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Ways to chill social media’s strain on your wallet

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By Andrea Januta

Jessica Jones, 26, jokes that when she wants to spend more money, she goes on Instagram.

Jones, an at-home care provider in California, often gets the urge to buy the same shoes or makeup she sees people wearing when she scrolls through Instagram’s stream of carefully curated images. Last week, she bought a pair of Dolls Kill high heels embroidered with pink roses after seeing them on the app.

Those Instagram-inspired purchases put Jones in good company. A recent study found that 57 percent of U.S. millennials shell out money they had not planned to spend because of what they see on social media.

“Social media can be very aspirational, because people often post things that are an idealized version of what they’re living,” said Kimberly Palmer, a personal finance expert at NerdWallet. “You might get good ideas for a vacation or an outfit or jewelry, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it might not fit into your budget.”

Nearly 90 percent of millennials (ages 20 to 36) surveyed by Allianz Life Insurance Co of North America said social media pushes people to compare their wealth and lifestyle to others’. Only 71 percent of Generation X (ages 37 to 51), and just 54 percent of baby boomers (52 to 70) feel the same way.

Enviable images of other peoples’ lives used to come mostly from glossy magazines and TV, but now we are constantly getting a peek via social media.

“It can be an overwhelming influence on how you see the world,” said Paul Kelash, vice president of consumer insights at Allianz Life. “If you pay too much attention, then you might start making decisions you otherwise wouldn’t in your spending.”

DO I REALLY NEED IT?

To avoid getting into financial trouble, be honest about what is most important to you.

“Ask: Do I really need that, or do I just want it?” Kelash said.

Once that line is clearly differentiated, keep track of your budget and set goals. For the short term, that could be a vacation. A medium-term goal might be a house, while a long-term goal for most of us is retirement, he added.

The temptation to spend is partly why Joanna Zheng, a 24-year-old equity analyst in New York, recently cut back on her social media use.

“Seeing a friend (on Facebook or Instagram) who is particularly well-dressed or has a cute purse makes me wonder how I can enhance my own wardrobe,” Zheng said.

When Zheng shops, however, she rarely regrets it and makes sure to compensate in other ways. Recently, Zheng bought a pair of merino wool Allbirds sneakers for around $100 that a friend recommended after later seeing several ads on Facebook. For the next few weeks, she avoided shopping areas to stem temptation.

Advertising companies understand how powerful social media ads can be. In 2017, Facebook alone brought in $39.9 billion of revenue from ads. Companies will pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to have their product mentioned in social media posts by an influencer with a large following.

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, recently rolled out Instagram Shopping, which allows people to view product descriptions and pricing without ever leaving the app

Spending is also driven by posts from friends and family. In the Allianz Life survey, more than half of millennials report a “fear or missing out,” also known as FOMO. In fact, 61 percent said they feel inadequate about their own life and what they have because of social media.

To curb impulse purchases, decide ahead of time whether you are going online to shop or if you are just browsing, Palmer advises. Close out other shopping tabs to limit spending.

And rather than buying things immediately, Palmer suggests putting things in your basket to save and then revisit in a day or two. That makes it easier to take a step back and ask if the purchase fits your goals and budget.

An added bonus: Sometimes retailers will send a discount code to entice you to buy.

“It’s about separating that initial impulse to buy,” Palmer said.

(Editing by Lauren Young and Leslie Adler)

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This College Dropout Is Schooling Influencers and Startups on How to Get a Next Level Social Media Following

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Ryan Hertel, Founder of Socialocca

College isn’t for everyone. Ryan Hertel can vouch. He spent three semesters studying mass communications at King’s College, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, after surrendering to pressure from his parents to follow the traditional pathway to money and happiness. Now, the 24-year-old is running his own business — a creative branding agency called Socialocca — in the same field in which many of his degree-holding peers are struggling to stay afloat or even secure entry-level jobs.

As influencers and startups are waking up each day to grind and shine and stand out, Ryan has his finger on the pulse of what works in marketing, what doesn’t and where social media is going. He recently spoke to Better than the Weekend to share some insights.

You’re an unlikely choice to be administering marketing advice to companies. You don’t have a college degree. What makes you an expert? I’m helping people build their brand online. In order to do that, I don’t necessarily need a marketing degree. I just need to have the experience of building a brand. The reason I can even contend when it comes to being in the know about branding and social media and marketing is because I built a DJ’ing business and was successful at building that business by utilizing social media to spread the word and get more than 13,000 followers on Instagram alone. Most people with a marketing degree say, ‘Hey, I know what I’m doing. I was taught what to do.’ I can say, ‘Hey, I know what I’m doing. I used social media to make money for my own business. I can do it for you.’ A lot of people have the knowledge of what to do, but they don’t actually have the track record to prove they can grow a brand’s following. 

Photographed by Lisa Petz

Influencers and newer companies may feel their credibility lies in numbers. Some buy followers to build their credibility. What are the pros and cons to focusing on the amount of followers you have in the beginning by paying for them? People who don’t know what they’re doing who want to be social media influencers do this too often when they’re starting out. There aren’t any pros to buying followers anymore. There were when people were easily fooled and buying followers weren’t a common practice. You can’t fake the following anymore. It’s easy to spot a fake audience today. Plus, fake followers will actually hurt your algorithms on Instagram or Facebook. Less of your real following will see your content. A bunch of fake accounts will see your content and your level of engagement will make you look far less popular than you should be. 

Some services promote buying real followers. Are there any services you know of that do this which you’d recommend? That’s not a real thing. They’re scams. Don’t fall for it. I’d recommend any service that acknowledges they can’t grow your service overnight and one that focuses on goals and not guaranteeing a certain amount of followers. Anybody who says they guarantee results is lying to you. Organic marketing cannot be guaranteed. It all depends on how good the marketing campaign is and how good the content is. 

How important are hashtags in connecting with new followers? They’re not important any more. Plain and simple, anyone who knows what they’re doing on social media doesn’t care about hashtags. They were cool like four years ago. Now, we’re just at the point where some of these hashtags are used by 56 million other people. Hashtags are way too oversaturated. No-one is sitting on their phone and looking up hashtags. It might get a couple more likes, but they’re usually from auto-generated services, anyway. Instagram is now doing something called shadow banning, where they’re even hiding many of these hashtags because they’re trying to slow down the feed. So your hashtag might not even be seen. If you’re relying on hashtags, you have to get way more creative with your marketing.

What is important when marketing your posts? What’s most important, above everything, is the quality of the post. Posting too frequently hurts your feed. Posting quality pics and videos less frequently will be more beneficial, because those posts can circulate for a couple of days if they’re quality posts. People are on social media to listen to what you have to say. It’s now a popularity contest, not a contest as to who posts the most.

Then is consistency still important, or has consistency evolved in terms of marketing on social media? The consistency of the quality of your post is better than the consistency of when you post. While being consistent is important, people get a little too carried away with it, thinking they have to post twice a day at the same time every day. That’s too much for people to take in. They need to be more consistent with the quality of what they’re putting out there and not the time.

Ryan Hertel, Founder of Socialocca

Any tips for influencers and brands when it comes to engaging with their audience? It’s important to actually engage with others and not just post content. Like posts. Comment. Not just on your feed, but there’s too. Even as a business, you want to Like posts and engage on other accounts. Tag people you’re working with. If you’re just sitting there doing nothing, nobody is going to remember you or think about you. If they constantly see you tagging and interacting with others like a regular person, they’re going to take you more seriously.

Where is social media headed? Everything is starting to turn into people asking, ‘What are they doing right now?’ Look at Snapchat and Instagram stories and Facebook Live. You can really cast your entire day on social media for people to see and people will watch. They’re interested in seeing what you’re doing in real-time, they respond to it, and they rush to see it before it usually disappears in 24 hours. When it comes to structure and systems and processes, it’s important to know rules don’t apply. No one rule applies to the same two people or company. Influencers and brands need to start living in the moment and capturing that. The future of social media is immediacy.

And there you have it. Now make like Missy Elliot, put your thing down, flip it, and reverse it onto your own social media branding agenda. Good luck!

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Watch This Solider Dunk for Donuts

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Jason Ciesielski is a Field Artillery Soldier in the Army National Guard and an athlete making his mark on social media. When he’s not busy serving his country, the 20-year-old can be seen on his Instagram and Facebook page showing off high box jumps, dead lifts and freestyle dunks.

“I want to empower people to be the best, strongest versions of themselves,” he says.

Jason recently went Live on Facebook with Better than the Weekend to dunk while treating himself to one of his guilty pleasures — Dunkin’ Donuts. He picked out four of his favorite fried cakes of sweetened dough and made sure he dunked before indulging his sweet tooth. Moral of the story: You can still be fit and eat what you want, as long as you work for it.

Watch and see how he did. Ladies, you’re welcome. 😉

Dunkin' for Donuts

Real men earn their donuts 🏅Ask Jason Tyler Ciesielski

Posted by Better than the Weekend on Wednesday, April 18, 2018

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How to Stop Being a Pussy and Be the Lion You Were Born to Be

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Adobe Stock Image

Gentleman,

We are hard-wired to be lions; to go after something we want.

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It’s in our nature to be a total savage when chasing after our desires — despite the consequences. In modern culture, where social media is redefining our lifestyle, we seem to be transforming into this fear-based robot who stays in their comfort zone and doesn’t reach too far.

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My name is Jesse Mundt. I’m a 23-year-old realtor from New Jersey. I’m not worried about remembering Harambe, learning the fucking Juju dance or getting blackout wasted. I’m focused on hitting my goals. I want to see other millennials get as excited as I am about hitting their goals. That’s why I’m here to offer some advice on how to break this formula of being a pussy and finally be the lion you were born to be.

Don’t be a dick. Hear me out.

You’re probably a lot like me, actually. I want to be rich and successful.

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Photo provided by Jesse Mundt

But before we move forward, I believe we have to go backward.

First step in being a fucking lion is to sit down and be your 6-year-old self again — this time with some intellect. Ask yourself these questions: What do you want your life to look like if you couldn’t fail? How much money do you want to make? How big do you want your house to be? What’s your dream car?

Be specific. Your answers should give you butterflies and chills just thinking about them.

Next, dust off the creativity and imagination of your childhood self and dream BIG. Imagine your adult life if your childhood dreams became a reality. (Remember, you only limit your own thoughts. So go fucking wild while dreaming what your life could be like.)

Lastly, find a mentor. Someone who has what you want and is willing to teach you how to get it. Keep in mind, you can’t teach what you don’t have so be careful who you take advice from, especially those close to you. (For example, if you want to make $100,000 each year but the person teaching you makes $60,000 a year, it’s impossible. You get it.)

Being a gentleman isn’t limited to how you respect a woman. A true gentleman works on himself and constantly strives for growth. It’s not only our duty as gentleman, but as human beings.
That’s how he become a fearless lion and takes on the world.

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Are you willing to give up your comfort zone to go up?

I am.

From one gentleman to another,

Jesse

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