6 Ways to Save Money with Twitter
Twitter can help you save by replacing expensive SMSes and phone calls, finding coupons and deals, participating in competitions, and even by tracking your budget!
Companies often use social media (like Twitter and Facebook) to promote their products, run competitions, offer freebies, provide coupons and customer service.
Other service-oriented sites sit on top of the social media sites to offer convenient ways to track information and allow communication between users of that service.
It is best to plan how you will use Twitter, or you may find yourself completely overwhelmed with the information overload!
What is Twitter?
Twitter is a short online message service - at its most basic, you can post a message (called tweeting), using 140 characters or less. This is then displayed in your account on the Twitter website.
You can choose whether your messages are public (anyone can read them), or locked, where you have to approve your followers before they can see your tweets.
There are numerous services that plug into Twitter, allowing you to link to additional information or translate your tweets automatically.
Photos may be attached, tweets can be scheduled, the webpages you read or the music you listen to can be automatically tweeted, you can tweet your location (linking to a map), and much more.
Coupons, deals, freebies, news, tips and articles are published constantly on Twitter.
Many tracking tools (financial, health, productivity, etc.) allow users to tweet to input information, and provide reminders and updates automatically over Twitter.
1. Biggest saver - replace SMS with private tweets
If you have a smartphone, you are already paying for a data allowance, usually in addition to the fees for each text message you send. Sending group or international SMS/MMS messages can increase costs quickly and dramatically.
Facebook and WhatsApp use a lot more data than Twitter, unless you follow a lot of people who post images in their tweets.
Twitter is a free option for sending text messages.
To set up a private messaging system between your favorite text-message people:
- Set up a new Twitter account - one account per person.
- Lock each account to keep their messages private.
- Follow each other. Each person should follow the people they regularly send messages to.
Tweets sent from one account in the group can be viewed by everyone who has permission to follow the locked account, but can not be read not by the whole world.
Alternatively, if you want to use your existing, public Twitter account, you can send direct messages (private messages) instead, to individuals or groups.
Note: most smartphone Twitter apps can notify you when you receive a direct message and/or an @ reply, effectively making Twitter a free and equivalent SMS / MMS service.
Privacy is important
There are two ways to keep your tweets private:
Lock your account - the public can not read tweets from locked accounts.
For someone to read your tweets, you must approve them when they apply to be a follower.
Send direct messages - direct messages can only be seen by the person you sent the message to. The public can not read your direct messages, even when your normal tweets are public.
I use a private twitter account to keep in touch with my partner, who also uses a private account, instead of paying for SMSes. The only problem is when one of us has no data coverage! It saved us even more when we lived in different countries - international SMSes cost!
2. Tweet to stay accountable
Sticking to a budget can be difficult. So can changing eating habits. Or following a workout plan. Or even staying productive.
You can use your followers on Twitter to motivate you, and keep you on track.
- First, announce your savings or other goal to your followers.
- Tweet every time you take a step towards that goal.
- When you are low on motivation, or need some help, tweet to get support from your followers.
Many fitness and diet tracking websites and programs offer to tweet workouts (with or without maps) and milestones automatically. An automatic tweet can ensure people stay on track as they are accountable to their followers. Of course, becoming or staying fit and healthy, often saves money spent on doctors, medicine and expensive junk foods.
3. Track expenses with Twitter
For individuals there is a Twitter service that lets you track your expenses by sending direct messages to your (private) Tweet What You Spend account. As with all direct messages, these tweets are private.
For businesses, Xpenser is a similar tool, but it is geared towards tracking multiple accounts and employee spending.
There are a huge number of tracking websites and online tools that use Twitter to provide a wide variety of services - distances driven, money spent on fuel, time-tracking for freelancers, budgeting software, to-do lists, and many more.
4. Learn from frugal twitterers
Many people, especially bloggers in the personal finance spheres, use Twitter to publish money-saving tips.
You can find a huge number of experts, both self-proclaimed and recognised, by searching for #money, #frugal, #savings or other money-related terms on the Twitter website. You do not need to be a Twitter member to search!
If you are interested in investing, you can use Twitter to find information about the performance of publicly traded companies, thereby ensuring you don't invest in bad deals.
Some online banks tweet interest rate deals and tips, especially for gaining new customers. If you are looking to invest, or open a new bank account, don't forget to check Twitter for bonus offers and good advice first!
Tweet and save?
Which method of using Twitter would save YOU the MOST amount of money?
5. Report defective products!
Need to replace a broken product?
Tweet about it first!
Include the company's Twitter name (if they have one) prefixed by @. They may suggest a repairer, tell you where you can return the item to, or even offer you a refund or replacement!
I have done this successfully for broken shoes where the heels inside were worn through less than a month after buying them, a pair of scissors that snapped on their first use, and a faulty Kitchenaid bowl when the handle came apart from the metal bowl.
Found a bug in software?
Even reporting bugs in programs or online websites may give you free short subscriptions as a thank you for helping out!
6. Find deals, sales and freebies on Twitter
Searching for #coupons or #deals will result in tweet overload - these are often re-tweeted. Search based on locations or products for a more manageable list.
Many large retail outlets regularly tweet deals and sales, or offer coupons only for those following them on Twitter. Before shopping for anything, find the store's Twitter account and have a quick look through their history - you may find a bunch of coupon codes, discount announcements, or even free offers.
Searching for #freebies unearths another huge money-saving collection of tweets. If you enjoy receiving free gifts and samples, this is the search term for you!
It does take a little time to set up and become comfortable with using a Twitter account (or two or more). However, it can be used to save time and money in somewhat unconventional ways!
Bonus - blog competitions
Many blogs hold competitions for receiving books, crafting supplies, makeup, jewellery and more. The normal entry for these competitions is to leave a comment on the blog post for one entry, and tweet a link to it to spread awareness of the competition for second entry.