10 Surprising Ways Social Media Can Help You Save Money
That's right -- your Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR) accounts are more than just fun distractions. Here are 10 ways to use social media to save money -- without wasting a ton of time.
1. Follow Companies You Like
You may think you've got the inside scoop on your favorite companies' discounts and promos because you're signed up for their email list, but you could be missing out. Be sure to also "like" them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter to learn about flash deals, special coupons and giveaways they won't announce anywhere else.
2. Streamline Your Stream
Following every grocery store, retail chain and clothing store you like can clog up your social media stream, making you feel like your social media accounts are cluttered and overwhelming. Keep your social streams organized by signing up for a social media management dashboard like HootSuite. It will allow you to view all of your platforms at once in separate tabs, rather than logging in and out of multiple sites each day. This is also a huge time-saver, and as we know, time is money.
3. Use Twitter Lists
You can also consolidate your Twitter stream by creating separate lists for different companies you follow (i.e., one list for department stores, one for travel sites, etc.). This way, you can keep these updates out of your general stream and only check them out when you need something in that particular category. If you're about to book a flight, for example, you can check your list of travel websites. The rest of the time, you can safely ignore these updates.
4. Follow Hashtags
Create additional Twitter lists for hashtags like #coupon, #frugal and #giveaway to discover new deals you wouldn't have found on your current lists. There's no need to laboriously read every tweet that comes up; just do a quick glance-through while you're online and see if anything particularly interesting pops out at you.
5. Let Others Do the Work for You
If you'd rather not spend the time scanning your own feeds, look for companies and bloggers that do the work for you. Twitter accounts like @Coupons and @DealsPlus and bloggers like @KrazyCouponLady and @MoneySavingMom curate and aggregate deals from around the Web so you don't have to track numerous sites yourself.
6. Get Frugal Ideas From Pinterest ...
Pinterest is a great way to get new ideas on ways to save money. From cheap and easy ways to keep kids entertained to DIY home decorating projects, if there's a way to save on something in your life, you'll likely find it (with pictorial instructions) on Pinterest.
7. ... But Don't Fall Down the Rabbit Hole
To use Pinterest effectively, however, you need to be strategic. You can waste hours on the site if you're not careful, so make sure to follow only a handful of respected and recognized Pinners who regularly update their boards -- and only follow the specific boards you're interested in. You may love @FabFrugal's freezer meal recipes and shopping tips, for instance, but you don't need to get a notification every time they update one of their 108 other boards.
8. Follow Daily Deals Sites
Follow daily deal sites like Groupon (GRPN) and Amazon (AMZN) Deals on Twitter or Facebook, or through their apps, rather than letting their daily (and sometimes more-than-daily) emails clutter up your inbox. You'll be able to see all their offerings at a glance in that handy dashboard you set up earlier, instead of having to slog through a dozen email messages each day.
9. Find Freebies
Just like daily deal sites and coupon aggregators, there are plenty of freebie database sites with an active social media presence. Check out @HeyItsFree, @freestuffcom, and @Freebies4Mom to get started for the latest lowdown on fun freebies you can snag.
10. Connect With Customer Service
Hate waiting on hold with customer service forever, only to be transferred to a dozen different departments and never really have your problem solved? Then take your issue directly to Twitter; companies are often eager to respond to public complaints on that platform and tweeting at the company's handle could wind up getting you quicker-and better service.
Paula Pant traveled to 32 countries, runs a popular finance blog and is a successful real estate investor. Her blog, Afford Anything, shows you how to live your boldest, brashest dreams -- whether that's travel, adventure, launching a business, or enjoying a debt-free life.