7 Ways Social Media Can Destroy Your Finances
Free services appear to be without financial risk. After all, isn’t that what “free” indicates? Despite the ability to sign up and start rolling, the cost for participating in social media can be far greater than a membership fee.
Facebook users share 7 billion pieces of content weekly.
Twitter users are sending 200 million tweets daily.
Flickr users upload 3,500 photos a minute.
With all that clutter, not every social share is going to be gold, but could some posts actually impact your cash flow?
Increasingly, companies are using social sites against you. Whether they’re promoting products you should do without or spying on your activity, something as simple as a Twitpic can turn into a big problem.
Despite the privacy settings, locks and “friends only” option, people are still finding a way to get in touch online.
Social media has become a public sounding board. Whether you’re happy, sad, angry, drunk, depressed or excited, social sites have become a natural platform for expressing that emotion. In the moment it seems harmless and as you watch it disappear into the unending flow of conversation you assume it’s forgotten.
Employers, however, have gotten really good at digging up dirt on your pages. Whether a current employer finds something unsavory or a hiring manager decides to explore beyond an applicant’s resume, people are losing jobs and opportunities left and right.
In a feeble job market, this is a financial risk no one should be taking.
The Downfall of Deals
Groupon, ideeli, Amazon and Living Social bombard our emails, but are also easily ignored and deleted. When it occurs on social however, the subtlety tends to make us more impulsive and trusting.
Tailored to its platform, promotional posts appear as any others. They look “friendly” and helpful, but they are laden with sales, deals and offers meant to drive purchases that otherwise wouldn’t have happened.
In some cases, companies are even using social media to get around legal guidelines. According to Nasdaq, some credit card companies are getting around a provision in the CARD Act. The legal imposition that now keeps credit cards from aggressively marketing at colleges didn’t stipulate that the companies had to cease promoting to young adults.
As a way around the rules, credit issuers are using social to aggressively pitch offers to the crowd of inexperienced credit users.
Whether it’s a time-sensitive deal or a credit card you thought you couldn’t qualify for, suggestive tweets or alluring Facebook posts are extremely compelling. Don’t let your finances suffer at the hands of social promotion.
The insurance industry can feel a bit dusty and detached from today’s modern world. As always they assess the risk and determine a price for coverage. When an accident occurs they pay out what’s promised on the policy and monitor for fraud.
The system hasn’t changed much, but the information they use in the process has. Social media is now entering the insurance world.
It has already been used to determine if insurance fraud is being committed and many predict it will one day be factored into rate determination.
If you think a picture of you and your friends at a part y is innocent, think again. For people on disability, something that simple could be used as evidence to prove fraud is occurring. If assistance is cut off or rates have the potential of getting hiked due to social documentation, your bank account could see some shrinkage.
When you have balances that get handed off to collections agencies, their one goal becomes finding you and getting you to pay. It’s what they do. While you should never attempt to evade or deceive a debt collector, the time it takes for them to track you down may be a needed cushion.
Often, time is a big factor for how and when people can pay back bills. Whether you’re playing catch up from an emergency cash situation or you’re waiting for a source of income to trickle in, a few days can make a big difference. With Foursquare and other location-based social sites, a debt collector can easily track you down. Keeping yourself off the radar won’t rid you of debt, but it might be the stall you need to recover.
People have drifted away from the childhood lesson “Think before you speak.” Instead of assessing the responsibility they’ve taken on by publicly posting information, social users take on the assumption that no one who matters will read their posts. When you post something to a social site, you are holding some of the same responsibilities in your hands that a reporter does. Laws against publishing defamatory or libelous information don’t go away simply because you’re on a personal social site.
At a minimum you could get your account suspended, but some punishments even come with a price tag. Miami Heat owner Micky Arison was fined $500,000 for responding to fans about the NBA lockout.
The average citizen may not face half a million dollars in fines, but be sure you’re falling in line with the rules established by the social site, government, your workplace and school. Social fining is increasing in popularity and usershave to be aware that not all activity is first amendment protected.
Time is Money
According to a study by CVP Marketing, Facebook users spend an average of 15 hours and 33 minutes on the social network a month. That equals out to almost 190 hours on just Facebook every year. If you’re spending this much time or more on social media, you’re throwing away hours that could be financially beneficial.
Though the number of financially savvy tasks that could be accomplished in 15 hours a month is endless, imagine taking that time to:
- Have a garage sale
- Shop for cheaper insurance
- Further your education
- Freelance write
- Check your credit report
- Start an online business
Sharing and posting for hours may not cost you money, but spending all of that time on social media could be keeping you from earning it.
Bet the Farm
Farmville may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those swept away by the livestock and crops, social gaming gets expensive. Though game cash is earned by hitting certain mile marks, people often invest real money to progress through the games.
A UK boy, recently racked up $1,400 USD playing Farmville. At only 12-years-old he managed to spend £288 of his own savings and charged£625 on his mom’s credit card.
With a slew of other Zynga games that tie in people’s love of social and their gaming infatuation, money is spent easily and often. If you enjoy these types of games, make sure you give yourself the reality checks needed to control your spending.
Social media has brought about incredible change in communication, but not all connections are positive. Make sure that you’re not only minding your reputation and privacy, but that you’re also keeping an eye on the financial impact your favorite sharing sites are having.