Influencing Others

Social media has changed life.

I’m watching an interview of Karen Gillan and John Cho, stars of the new ABC series, Selfie, premiering tomorrow night. It’s a modern day My Fair Lady, in that Henry (John Cho) tries to get Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan) to be a more refined, un-plugged lady. Karen Gillan says she can relate to her character, in that she can spend hours on Facebook looking at pictures of people she doesn’t even know! John Cho says he can relate to his character, in that he’s not all that into spending hours online.

Me? I’m somewhere in between. I absolutely enjoy seeing pictures and updates on the lives of my friends from various points in my life. I love that I can keep in touch with my high school and college friends, friends from various cities I’ve lived in, neighbors, extended family, and other people I might only know online as a friend of a friend. I like seeing their babies grow up. I love grand-baby pictures. I love seeing their hobbies, favorite restaurants, silly pet antics, the fun vacations, and glimpses into their life, whether the glimpses are life’s milestones or mundane daily activities.

Sometimes there are posts that are wonderfully helpful. Some of my programming friends have posted tips to get more out of my digital devices or secure my accounts. I appreciate those immensely! Other times, people have sung the praises of a particular product that makes their life easier. Other times, they simply “Like” a product and the advertising crosses my feed.

I’m not really all that into random social advertising that spams my friends’ feeds. However, there are more and more apps and sites you can join where you get deals or even full-size products to try if you truthfully review the product online. Sometimes you get more points if you post on multiple social media sites. I’ve tried resisting this, as I really don’t think that my friends really want more advertising. They’d rather see pictures of fun stuff, as we are bombarded with advertising everywhere else, right?! But these deals are getting too good to pass up.

What deals am I talking about? First is Ibotta. It’s an app on your smart phone. There are a number of products for which you can get cash back if you purchase them. Each product has between one and three quick tasks: watch a video, post to Twitter, post to Facebook, take a quiz, learn a fact. Each task takes not more than a minute, most of the time, it’s less. While most of the products are processed food products, new cleaning or beauty products, and even cash back at brick-and-mortar or online specialty stores (mall clothing, electronics, etc.), there are times when you can get money back for staples like milk and eggs. Now we’re talking! Ibotta has a teamwork bonus, which is more cash back when you recruit friends and work together as a group to redeem offers. I’ve saved $11 in about six months — not a huge amount, but I haven’t put a whole lot of effort into it, either. I might remember at one grocery trip per month (of, say, 8-10 trips), so it’s not big money, but $11 is $11! And I need to remember more often.

A quite different program is Influenster. You sign up and let them know what kinds of social media you use. You can then earn badges by offering your opinions through quizzes and writing reviews. The more you do, the better qualified you’ll be to get a VoxBox — a box of products sent to you for your review. My first box had a mini roll of Duck tape, a travel pack of a new Kleenex tissue, a full box of Skinny Cow chocolates, a full eyeshadow palette, and a couple of other things I can’t remember off-hand. The second one was a coupon for a free box of Magnum ice cream bars (obviously they can’t ship those to you!). Both times I’ve tried things I otherwise wouldn’t have. That half-inch wide roll of Duck tape is great to have around — it fixes everything and can stay in your purse, glove box, or desk drawer! And we’ve bought boxes of that ice cream (despite my diet!). I like being eligible for a surprise package every now and then, but it does come with the strings that you have to review the products on your social media (and provide proof in the form of links to your review). So, I’ve gone to spamming my friends. However, if a few times a year I post that those Magnum mini bars are AWESOME, but the Skinny Cow chocolates aren’t really any fewer calories than two fun-size bars of your favorite chocolate, maybe my friends will forgive me.

With any luck, I won’t become like Eliza Dooley and be so plugged into my virtual life. While I don’t like spamming my friends with advertisements, I do like helping them save money, and perhaps if they join my Ibotta team or join Influenster themselves, they’ll see why I do it.

If you are interested in joining Ibotta, I’d love to have you on my team to help us all save money together!

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