Sunday, 16 January 2011

Brilliant Weekend of Sociable Social Media Moneysaving!

Don't you just love all this 'social media' whizzkid stuff? It's so moneysaving that it's completely FREE! It even sends your responses to your mobile if you want them there, free of charge. AMAZING! Orange, I believe, were the quickest off the draw in firing up that department.

I love it that the founders of Twitter appear not to know what their long-term goals are for the site, nor do they engage in its use all that often. In reports, they seem to admit that it's some sort of global entity (barring places like China, I guess) that has taken on a life all of its own - I even read the term 'eco system' somewhere, but I'm not sure that's very apt. I love that the site has exploded over the past 4 years and I love that we, the common people, can keep ahead of what the mass media subjects us to via our TV screens, radios and newspapers. Now, however, we are able to peel it all back and look behind the sensationalism of the tabloids. I would venture as far as suggesting that such platforms could, quite easily, bring about the downfall of newsprint.

Now for the most intriguing part, the part that has me completely stumped. It's also a problem I can closely associate with... how does it pay?

Imagine hosting an extended party for millions of people and having to contain the event within one location. Imagine the costs involved in preparing such an area, furnishing it with everything needed to host the event and then finding out all your guests wanted to bring all their friends with them and stay permanently. Worse still, many of those attending want text message reminders of everything. It all adds up to a phenomenal amount of money to cover costs. HOW DOES IT PAY?

Looking at it logically, the mobile network tie-in has to be one source of revenue, because so many members can now text news and photos direct to the networking sites. The likes of Orange must be creaming a fortune from the huge increase in their network traffic through their deal with Twitter alone.

But I digress... the economics of online social networking isn't what I meant to get into right now. What I would like to show you is how simple and effective the likes of Facebok and Twitter can be for moneysavers and, dare I say it, followers of Frugaldom. So come on people, let's see you all making the most of a fantastic opportunity here. There's absolutely nothing in it for me by way of any affiliation, but please join Twitter and then follow Frugaldom. Here is one reason why...

I needed to spend money! There were two items I needed that I could neither source for free nor borrow. 
I'm not talking fortunes, here, I just needed a book (work related) and a humble kitchen kettle (home related). In true frugal living and working fashion, I began my research for the best deals.
Amazon is normally a pretty safe bet for best prices on many things, especially when you're sitting in a prime position holding vouchers, mosty earned from points gathering and cashback sites. I found the £14.99 paperback book marked down to £8.49 and eligible for free delivery. But let's not order just yet - let's TWEET! (Post a short message onto Twitter.)

Amazon runs an affiliate scheme whereby members can earn commissions on sales, so I 'Tweeted' out a message asking for someone to post an affiliate link to my chosen book. It wasn't long before I had a response. Not only did I buy my bargain and save myself over £5 on the book's cover price, I was also able to help a fellow Amazon affiliate member earn a few pence extra in commission.

Next up was the kettle - I wanted a large capacity, low energy model so I could save on electricity. What with the power prices going up and the number of times this household boils the kettle for a cuppa, I reckoned there must be savings to be made there, even allowing for the fact that any extra boiled water gets decanted to a thermos flask. So I posted on Twitter and Facebook. Here's how that went:

Me:  Does anyone know for a fact if these eco-friendly, superfast kettles really boil water faster, cost less to run and save on CO2 emissions? Brain can't compute that less power can boil water faster. Surely it must just be more power, less time but same cost per unit overall?

Response:  Power is a rate of transmission of energy. You can only make comparisons if the power rating is used in conjunction with the time taken to boil the same amount of water. It will only use less total energy if a) the heating element is more efficient at converting electricity into heat or b) the loss of energy to the surrounding is less during the heating process, perhaps through insulating or vacuum-lined kettle walls and base. Of course, you may well find that a superfast kettle will work faster, and perhaps even work more efficiently, possibly saving you money on electricity, but will it last as long as a conventional kettle and need to be replaced after a shorter lifetime. We had a "fast boil" kettle replaced under warranty in less than a year.

Me:  Thanks, Dave. Just contemplating buying a new kettle and looking at cost-effectiveness (as you'd fully expect).

I can't help but be tempted to make do with the old one and invest in a new, much larger, traditional one that can be sat on top of the stove. No electricity needed to boil that, as long as the stove is lit, and enough in there for rinsing up the dishes. It could save on electricity in two ways - less need for the immersion heater and no need to boil the other kettle. However, the large, traditional urn-type stove top kettles are several times the price of cheap electricals... but nothing can ever go wrong with them unless they rust.

£50 Vs £20 ... decisions, decisions... I'll bet you already know which way this is going to go!

Response: I'm guessing stove top kettles need a thick metallic base to conduct the heat up to the water, that, and economies of scale relative to plastic leccy ones, is probably what makes them so expensive. Nice though! See ebay item 190487521687 or 200563748687

Me: I already have a little Le Creuset whistling kettle, that's what I'm using now on the stove. I also use the camping kettle and the stainless steel tea pot works well once the tea's brewed. But I need greater volume of hot water for dishes. THANK YOU! ...That's a great find on eBay with the 3.5L model. Better still... I have my January 'eBay plus' voucher still to use!

YEAH! Pat on the back for Dave - just bought me one of his finds! £16.09 after redeeming the voucher. ! also got 37 eBay plus points, cashback for going via TCB and cashback for funding PayPal with a cashback credit card. Job done!  The kettle I'd looked at in a hardware store was priced at £44.99, so that's a saving of at least £28.90 without factoring in the extra cashback.

Response: Short answer to the original question is no! (thanks J and J)

So there we have it - the simple act of buying a book or a kettle and it's already proving to be very beneficial when doing so with the help of social media platforms. It's easy to understand how helpful sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace etc can all be but it still doesn't explain how these websites make their money. That's still a mystery to me. But I don't simply want to make money out of social media or online networking, I want to SAVE money. A penny saved is a penny earned, so this weekend's socialising has earned me £35.40 for the hour or so it took me to check the posts, respond, order and, finally, put this blog together.

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