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We’ve all been there.

That feeling of frustration when you pull that last $10 bill out of your wallet. The stomach flip you get after looking at your bank statement and seeing your ever-decreasing funds. The buyer’s remorse that hits you once you get the bill in the mail for that credit card shopping spree you took back in April…

Again, we’ve all been there. Some of us are there right now.

But before you go and sell that right kidney, take a look at these four social media websites that can help you save some cold hard cash.

1. eDivvy – Do you have a friend’s graduation party coming up? A wedding? A birthday? A Bat Mitzfa? Whatever the celebration is, eDivvy will make the gift giving portion easy and affordable. How does it work? As eDivvy.com states, the website allows you to “select the perfect gift, invite people to contribute, and keep track of the entire process.” EDivvy will even handle the messy, uncomfortable parts of group gift giving, like asking for money, sending out reminders, and making sure the right gifts are bought and delivered on time. This way you won’t have to break the bank spending $300 on the stainless steel, jewel-encrusted espresso machine your sister has just been dying for – you can get the whole family to chip in!

2. CheapTweet –  Twitter has become a modern day social media Swiss Army Knife. Its uses are endless. You can use it to avoid traffic jams (CommuterFeed), lose weight (TweetWhatYouEat), track packages (TrackThis), and even find love (FindLoveOnTwitterverse). Twitter is also a useful tool when it comes to saving money. CheapTweet, as it says on its website, “finds the coupons, sales and discounts people talk about on Twitter.” CheapTweet makes it easy to find deals catered to your interests by organizing all of the deals, discounts and coupons into several categories, including apparel, tech, food and travel.

3. GradeFund – This is a special one for all you struggling college students – Lord knows there’s a lot of us out there. While college can be an absolute blast, it can also be quite an expensive time for you and your family, depending on who’s paying for your education. Scholarships are often hard to find and even harder to win. Taking out loans may help temporarily but can leave you in debt for years. Working a part-time job can help put a little more money in your pocket but often comes at the expense of your grades. GradeFund wants to help. GradeFund’s goal is simple – as it says on its website, “We want to help all students with a service that encourages them to pursue higher education and focus on doing well while in school.” GradeFund works in just four easy steps:

The money you receive from your sponsors will either go to the tuition office or straight into your pocket. All you have to do is get those A+’s – GradeFund will handle the rest.

4. Plastic Jungle – Plastic Jungle is a nifty website that allows you to sell, buy, exchange and donate gift cards. This way, instead of wasting that $100 “Vegan Surplus Store” gift card Aunt Suzy gave you for your birthday, sell it to Plastic Jungle for 92 percent of the balance or trade it in for a great gift card to the store of your choice. Plastic Jungle also allows you to buy gift cards at a great, discounted rate. For example, a $50 gift card to Restaurant.com is currently on sale for only $15.

I hope you will take some time to give these websites a once-over. I’ve already signed up for GradeFund, bought a gift card off of Plastic Jungle and created an eDivvy group for my friend’s upcoming wedding. Oh social media, what would I do without you?

-Lauren

About a month ago, I was sitting at Starbucks with my friend Rachel. In the middle of discussing our summer job plans and dishing about our town’s latest gossip, I see her face light up with sheer joy as she glances at her iPhone. When I ask her why all the sudden excitement, she replies: “I just became mayor of this Starbucks! YES!”

I thought she was going loony.

Turns out there was no need to check her in to the nearest mental hospital. She was talking about the new social media phenomenon, Foursquare. Foursquare, as Mashable describes it, “is a location-based social network to help you connect with friends using GPS via your mobile device.” In short, Foursquare allows you to broadcast your current location to your friends.

Foursquare Users “check in” at different locations (Starbucks, for example) and can see if other friends have recently checked in at that same location. Users may also see any recommendations their friends have suggested, like a favorite menu item or a location to visit next. The person who checks in at a location the most becomes that location’s “mayor,” which can sometimes lead to awesome giveaways, like a free cup of coffee, a free meal or even a free hotel stay, depending on the location.

On one hand…

Foursquare can be a great marketing tool. Jimmy Choo, the supreme god of footwear, recently used Foursquare to create a competition that rewards one of its followers with a free pair of fabulous Jimmy Choo shoes. The winner of the Jimmy Choo Trainer Hunt event, cleverly nicknamed CatchAChoo, will be the “first person to identify the trainers in a location from which Jimmy Choo has publicised its location through its Twitter, Facebook or Foursquare page.” When businesses use Foursquare in this way, it can increase brand visibility as well as provide incentives for customers to visit the business or store.

On the other more cautious, over-protective hand…

In today’s society, when crime rates are higher than ever, is it really safe to use geotagging applications like Foursquare – which announce detailed information about where you are, where you’re going and places you visit often? I think the people behind pleaserobme.com, a website that creates and raises awareness about the possible dangers that can come with social media, explained it best when they said:

“The danger is publicly telling people where you are. This is because it leaves one place you’re definitely not… home. So here we are; on one end we’re leaving lights on when we’re going on a holiday, and on the other we’re telling everybody on the internet we’re not home. It gets even worse if you have ‘friends’ who want to colonize your house. That means they have to enter your address, to tell everyone where they are. Your address.. on the internet.. Now you know what to do when people reach for their phone as soon as they enter your home. That’s right, slap them across the face.”

Maybe you can skip the slapping part. But regardless, they make a great point. You should be careful about the amount of information you’re broadcasting out into the vast Internet world. It’s a big place out there – you wouldn’t want personal information to get into the wrong hands.

So finally, the question to end all questions: Foursquare – a fun, fresh marketing tool or a dangerous invasion of privacy?

Well, that’s for you to decide. My goal is to simply provide you with both sides of the argument and give you the tools you need to make an informed decision.

That’s all for now! I’m off to try and win those fabulous Jimmy Choo shoes…

-Lauren

Welcome back!

In doing research for this blog post, I found that there are roughly 32,421,927 twitter tools out there (OK, that number may be a bit exaggerated, but I like to err on the side of drama).

Want to tweet out anonymous tweets that are never linked back to your own Twitter? There’s a tool for that (Secrettweet). Want to see who is cursing and swearing on Twitter? There’s a tool for that (Cursebird). Want to see how much money your Twitter profile is worth? There’s a tool for that (Tweetvalue – mine’s worth a whopping $26). Want to keep track of who owes you a beer? There’s even a tool for that (Foamee). There’s a Twitter tool for everything!

Apart from fun, silly Twitter tools like the ones mentioned above, there are many Twitter tools that can help businesses, PR professionals and individuals succeed and gain more recognition. I’ve compiled a list of 5 of my favorite professional Twitter tools below.

  1. Twitter Search – Let’s start off with a basic but necessary tool. Twitter search allows you to search the Twitter universe for specific words or conversations. It also shows you a short list of current trending topics. This is a perfect tool to use if you want to see what people are saying about you, your company or its latest product.                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  2. Qwitter – Qwitter sends you an e-mail when someone stops following you on Twitter. The e-mail includes the last post you made before the person in question stopped following you. This Twitter tool may not leave you with the most positive feeling, but it is important to know if your page or your company’s page is losing a lot of followers in a short span of time.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
  3. Twitter Grader – One of the best Twitter analyzing tools I’ve seen yet. Twitter Grader gives your Twitter page a grade out of a 100 based on factors such as the number of people who follow you, how often you tweet, your follower/following ratio, how often your tweets are re-tweeted, how often you’re mentioned in someone else’s tweets, and so on. Twitter Grader also gives you tips on who you should consider following, shows a “tweet cloud” of words you tweet often, and allows you to type in a name of someone and see if they are following you. It even gives you a graph of your page’s history and allows you to type in another Twitter user name and compare stats. Overall, this is a great tool to use if you want to check and compare the power of your Twitter with millions of other profiles. This could also be of use to young PR professionals looking to score a job that deals with social media. Taking a screen shot of your Twitter Grade now and then taking one later, after your score has improved, shows you know how to make your media presence grow and develop.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
  4. Twitt(url)y – Twitt(url)y, as they say on their website, “tracks the URLs flying around the Twitterverse and provides a quick, real-time view of what people are talking about on Twitter.” This tool allows you to see what topics are trending and becoming popular out there amongst twitter users.                                                                                                                                                                                               
  5. TwitHire – TwitHire, a free job listing service, “helps employers promote job opportunities and reach out to candidates by simply tweeting.” Job listings are categorized into design jobs, programming jobs and other jobs. This site is beneficial to job seekers as well, allowing them to peruse the general listings page looking for open job positions as well as information regarding the location of the job, salary and requirements.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

There may be some of you out there who want to find Twitter tools that display funny tweets from that day (TwitLOL), allow you to confess your weird, strange habits (WeirdHabit), or help you flip a line of text upside down and tweet it out (FlipMyTweet!). But for those of you who want to use Twitter to increase your media presence and become more professionally successful, give the 5 tools mentioned above a try. I promise – you won’t be disappointed.

-Lauren

Hello there! My name is Lauren Stuart and I am studying public relations and communication studies at the University of Oregon. I have an unhealthy obsession with Diet Coke, I believe that John Mayer’s music holds the solution to all of life’s problems, I am head over heels in love with my Yorkie, Bella, and I am incredibly fascinated with and passionate about public relations.

One of the areas of PR that interests me most is social media. I have user name accounts with so many social media websites that I have to write them down in order to remember them, I get more excited about a new iPhone app then I do about a party on a Friday night, Mashable.com has become my new home page, and I sometimes have internal debates about whether 15 Tweets in the last hour is socially acceptable.

I figure that it is about time my (somewhat ridiculous) obsession with social media be put to good use. For that reason, I’ve decided this blog is going to focus on new, useful topics in social media from a public relations perspective, as well as ways social media can individually help PR professionals market themselves and their clients. Maybe I’ll even throw in a post about how social media can save the world (since I thoroughly believe it can). So sit back, relax and allow me to help you find the ME in social MEdia.


Finding the ME in Social MEdia

About Me

My name is Lauren Stuart and I am a senior studying public relations and at the University of Oregon. I am interested in corporate PR as well as pursuing a career with a public relations agency.

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