influencers should reach out to you, you cut your influencer marketing budget by upwards of 90%. Just don’t tell anyone you’re doing it … or write about it in an article.

Marketing Tip #7: Leverage The Right Hashtags To Expedite Your Growth

Instagram strategy for brands

If you’re familiar with other social platforms, this tip may sound silly. Twitter hashtags seems to attract spam and Facebook’s engagement decreases with hashtags.

But on Instagram, posts with at least one hashtag gain 12.6% more engagement.

Instagram was built as a discovery platform. Many people on Instagram use hashtags as a way of finding new photos and new people to follow.

In fact, Jonathan Chan of Foundr Mag found hashtags to be a powerful way to build a community. Here’s what he had to say:


Spend some time doing hashtag research and figure out which 5-10 hashtags you want to target.

Think about which hashtags you want to associate with your brand. Which hashtags do you believe your potential followers are following?

From there, just jump into trending posts that use those hashtags. Then comment and tag others in those photos to build a community of loyal followers around your account.

Alternatively, you can use hashtags to steal your competitors’ followers. Here’s Richard Lazazzera, founder of A Better Lemonade Stand gave his advice:


Your competitors have already done a lot of the hard work for you, use this to your advantage. Find a large account in your niche (by doing hashtag research) and follow them. Instagram will show you three additional large accounts that are similar. Follow these accounts.

Stealing your competitors’ followers is as simple as flirting with them through engagement. There are several ways to engage with Instagram users: follow a user, like a photo, comment on a photo, and direct message.

So how do you get the most followers? I did an informal test for an Instagram post I wrote on the Shopify blog.

Here are the results:

– Follow: 14% followback

– Follow + Like: 22% followback

– Follow + Like + Comment: 34% followback

Even though this was a relatively small test, it’s pretty clear (and expected) that the more work you put in, the more you’ll get out of it.

If you notice, when someone searches for photos using hashtags, there are two sections:

Top posts and most recent posts Instagram

By using the right hashtags, you can easily expand the reach of your post and find yourself trending on many hashtags.

What are the right hashtags to use?

Look through the pictures posted by influencers in your niche. What hashtags do they use? Write these down as potential hashtags to use.

Another great way to find a popular hashtag for your category is to use Tags For Likes.

Popular Instagram hashtags

Be sure that each hashtag you use is relevant, not just popular.

Pro-tip: To keep your image post clean, after you post your picture, you can then copy and paste your hashtags as a comment.

Marketing Tip #8: Begin With The End in Mind

Instagram marketing plan

If you knew that every hour you spent on Instagram would result in $100, would you do it? What if you invested $100 in ads and received $500 back? Sounds like a great way to print money, if you ask me.


But the only way to know those numbers is if you track your progress. And to know you are progressing in the right direction, you will want to have a goal or two in mind.

Begin by setting up a 90-day plan for Instagram.

What should you track in your 90-day plan? Here’s what Shanelle Mullin from ConversionXL had to say:


As with any marketing effort, your primary goal should be money in the bank. Sure, a bump in traffic is nice, but if you’re not generating revenue, the ROI is limited. After all, that bump in traffic will quickly trail off.

Ensure your site is optimized for conversions before investing in an Instagram influencer campaign. Then, make sure your campaign is highly targeted. (One hundred $50 purchases is better than thousands of uninterested visitors who don’t fit your ideal customer profile).

When possible, tie everything back to revenue generation.

Tying your marketing to revenue is challenging, but well worth the effort.

If you don’t know how to do this yet, I would recommend tracking traffic to your website. As Shanelle said, more relevant traffic directed to your website will result in sales.

From there, your next goal should be the number of followers. While increasing your follower count is a vanity metric, the more people that follow you, the more traffic you can potentially get.
To attract followers to your website, I recommend you …

Marketing Tip #9: Create a Benefit-Driven Instagram Bio

Create a benefit-drive Instagram bio

One of the oddities of Instagram is that you can’t add links within your posts.

So how do you reckon we get traffic to our site, Jason?

While there are ways around this restriction, a well-crafted bio that demonstrates a clear benefit can bring many visitors to your site.

Not sure how to create a benefit-driven bio?

You can use a formula like this one: “I help [target audience] solve [irritating problem they have] by [your solution]. Learn more at [your website].”

Once you’ve filled out this template, you can re-word your bio until it is smooth like butter.

For instance:

I help internet entrepreneurs connect with influencers so they can rapidly grow their business together.

Finally, add in a strong call to action with a trackable link to your website, a landing page, or a product you sell.

A trackable link will help you know that Instagram is a worthwhile traffic source for your business.

Marketing Tip #10: Develop an Effective Content Strategy for Instagram

Develop an effective content strategy for Instagram

Many ambitious business owners miss this crucial step.

If you want to build an audience that turns strangers into fans, and fans into customers, you need a clear plan how you will attract that audience.

Will your pictures educate your fans? How so? Will you strive to entertain them? In what ways? Or will you seek to inspire your audience?

Your goal is to figure out how you will captivate your audience on Instagram and stand out from the noise.

When developing a content strategy, it’s important to consider effective photos and a theme that drives what photos to share. Here’s how top brands do it:

  • Buffer shares content related to productivity, motivation, and the digital nomadic lifestyle. Additionally, most of the photos are created by their fans.
  • Foundr and SumoMe share motivational business quotes to inspire their audience.
  • Cofounders With Class offers styling tips to help men be more confident and close more sales.

Remember, you want to make sure that your plan is both effective and scalable. Mike Allton of The Social Media Hat had this to say:


My most effective Instagram technique was to create a sustainable posting strategy that my target audience would be interested in and I could recreate with ease.

In my case, it was motivational business quotes. I used a variety of Google Searches to discover great lists of appropriate quotes, and then used Typorama to create graphics. This resulted in a 100% growth in followers within 6 months.

Alternatively, if you focus on creating a meaningful narrative, you can captivate your audience with a powerful story. In particular, you can use Instagram stories to add a personal touch.

Here’s how Ross Simmonds of Hustle and Grind creates a captivating story using “Story Storms”:


Of all the creative ways to use Instagram Stories, the idea of Story Storms is one of my favorites. Similar to what Justin Kan and Mark Suster do on Snapchat with Snapstorms, Story Storms are a series of video snippets that tell one cohesive message.

If someone watches each video to the end of your story, it’s obvious the message resonated with them. On Instagram, you can see who watched your stories and who made it to the end.

Then, you can reach out individually to these folks to say “Thank you” or ask for feedback. It’s at this moment when you have the opportunity to build a relationship with your fans that will last for years to come.

Still looking for new content ideas? Consider the newsjacking approach…

Marketing Tip #11: Use Newsjacking To Ride the Social Wave

Instagram marketing tip: follow trends

Many social media sites make it easy to spot trends. Why not make it easier on yourself by creating content around what’s already hot?

On Facebook, you can look at the trending feed in the right sidebar to see what people are talking about:

Trending on Facebook

Twitter is similar, with trends just below your profile pic:

Trending on Twitter

Like newsjacking, you can also…

Marketing Tip #12: Source Proven Content From Reddit and Buzzsumo

Source content for Instagram

Sometimes, it is all too easy to complicate a simple process.

Want to find content that’s extremely share-worthy? Look for proven content on other sites and create something similar.

One of the easiest ways I do this is by checking out Reddit or Buzzsumo.

Reddit has over 970,000 communities (called “subreddits”) all based on people’s interests. Whether your interest is in slow cooking, augmented reality, or you are curious to follow where is Julian Assange, there’s a subreddit for you.

To find popular content on Reddit in your niche, simply:

1. Type in your niche in the search bar

Search content on Reddit

2. Click “Limit to subreddit” to see a list of subreddits related to that topic.

Search subreddits for Instagram ideas

3. Each of those links will take you to a subreddit, where you can find the top content of that community.

Top content on Reddit can inspire for Instagram posts

Now you have a list of proven content ideas for your Instagram account!

The same process can be used for Buzzsumo. Buzzsumo scours the internet for the most shared articles on social media. A savvy marketer can take those ideas and spin it into an Instagram post.

Start with a search on Buzzsumo for your topic:

Find great content ideas for Instagram on Buzzsumo

And find a list of yummy ideas to post about:

Finding ideas for social posts

Now, all that is left is to create a picture that fits these ideas.

But let’s say you’ve got popular posts on Instagram. How do you increase your engagement even more?

Marketing Tip #13: Use Scientific Evidence to Get 38% More Instagram Likes

Get more Instagram likes

A study from Georgia Tech and Yahoo Labs looked at 1.1 million pictures on Instagram to learn what gets the most engagement. One key finding they discovered is that pictures with faces get 38% more likes and 32% more comments.

Like any research you come across, you should always test to see how well an idea works for your customers. But if all else is equal, try adding a few more smiling faces.

Marketing Tip #14: Pick The Best Instagram Filters, According to Science

Best Instagram filters

If proving the success of selfies was not enough, the team at Georgia Tech and Yahoo Labs released yet another engaging Instagram study.

This time, they examined 7.6 million photos on Instagram and Flickr to find out how filters affect engagement.

The results?

By using the right filters, you can increase likes by 21% and comments by 45%.

In particular, warm tones (such as red and yellow) with higher contrasts and exposure performed best. Filters with cooler colors (like blue and green) or high saturation were connected with slightly lower views.

Interestingly enough, artificial aging effects often resulted in lower comments.

You can’t just add a filter on a photo and expect it to go viral. But that doesn’t mean you should completely discount the research either.

Marketing Tip #15: Experiment With Instagram Ads

Experiment with Instagram ads

Salesforce was a launch partner for Instagram’s advertising platform. They discovered their cost per 1000 Impressions (CPM) was 90% higher than Facebook, coming in at $6.29.

That said, there are two reasons why I believe Instagram ads are worth the investment:

  1. When running Facebook and Instagram ads together, MVMT Watches saw a 20% lower cost per conversion than Facebook ads alone. This cost reduction makes investing in both channels more lucrative.
  2. The second thought is to reframe how you think about advertising. If you paid $100 to get $1,000 in business, how often would you invest into that marketing campaign? For most small businesses, the goal should not be to measure the cost per click or impression. Rather, you should measure what the cost per sale (or acquisition) is compared to how much they bought. By measuring your results from the click to the sale, you will have a clearer picture on how effective your marketing efforts are.

For image-based ads, you want to make sure you use photos that capture your audience’s attention.

One of the easiest ways to do this is by using photos of your audience using your product.

Here’s some insight from Ezra Firestone, CMO and Cofounder of Boom! by Cindy Joseph:


We found images and videos that demonstrate the benefit and demonstrate the product in action are by far our best and highest converting photos for Instagram.

Paid amplification of engaging ownership benefit driven videos and images is your quickest path to scale on Instagram.

Marketing Tip #16: Call Your Audience To Action!

Call your Instagram audience to action

Not getting enough results? Perhaps you need to call your audience to action.

Listen to what Nathan Resnick, CEO of TrySourcify had to say:


Calling your audience to action is one of the best ways to grow on Instagram. Not only will you see a noticeable increase in engagement, you will also get more organic engagement as well.

Similar to the way Facebook’s newsfeed works, Instagram now has its own algorithm that shows more people your photo when more people engage with it.

Here are four quick-n-easy call-to-actions to try:

  1. Ask a question to start a conversation. What’s the easiest way to get someone to respond? Answer: Ask a dead simple question. Suit Details used this tactic by polling their audience:Example of Instagram engagement questions
  2. Tag someone if… A new fan has liked your recent photo. How likely do they know someone else just like them? If birds of the same feather flock together, here’s a simple way to get new followers. Just end your comment with “Tag someone if…” and watch the comments come flooding in! Similar to this approach, you can also ask them to…
  3. Double tap if you agree. As simple as it sounds, asking your audience to like your post has never been easier. Many people browse their photo feed without much thought. By giving them a prompt to like your photo (a double tap likes a photo on Instagram), you may find planting this simple thought gets them to take your desired action.

Perhaps some of these tactics seem strange to you. But given the right prompt, people will like, tag, and comment on these posts all day long.

Marketing Tip #17: Emojis: A Simple Ingredient to Boost Social Engagement

Boost social engagement using emojis

In the world of digital media, emojis have become a new language.

Originating on Japanese mobile phones in the late 1990s, emojis have spread on the Internet like wildfire. Oddly enough, they may do the same for your social media posts.

In 2015, Larry Kim, founder and CTO of online advertising agency WordStream discovered an emoji tweet had a 25.4% higher engagement compared to its plain, emoji-less cousin.

Although this study was done on Twitter, chances are high that the same is true for Instagram. The use of emojis has nearly tripled from 2014 to 2015.

Use of emojis in social media

Source: Oxford Dictionaries

Perhaps you’ll see this kind of growth when you use emojis on Instagram.

Marketing Tip #18: Use Instagram Tools to Optimize Your Business

Use Instagram tools to optimize your business

Doing marketing right takes time… Time which could be invested in other areas.

After you’ve become familiar with Instagram, you can explore different tools to optimize your input and output on the platform. Here are four tools worth checking out:

Crowdfire – Every Instagram account is limited to following 7,500 people.

For those that like to follow every Tom, Harry, and Sally that likes or comments on their photo and found themselves at this limit, Crowdfire is there for you.

Crowdfire is a simple tool to see who is not following you and quickly unfollow those people.

INK361 – What if there’s a way to find out when your followers are most likely to engage with your account? Turns out, there’s a tool for that.

INK361 allows you to find important metrics on any Instagram account.

You can easily examine the most liked and commented on posts, find handy metrics when their followers are most active, and even compare and contrast their engagement ratings with other accounts.

This tool is especially handy when doing shoutouts with other Instagrammers.

Pablo + Buffer – Not a visual artist? Nor am I.

With over 600,000 rights-free images to choose from, Pablo is a simple tool that can help you create simple posts to add to your Instagram feed.

And once you are ready to post your picture onto Instagram, Buffer will help you share your photo right when your audience is most engaged.

Marketing Tip #19: Use Shoppable Instagram to Sell Your Products On The Platform

Use shoppable Instagram to sell products

Wouldn’t it be great if someone who likes your photos and products could buy them on Instagram, right then and there?

Instagram announced they are allowing business owners to use shoppable photos.

Unfortunately for you, unless you were one of the select corporate brands, you won’t have access to Instagram’s new technology.

Fortunately for you, Yotpo’s Shoppable Instagram gives you a simple, three-step process to sell your products on Instagram.

Check this out:

Shoppable Instagram buying process

One advantage of this over the average industry tool:

  1. Readily available user reviews. Reviews help give us peace-of-mind that a product will be great, before we buy it. Integrating user-generated content into a Shoppable Instagram means your followers can see past buyers’ reviews right on Instagram.
  2. Tag multiple products. Do you have multiple products in your pictures? With Shoppable Instagram, you can tag each product to interest your customers in buying it.
  3. Built-in social proof. Another great way to know if a product will work is seeing other people buy it. Yotpo’s Shoppable Instagram allows your customers to see the number of purchases made in the last 30 days.

Yotpo’s Shoppable Instagram can give you the edge you need to beat out your competition and sell more products online. But as I’ve mentioned before, it’s always best to test the process for yourself.

Over to you: Have you used Instagram to grow your business? If so, what tips would you add? If not, what have you found to be effective ways to get results on your social media platforms?


Yotpo Instagram Marketing Infographic

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