Connecting via social media has become a comfortable, easy method of expression and people share every opinion, rant or brunch photo without a second thought. As your tweets, status updates and pins pile up, have you ever wondered whether all that socializing could affect your pocketbook? There are ways you can save or lose money on these sites, but it all comes down to how you interact. Communal Brainpower
By its very nature, social media is a sharing experience and a great way to learn new money-saving techniques for free. Want to know the details behind a friend’s extreme coupon successes or a cookbook’s worth of cheap, healthy slow cooker meals? Social media can hook you up. Facebook and Pinterest excel at this type of sharing, whether you rely on the first-hand experience of friends or look up fan pages and boards made just so people can exchange budget-friendly ideas. On Facebook, there are also yard sale groups for most regions so you can buy and sell items without dragging everything out to the lawn.
Scams and Track Downs
The Internet is full of scams, and social media has plenty. A hacker can take over your Facebook account and ask your friends for financial help in your name, or you could fall for a virus-ridden link in a tweet that cripples your computer and requires an expensive visit to the repair shop. Some intrusions, though, may be legitimate, such as debt collectors seeing your public profile and contacting you about your unpaid bills, or contacting your friends so you’ll be humiliated into paying up. While the debt may be real, the tactics are less than pleasant, and are even more difficult to bear if you’re struggling to pay in the first place. Either scenario is less likely to happen if you tighten your privacy controls on your accounts so strangers can’t easily comment or send messages.
Who loves bargains? Everyone, that’s who. Twitter has become one of the best platforms to find discounts on services and products you use every day. Companies can reach hundreds of thousands of followers in seconds, and the power of the re-tweet means you can score a time-sensitive discount or coupon quickly. Many corporations also provide customer service on Twitter so if you have a problem, you could receive a refund or free merchandise, mainly because the company knows the world’s eyes are on them and it’s in their best interest to keep you happy. Speaking of free, Twitter is much looser on contest restrictions than Facebook, so it’s much easier to enter contests with a single click and win prizes there.
Pink Slip or Payday
Posting the wrong thing on any of the social media sites can be catastrophic to your career, from those wild, drunken photos on Facebook to trash-talking your boss on Twitter. Most of these firings happen because people assume their employers don’t know about the accounts, but in this digital world, there’s no such thing as complete anonymity. A bad post on LinkedIn can get you fired, too, but it’s more likely that you won’t post such things there, since LinkedIn is mainly for finding a job rather than losing one. The business-minded social site is geared toward networking and making new professional connections, and has helped many people find a new gig. As always, the best protection when dealing with anything on the Internet is common sense. Always check out links, offers or people before giving up money, and remember that fact-checking sites can be your friend.
Beth Bartlett is a freelance writer who enjoys saving money while supplementing her income from writing posts for ultimatemats.com and other quality sites across the Internet.