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Foursquare Now Allows Check-ins Anywhere: Top 10 Ideas List

Using Foursquare to build your Real Estate Connections in 2010

Using Foursquare to build your Real Estate Connections in 2010

FoursquareFor those of your who have incorporated Social Media and/or SOI (sphere of influence) building into your 2010 business plan, Foursquare can be an integral part of establishing, building and strengthening your presence and participation in your local community.  Foursquare is a geo-social online and mobile application where members (it’s free to join) check-in when they go places about town.  Once checked-in, they can see who else has been there, who goes there most often (top visitors are awarded the “Mayor” title for that location) or possibly get discounts and coupons.  On a geo-social front, it’s a fun, easy way to communicate with others in your community.  There is a competitive side to Foursquare as well as people try to oust each other for mayorships or gain more badges and points.

For geo-social geeks like me, this can just be fun in and of itself, but for business minded people, you can take the fun and build on it to expand your outreach and conversation with other members in your local community.

Foursquare just announced January 6, 2010 that it now allows check-ins anywhere, not just select “big” markets as it had up until now. This is huge and will open up the fun and games in all cities, large and small.   The fun and usefulness of Foursquare can only be maximized when many members are checking in, so it is a great time to help build a Foursquare-using community right in your own back-yard.

Top 10 Ways to Build Your Business in 2010 with Foursquare:

  1. Twitter and Foursquare go hand-in-hand (Foursquare can push check-in into to Twitter and the users request) so why not set up a search in Twitter for Foursquare check-ins in your community and then either follow the people on Foursquare and/or Twitter or comment on Twitter right while they are there with a tip or suggestion for that location “Hey, saw you checked in a Coco Loco’s Coffee Shack – Love the Coconut Chai there”
  2. As you roam your own community and check-in, people on Twitter will see you in the community (via Foursquare and Twitter, or even Facebook (see below) and might follow you, friend you on Foursquare or comment as well (plus, since Twitter is indexed from time to time, more opportunity to have your name and your community linked)
  3. If you have a favorite haunt or location, and you see others checking in there as well, this gives you another great connection point to chat about (ie books, sports, steak, etc.) with your new friends.  We all love to connect with those who share our same interests.
  4. If you have a large or unique area (botanical garden, historic downtown, etc.) you could create a Flickr group for that location and use Fourquare to find members of that group.
  5. If Foursquare is new to your area, create a video or other tutorial on how fun it is and how to use it and blog about it to help create the momentum in your community as Foursquare grows.  Be the trend-setter helping people join the trend.
  6. If you see a location being checked-into often or a person rising in the local stats, blog about them (with permission) and have a weekly or monthly Foursquare Highlight Post(s).  People and businesses love to see their name in lights.
  7. Create a google map of local check-ins and locations and in the location description, add a link back to the Foursquare page for that location (even better if you are the Mayor 😉 Here is an example of a map I created for coffee spots in Coral Gables, FL, if you click on the icon, you will see the Foursquare link in there.
  8. Host a local Foursquare competition. Either have a scavenger hunt where the teams score for the first check-ins on the hunt or have a “Who Can Oust the Mayor, Win the Most Points, or Add the Most Locations” contest.  People love games and they love to be featured.
  9. Host a Foursquare Meetup at a location that might give special bonuses or incentives to Fourquare users. Another great way to blog about your community and engage with the people around you.
  10. Foursquare can also push to Facebook, so if you like, you can activate this option and help share Foursquare with your Facebook friends as well as your check-ins, etc.

Bonus: For the tech-geeks, there are several APIs available, including an WordPress plug-in and a REALLY cool Heat Map you can use to further your use and reach of Foursquare.

Soooo, if you were wondering how you can use geo-social applications for business and for fun, Foursquare can be just the ticket.  If you were not using Foursquare before because it was not available in your city, it is now, so have fun!

If you have a fun story or use for Foursquare, I’d love to hear about it!

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Written By

Janie has been in the development, construction and real estate industries for over 20 years. She began her career in commerical construction and has slowly worked into all of the related industries and added residential properties to her resume 7 years ago. She is currently the co-owner of sister companies, Papillon Real Estate and Papillon ReDevelopment (a construction and project management firm). Janie blogs for The Coral Gables Story. In her "free" time, she is a graduate student of Atlantic History with a focus on the history of business and technology. She is a lover of geo-anything. She loves the story.



  1. Duke Long

    January 13, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    It’s official I have to get on this ,Thanks Jani on the ,This is why and How To.

    • Janie Coffey

      January 14, 2010 at 9:29 am

      Duke, make sure to “friend me” on 4square, it is fun to see where friends in other cities roam…

  2. Ric Dizon

    January 13, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Another great reason to embrace Foursquare. The tips are awesome! Tell me more about the use with Flickr.

    • Janie Coffey

      January 14, 2010 at 9:39 am

      Hi Ric

      For example, if there is a photogenic spot in your area (park, location, etc) you could set up a Flickr group for that spot then track when Foursquare people check in there and ask them to join your group. I just started a Flickr group and will be setting up alterts for checkins to ask people to join the group… You can email me if you need more help on setting up a group.

      • Ric Dizon

        January 18, 2010 at 3:10 am


        Thanks for the tip on using Foursquare with Flickr. You are awesome and grateful for sharing these great tips. I will email you for more details.


  3. Fred Romano

    January 13, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Sorry, this website sounds REALLY stupid, and I can not see any way you can benefit or make money using it. Lets get serious now find more productive ways to make some cash!

    • Janie Coffey

      January 14, 2010 at 9:41 am

      Hi Fred

      We take the long-term approach for our business prospecting. MOST of our sales come from our Sphere of Influence and, for us, Foursquare is a very good way to grow our very targeted SOI both by similar interest and location. It would not be productive, of course, for those who do not have a sphere of influence component to their business model.

  4. Bob

    January 13, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    With all due respect, this is not marketing or prospecting. It is game playing.

    • Janie Coffey

      January 14, 2010 at 9:42 am

      I think it all depends on how you play the game 😉 – with 75% of our sales coming from SOI, it is a game that works pretty well for us.

  5. LesleyLambert

    January 14, 2010 at 1:56 am

    It IS game playing, but you can play the game to make money. You aren’t looking at this the right way folks…Janine is on to something ESPECIALLY IMHO w the meetup idea. Social media works best when there is a face to face element. This is a fabulous way of meeting new people who share your interests, when you meet new people you are meeting potential clients.

    • Janie Coffey

      January 14, 2010 at 9:45 am

      Lesley, that is right, it’s taking those on-line connections and strengthening them IRL. What if you invited all the Foursquare people checking into a local fun spot for a meetup there? You already know they like it. It all comes down to each agents lead generation mix. We have a pretty high SM and SOI component to our business model and it is the one that returns (and keeps returning) the highest conversion….

  6. Benn Rosales

    January 14, 2010 at 9:41 am

    It doesn’t take a monkey to see that this is geo location training. The trend is “where are my friends and what are they doing.” Call it a game if you want, I call it knowing where my sphere is and can we get them to check in at our listing or open house? or even an impromptu meeting one on one because you’re announcing availability to your sphere in a fast paced new media world.

    I’m not using it just yet, but the implications beyond the foursquare concept for real estate are good for listing and buyer agents.

    • Janie Coffey

      January 14, 2010 at 9:49 am

      Benn, you are right, goe location is just starting. There will always be detractors to just about anything and that is OK. There are business models and methods for everyone’s personal interests, target clients and community. There are those that do a great business by “push” campaigns (mailings, expireds, PPC, etc.) who need to generate large quantities of “leads” to funnel through. There are those have a 100% SOI business model where it is all about a small number of highly engaged and connected contacts. And there are hybrids. Social Media in just about any form really doesn’t work for the ones who look for the high quantity one touch lead machine. To each his own (hence my first sentence preface to the post).

  7. Matt Stigliano

    January 14, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Janie – It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote about Foursquare here on AgentGenius and opined that although it might be a “game” there was some value to it. My ideas were based on the simple theory of “top of mind awareness.” The people in my location that I interact with in social media circles love things like this (we have a great social media circle here in San Antonio that seems to grow larger every day) and we have become more connected as we interact via Foursquare. It has developed into more conversations with people I may not have otherwise known.

    I suggested as well checking into listings and subdivisions as you traverse your city. If I’m going to do a piece on “Scenic Westover Hills” for my blog, why wouldn’t I also want to check in – a gentle reminder to those that follow me of what I do for a living and what I’m checking out that day for my blog or clients.

    I think the point that is missed with Foursquare is it’s ability to connect like-minded people through businesses they frequent. Just recently I met a local baker who makes amazing cupcakes through Foursquare, when they ousted me as mayor of a Starbucks. How is that relevant? We each know each other now – connection. Is she buying a house today? No. Might she buy one someday? Yes. Would she hire me if she didn’t even know I existed? No. Would she hire me now that she does? Only time (and my connection to her) will tell. The key is that she is one more person that I may never have met in real life, but now we are connected and talking.

    • Janie Coffey

      January 14, 2010 at 11:35 am

      Hi Matt, that is exactly it, the CONNECTION. with like minded people none-the-less. I tried to create a list of useful ways to use Foursquare to do just that. Of course, for those who have a different business model, one based on number and not connections, it wouldn’t work so well. In Miami we to have a pretty strong tech community and that is where they are hanging out, why wouldn’t I want to be there to? Top of mind, my friend, top of mind 😉

  8. Bob

    January 14, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    So that explains why all the real estate panels on social media are stacked with producers who are doing 50-100+ deals a year from SM?

    • Fred Romano

      January 14, 2010 at 6:57 pm

      LOL yeah what Bob says… It seems ridiculous to think that wasting time with this will earn a “real” commission.

      • Janie Coffey

        January 14, 2010 at 7:29 pm

        Fred, I do try to make sure all my commissions are “real” ;-). It’s always been a top priority of mine.

  9. Bob

    January 16, 2010 at 1:32 am

    “Effective marketing depends on reliable targeting. And reliable targeting depends on established patterns. And established patterns depend on sustained behaviors. And sustained behaviors depend on things we find useful. Otherwise, we’re marketing via fad, condemning ourselves to spending our professional lives and our client’s ad dollars chasing fluff in a hurricane. Our audience will always be “just passing through” on the way to the next thing.”

    From “Chasing Digital Fluff – Who Cares about What’s Hot?” by Gord Hotchkiss

    SOI is not the same as social media, and it doesn’t take a game to market to your sphere. Chris Heller, one of the top agents in the US, is religious about marketing to his SOI and past clients. Every day he sends a specified number of handwritten notes to them so that by the end of the year he has contacted the close to 3,000 past clients. He spends less time reaching more people than most engaging in SM games where there is just enough results to keep the hype alive. In the meantime all the while agents and brokers who have traded in sales skills for SM are going broke.

    • Janie Coffey

      January 16, 2010 at 9:15 am

      Bob, Fred and all the Anti-Social Mediacs out there… I get it. Point Made, Loud and Clear. You do not believe in using SM. But I do. And I know what Social Media is and I know what SOI is, I also know where they cross and where they don’t. I can engage with and build my SOI however works for me. And should you choose not to, that is OK as well. We all have choices on how we develop our business. Good for how you build yours, good for Chris on how he builds his and good for Fred. I think I can name 100 different ways to build a real estate business and each agent needs to select the one(s) that work best for their 1) personality 2) budget 3) skill set 4) target audience 5) desired results, etc.

      There is CLEARLY a line in the sand with SM on where each agent stands. Very few are neutral. We know where you all are and many others stand. What I do not and have not understood is for those who don’t use a certain business building method, why the hostility? Why the aggressive need to slam it? Why the desire to tell everyone what they are doing is wrong? Do you and the others feel as strongly about marketing to expireds? About attending monthly community chamber of commerce events? About calling random strangers for 3 hours a day asking if they know anyone who needs to buy or sell real estate? About advertising on bus benches or billboards? Why does this particular “method” (social media) strike such ire in the hearts of men? It is just bizarre to me. I will say one thing, if I had not tried, really tried to do something, I would never say that it doesn’t work. I personally would never call people and pester them, I wouldn’t get bus benches, I wouldn’t drop by at random times with trinkets. Those don’t fit MY personality but many people have tried them and done really really well. They found what worked for them and they are committed to it. Now, if I had tried something, whole-heartedly for a sustained length of time and it didn’t work, then I might go ahead and say “Hey, this doesn’t work, don’t waste your time”, but short of basing my opinion on my own best efforts and attempts, I would not feel qualified to make that judgment call. Maybe that is just me.

      Now, the nay sayers might be right and I am SURE that MANY agents (and people in general) waste time being overly social with no plan or intent on SM (or in many other ways as well) and there ARE Gurus out there selling (not just to the real estate industry by the way) the newest flavor of coolaid, but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.


      And by the way, I really don’t believe in “Marketing” to my SOI at all. I believe in engaging with them, connecting with them and being a real person for them, I am happy to say I call them friends. I “market” to strangers with different strategies than social media, but that is a different post entirely.

  10. Carson

    January 16, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    My comment has nothing to do with foursquare or social media… but this jumped out at me:

    “Effective marketing depends on reliable targeting.”

    Too much emphasis on reaching the ‘right people’ or even ‘more people’ can distract us from the real challenge: Saying the right thing. Any effort to reach more or better people, even if it is more fun, eats up valuable time that can be spent on relaying the right proposition… or finding out what it is.

    I’m all for social media and targeting… but with weak selling points and no real impact, whats the point? I sign up for all kinds of real estate lists and get a lot of ‘messages’ thrown at me by agents, builders, etc. What I see is a bunch of boring crap, nobody makes a compelling argument or entertains me. Sameness. Too much media not enough message.

    Of course, this applies to any industry. Message isn’t the highest priority because it isn’t cut and dry, and great ideas are hard to come by. Copywriting isn’t fun or new. Technology is.

  11. Thomas Johnson

    January 16, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Still waiting on Blackberry 4square app. My opinion is that the people with jobs and credit reports carry more blackberry than iphone/android. If we can get our market doing real estate on their blackberries, we win.

  12. amy cesario

    January 16, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    The Blackberry app was released recently. I have been using the beta site and the basic web site via my BB for months! Thanks for sharing the ideas and information. I’m excited for the new releases and have ideas brewing! For all the agents who don’t believe in it, good.:-) The greatest part about our business is that it isn’t a one size fits all, an application or game like this will be used hundreds of different ways!

  13. Susie Blackmon

    January 17, 2010 at 7:41 am

    I have problems with FS and my BB so can’t actively check-in, but what I see with regard to FourSquare is a great opportunity for the businesses to promote specials, etc.

  14. Judy Moriarty

    January 17, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Janie – thanks for the great tips for using Foursquare as a business tool. I’ve been having fun “playing” with it but hadn’t quite figured out how it fit into my SM business plan. Wonderful ideas – and easy to implement!

    For those that think it’s a waste of time and doesn’t work, I’d like to say I totally respect your opinion. If your current networking and marketing programs are working for you and bringing you a solid stream of closed sales and referrals, then carry on. If it isn’t, and we all know that definition of insanity, I just have to ask, why not try something new? You might be surprised by the results.

  15. Marc Pina

    January 17, 2010 at 9:46 am

    I am not super-techy or by any means an Agent Genius, but I will say this. We often, as Realtors, take ourselves too seriously. FourSquare is just one way to get away from the seriousness and monotony of our lives. Secondly, as Dennis Crowley stated during his presentation at #ICNY, there are new uses of FourSquare available and on the horizon. Via the use of API (and I profess to not fully understand API, etc., as I am a Realtor and not a software engineer), business owners will be able to know who is in their respective areas, how often and in what specific locations. This will have great application for all types of business owners. For example, a coffee shop looking to open up in a particular community will know when people go there, what time(s) and in what quantities. I think that’s valuable information.

    The bottom line is that if you don’t find it valuable, don’t use it.

    Regarding SM as a whole, I don’t think it is mandatory to our business (you won’t necessarily go the way of the dinosaur). I believe, however, that since there are over 300,000,000 people on Facebook alone, additional folks on Twitter, LinkedIn, Posterous, Tumblr, etc., why would you want to be in places that your clients and potential customers ARE NOT? Social media doesn’t REPLACE handwritten notes, phone calls, pop bys and the like, it is ANOTHER OPTION that a huge segment of the planet is using. Why run from it?

    Lastly, via FourSquare and Twitter, I have made relationships within the past 3 weeks that are life-changing. Keep in mind, I have no financial interest whatsoever in any of these platforms. I just believe that by completely dismissing something outright, especially if one has not tried it, that we are missing the boat. For me, the tool isn’t purely for financial game, but for personal well-being and growth as well. I’ve definitely had both of those as a result of these tools. Quite honestly, I’m shocked but so glad I met these folks and have FourSquare and Twitter to thank.

    Now back to your regularly scheduled program.

    • Janie Coffey

      January 17, 2010 at 12:01 pm

      Marc, I can’t agree more. The contacts I have made (locally and in the industry) have been invaluable. Social Media isn’t really new, it’s just social using DIFFERENT media, but the context is the same; Connect, engage, share, listen. Depending on your audience, it can be interwoven with however you were doing it before to ADD to the mix, not necessarily replace those touch methods.

      I think the detractors of Social Media do so because 1) their business model(s) is based on a large large number of inbound leads of new prospects which they then funnel from there so SM doesn’t make much sense as it is not a “quick fix” to a ready willing and able client or 2) they see a lot of wasted time and silliness and don’t look past that into what you really can get out of it, when used in a specific way rather than meandering all over.

      I stand firmly behind the concept that it is really dependent on the individual’s personality and business model to say if it works or doesn’t work for THEM.

  16. Dan Connolly

    January 17, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    I think I fall in the category of “detractors” because I have had some questions about some aspects SM in the past. I think that it’s important to understand that questions (at least for me) are just that…questions. Just because someone questions something, doesn’t always mean that they oppose it or hate it. I bring up what seems wrong about something (like foursquare) so I can hear the explanations, not to bash it. I haven’t understood how foursquare could incorporate into a business plan, but with the answers I am starting to see how it might work for some people. I think that if people use in in conjunction with other business gathering methods it could definitely have some value. It just seems to me that for someone starting out in the business, it would take a long time to build a business that could reliably pay the bills every month, focused only on social media for lead generation.

    I have been a part of twitter and facebook for a long time and I get a tremendous amount of knowledge from twitter. I don’t tweet much, but I read it every day. I also don’t tend to talk to strangers at parties and feel uncomfortable trying to get business from friends, so I have gone in the direction of lead generation. When you get a lot of calls every day from people who want to buy houses, and you hear of people struggling who are immersed in social media, sometimes these comments that sound negative are really just efforts to help people succeed.

    I have a wide circle of friends who are on facebook and I really enjoy keeping up with their lives and their pictures etc. and I do interact there, but mostly in a personal (not business) way. I totally get how the more you connect socially, the better you will do in the business, especially if you have the right kind of personality to make it work and enjoy working your SOI. I just think that for discussions to be productive that pros and cons should be brought up without hurting people’s feelings.

    • Janie Coffey

      January 17, 2010 at 3:59 pm

      Dan, this is exactly the kind of level-headed pro/con debate I would expect here on AG. With points, ideas, why something works for you, how you can see it might be different for others.

      On the continuum of real estate marketing from inbound lead generation one one end and SOI development on the other, I lie firmly in the middle. I actually think I put more effort, time, concentration and surely money into lead generation yet 75% of our business comes from SOI (now, that might mean we suck at lead generation or that we are extraordinarily good with SOI, I don’t know).

      I have an accountant’s heart so I meticulously test, track and analyze everything. Anything we try, we give it a good 6-12 months of concerted deliberate effort before giving up on it. What hasn’t worked? Talking House, Market Leader (although I love their CRM), ANYTHING, Nice looking websites with little SEO value, expireds, open houses, print advertising, and plenty of other things. They didn’t work for US, but they might work for someone else (although a few I might seriously caution against).

      It just seems to me, that there is (for some reason) a vehement disdain from some individuals welling up against SM. It doesn’t seem to come from those who say they have tried it and it didn’t work, but just a almost religious opposition to it. I just don’t know where that comes from and the ones who are there do not make rational points as much as say there are too many gurus preying on new agents. (if they were guru fodder who got taken to the cleaners, I’d fully understand) I don’t disagree with that there are too many SM gurus and I certainly don’t disagree that someone who needs to make a mortgage payment next week fresh out of RE school isn’t going to get far on a solely SM plan (they might, but it’d be hard, just like building a business solely on SOI, it is a long term investment, not one that necessarily feeds the mouth immediately).

      What I absolutely LOVE about real estate is the creativity of it, you can carve out a niche, a target audience and a business model however feels right for you. And you can change it when it isn’t working. I know clearly that SM isn’t for everyone, nor are many other methods out there, but they can always find what is and move on.

      I thought this post would just be a little side note for those who even know what Foursquare is with some ideas they might find useful and my comments are not just directed at the few who commented here who are anti-SM, but to all of the ones I have seen comment all over the lately. I am just trying to understand I guess, where the hostility comes from. I haven’t been in RE long enough to know (5 yrs), but would guess maybe the only other developments in RE that would produce such negative response might be discount brokers, or the like who some feel could pose a real threat to their own business. SM doesn’t pose a treat to anyone other than the potential mis-user of it, that is what leaves me scratching my head.

      Thanks again for your thoughtful commentary.

  17. Houstonblogger

    January 17, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    I’m sure it’s helpful, but to be honest. It just feels like a pain in the ass to me. I’d forget to check in and be annoyed if I felt I “needed” to. I’ll probably be missing out, but I don’t like being annoyed.

  18. Beth Butler

    January 19, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Hi Janie:

    What if you input your listings into FourSquare and agents checked in at a showing? Use the Tip for feedback – how invaluable to sellers and agents would that be? Agents could vie for “Mayor” rights within a neighborhood or building. I think this type of social media could be a fun and practical addition to real estate. Just a thought ….

  19. Jay Myers

    January 24, 2010 at 2:36 am

    I can see Google snagging this company up, in order to go with the Google Latitudes that has not really been catching on.

  20. Michael Bertoldi

    January 24, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    First of all, this slew of comments took a turn toward the broad scope of social media, not foursquare alone. But since we’re talking social media, I’ll comment on the whole genre as well.

    I don’t even have my real estate license yet, but I’m working towards it because it’s something I’d like to do on the side. I find the industry itself pretty interesting and I think helping a family find a place to make memories and call home is a cool thing. However, I have an advertising degree and began my career as a copywriter. I’ve had the privilege of writing TV spots, billboards, websites, brochures, print ads, etc… (Not trying to plug, just introducing myself and background – First comment, Hi everyone) With that being said, I agree with how Carson wrapped up his comment – saying copywriting isn’t new and that the message is important. However, what threw me off is when he said social media has “no real impact.” Really? I can promise you social media has a real impact.

    When it comes to branding and marketing in general – not just real estate – social media works. We’re past the point of deciding whether or not it works or if there is any “real impact” – there is. Now we’re moving to the ways we can measure social media.

    But to the naysayers and social media haters, let me ask you this. What’s the ROI for that billboard you’ve got? Did you use a routing number so that you can tell where each call came in from and whether or not they got your number off the billboard? Are you tracking that? How about that print ad you ran in the paper? Are you measuring its impact or do you just pay the fee and give it a look? To people who fancy social media, you’re traditional marketing tactics might be useless.

    I’m not trying to make you guys (those who despise social media) upset, as I began my career in traditional media and guess what – it works too! That’s why there are laws on advertising – because it works! I think the point to remember is that you should really have a balance. Do I think billboards produce leads? Probably not, but if I had the money I’d still run one simply because it does build awareness. I’d even run a print ad if the budget warranted because it has the same effect.

    But you’ve got to consider what social media can do for you in partnership with traditional media. It may not initiate leads, but If I discover you in a print ad or from a referral, you better believe I’ll get to know you better on facebook and twitter given the chance. And now, there’s a good chance I’ll see how well you know you’re city on foursquare!

    I’m with you Janie! And if the rest of the good people don’t want to head your advice, well, you tried. The internet was once new, facebook and twitter were too. I’d rather roll with foursquare and if it pans out to be a bunch of nothing, then so be it. But if it lives up to its potential, we’re already here.

  21. Pingback: Is Yahoo really looking to acquire Foursquare? - AGBeat

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