Though I’m nowhere near the level of intensity packed into one episode of TLC’s Extreme Couponing, I do consider myself an on-the-rise frugalista who knows that forking over full-price for everything was so five years ago. Clearly, I’m not the only one: Valassis released a stat earlier this year claiming shoppers saved $3.7 billion using coupons in 2010. That’s a lot of clipping. Or was it?
The social media geek in me has to wonder: How much of those banked bucks were thanks to Facebook and its social-platform counterparts? I ask because these days, all of my money-saving or freebie-amassing has to do with logging on somewhere. With that, I give you my top five ways to save moolah using social media, both from a consumer perspective and “insider” view. Got others? Comment below!
Follow coupons, freebies, sales and sweepstakes aggregators.
Here’s a great list to start: The Top 40 Twitter Feeds to Help You Save Money. I never would’ve won all my Starbucks gifts cards if it weren’t for these trusty aggregators, who constantly spread the word about deals and ‘RT to win’ contests. Also search for relevant hashtags–#coupon, #sale, #deal, #giveaway to name a few.
Amend your Twitter profile to rack up freebies:
I’m not saying I do this, but I have on good authority that many Twitter contest hosts only “randomly” choose winners who, in their profiles, list their hometown. They don’t want to risk selecting a winner with no location listed, only to find out they live in Wales—and since most Twitter contests don’t come with official rules, it’s difficult to take back a congrats. So if you don’t already, consider at least citing the U.S. as your homeland to up your chances of getting that coveted “You win!” tweet.
Get the 411 on gasoline.
Before I hit the nearest pump, I check GasBuddy.com online or on my iPhone to find the lowest rate nearby. The incentive for users to post rates and help others: prizes! (And the desire to help out a fellow consumer, of course).
Check-in on @foursquare wherever you go.
Free appetizers, 30% off, buy one get one…Check-in specials are on the rise; always check to see if the venue you’re at has one. But don’t stop there—look at the tips, too. For one of our clients, we left a tip at a specific venue saying “show us your screen and you’ll jump to the front of the line.” No money saved there, but you never know. Perhaps a customer will leave a tip a la: “They take expired coupons!” Ch-ching.
Swap your stuff with someone else’s.
From bookmooch.com and paperbackswap.com to freecycle.com and Craigslist, there’s usually someone somewhere who will trade items with you—or just give you something for zilch.
Like and follow your favorite brands. (Probably the most obvious one…)
Start at the brand’s website to find out which social media platforms they’re active on. If they’re on Facebook, ‘like’ ‘em and constantly check their tabs for new coupons or sales. If they’re on Twitter, follow them—but be proactive, too. Tweet to them if you have a problem (maybe you’ll get a freebie?) or compliment their merchandise (perhaps a ‘thank you’ reward will come your way?). Or straight-up ask if they have a coupon code you can use.