While using popular social media platforms is a fun way to stay connected with family and friends, perhaps the most useful benefit is tapping into a new way to save money. Whether it be through negotiating a lower monthly bill, scoring a coupon, or finding the best local deals, with just a little bit of effort you can use social media to save hundreds of dollars every year. Here are some easy to implement tips to get you started in the right direction.
1. Learn to Negotiate a Lower Bill Via Twitter
Most large companies these days have employees who do nothing but monitor their social media feeds and respond directly to customer inquiries and complaints. Because of this, when it comes to negotiating a lower monthly bill, Twitter has become an excellent way to start the conversation. For example, I was recently able to do this with the folks at Verizon by accident when I responded to a friend's Tweet discussing cheaper cell phone services. Within minutes of my Twitter response, I had a Verizon representative send me a message via Twitter asking if they could help lower my bill. With their proactive help, I was able to lower my bill by $10 a month.
This experience led me to investigate other companies that respond quickly via Twitter, and sure enough I found many that did — namely Dish Network, DirecTV, AT&T, and Sprint. Simply send a direct Tweet to the company, or respond to someone else talking about the company, and drop the hint that you're seriously considering leaving the company for a cheaper alternative. In many cases, you'll quickly get a response with actionable ways to lower your bill. Could be a phone number to call, or even better, the company representative will personally help you lower your bill.
2. Use Facebook Messenger to Ask for a Coupon
Facebook Messenger has also become a great tool to score a deal or coupon. Simply visit the retailer's Facebook page, click on the "Message" button, and send them a polite message asking if they have a coupon code for free shipping or perhaps 15% or 20% off your purchase. Most big-name retailers have staffers standing by to respond to your message, often within minutes. The best part is they are armed with exclusive coupons and are ready to hand them out. After all, they know you're very close to completing your purchase and will often throw you a bone to do just that. So when you can't find a coupon in the more traditional ways, be sure to use Facebook Messenger to avoid paying full price.
Also, if the retailer does not have a current coupon to hand out, I've had some let me know via Messenger when a new coupon was going to be released. I'd then wait and make my purchase with the money saving coupon in-hand.
3. Instagram Descriptions Often Have Coupons
Using Instagram to save money with coupons is not something that immediately comes to mind for most shoppers. But the fact of the matter is many retailers and restaurants are starting to use their Instagram profile pages to drop new coupons and deals. For example, I just recently used a coupon on the Dunkin' Donuts profile page to get a free cup of coffee with my doughnut purchase. The key to making this work is to follow your favorite shops and restaurants and get in the habit of checking their Instagram page before you complete your purchase.
4. Search Pinterest Boards for Deals
When it comes to saving money, Pinterest is a great tool but requires a different approach. Because Pinterest is a very static platform, searching for deals/coupons with hashtags is going to leave you frustrated with the lack of results. Instead, you'll want to search "boards" for deals and coupons to particular retailers that users have pinned. Boards are essentially a collection of saved pins and are often kept up-to-date by users. To make this happen, you'll type in your search in the search box, hit the filters button to include boards in your search, then hit enter. By doing it this way, you'll typically get the newest pins which include a majority of coupons and deals that have yet to expire.
RELATED: Money tips to teach your kids
5. Become a Hashtag Superhero
By becoming proficient at using the underrated Twitter hashtag (#), you can quickly find where the best deals are located for specific items. For example, let's say you're in the market for a new mountain bike. A fantastic way to search the entire Internet for a great deal is go on Twitter and search #MountainBike #Deal (or #Sale), or #MountainBike #Coupon. Often Twitter users will combine hashtags when searching, like #MountainBikeCoupon and get frustrated with the results. But if you make it a habit of breaking-up the hashtags, you'll end up with a large list of discounts and coupons that you can use to quickly find the best deals.
Also, a great way to localize your search, especially for larger items that are expensive to ship, is to add your hometown to your search query. So sticking with the mountain bike example, do a Twitter search like this: #Sacramento #MountainBike #Sale. You'll end up with search results that can easily lead you to the best current deals and sales in your area.
6. Use Live Chat the Right Way
Most online shoppers are familiar with the live chat feature that many websites operate. Have a question about the product, or want to know more about sizing? The live chat operator typically has the answers. But have you ever started a live chat session for the sole purpose of saving money? If not, you should try it as it often works. I like to start the chat sessions with a question about the product as I don't want it to seem like a gratuitous discount hunter.
Once I chat them up a little bit, I'll politely ask if they have a coupon code I can use on my order. Maybe shipping is a little costly, or perhaps a competitor has a slightly cheaper price — both solid reasons to ask for a coupon. In many cases, the operator has a few coupon codes they can hand out at their discretion. So the bottom line is to be polite, have a real conversation, and you stand a great chance of getting a coupon code you can use to save money.
How do you use social media to save money?