[The guest post is by Jessy Troy, a blogger collecting DIY Gadgets and health writer.]
People make purchases via the Internet, through catalogs and in stores, but if there’s one way of buying that brings us all together its the way we ask advice. Chances are, if you have a question or need a recommendation about a potential purchase, you’ll ask your friends and family. It makes perfect sense; they’re not trying to sell you anything, and won’t hold back on details that might affect you in the future too.
Luckily for our generation, the Internet is available to answer many of our retail questions by aggregating and collecting the opinions and experiences of buyers all over the world. There are four ways to utilize this information, and four places online to find it…
1. Ask on Instant Messenger
IM is admittedly a lot more restrictive as you’re generally talking to just one to three people at one time, but that’s not the only way that an instant messenger client can be used.
If you install the Aardvark Facebook application, you can get answers to your questions quickly and easily. Once you let it access your account, you then need to add Aardvark to your friend list within your IM client. From there, you ask Aardvark a client and it finds a relevant expert to answer for you. This clever app is automated, so you needn’t worry about pleasantries, hellos and goodbyes until the question expert has been found.
2. Harness the Power of Twitter
Many people create a Twitter account, use it for a week and then give up because it’s not what they expected. The difference between these people and those who stay is that the first group don’t take the time to learn how to use it to their advantage. It really pays off to follow real people (not bots) who share your interests and use Twitter regularly too.
If you follow enough people and build up relationships with some of them then you’re quite likely to get an answer to your questions within 30 minutes of asking. There is, however, a way to get your question answered without all that prior hard work, and even without creating a twitter account in the first place. It’s called Twitter search and it is essentially a search engine giving results taken from every tweet sent. Just search for your keyword, with a question mark following it and you’ll receive relevant results.
Take iPhone coupons questions, for example. You can search for ‘iPhone coupons ?’ and then get something along these lines back…
3. Take Advantage of Facebook Tools
The Internet may be a hive of information, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the expertise and experience of your friends and family. Not only can you invite them out on a shopping trip by creating an event, but you can also make use of various applications on the site too.
We recommend you add an application called What I Want. It essentially provides a way to create your own shopping lists, and then share them with your contacts and anyone who is interested. You can make wish lists, recommended lists and normal shopping lists to be edited at any time and made visible to whomever you choose. You can then search for the products in your lists on the web’s favorite sites (e.g. GAP, Wal-Mart, Amazon etc).
4. Join Online Shopping Communities
There are social networking sites online for almost any hobby and interest known to man, so it should come as no surprise that there are hundreds designed with online shoppers in mind. Joining one of these sites means you can find out about the latest deals as soon as they come in, talk to other shopping enthusiasts and get answers to your questions from people who care and understand what you mean.
You should choose your network wisely, by checking out how many users it has, how friendly and helpful the people on there are and how much it relates to your area of interest. To take the work out of searching, you may try PromoCodes.us (US-only!) or CouponSherpa (incorporates some handy social voting elements). This site is sufficiently active enough to provide some great information that’s updated regularly, it’s moderated well so there’s no spam or irrelevant content, and it has a simple interface so new users integrate quickly.
Once you have a Buxr account, just ask your question in the forum and wait for replies. You can set up your account so that you receive an email whenever your question thread is replied to, so you never miss out on important information.
These are just four of the possible ways to get your money-saving question answered online. Do you have any more to share? If so, please let us know in the comments section below…