Social media

7 ways your Facebook and Instagram habits could cost you money – or worse

The social media world might look like it’s just a place of fun and connection, but there are traps and pitfalls for the unwary – here are some of the most common you should know about

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 August, 2016, 4:32pm
UPDATED : Friday, 05 August, 2016, 4:50pm

The average person spends almost two hours a day on social media, according to a 2015 Statista survey, which means you’re probably on social media sites and apps a lot. This means you’re among Twitter’s 310 million active monthly users, Instagram’s 400 million users and Facebook’s 1.65 billion active monthly users.

Before you launch Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, there are some reasons you might want to pause – especially if its costing you money. Here are seven ways your social media habits might take a toll on your bank account.

It’s affecting your career

There have been several instances of people getting fired over things they’ve posted on Facebook and other social media platforms; don’t let yourself get added to that list. From posting photos from that party you got drunk at to complaining about work, everyone has had “status update regret”. That’s why thinking before you post is probably a good idea.

Social media perils could have fatal consequences on brand reputation of companies

You should also think about how what you’ve posted on social media might affect future jobs – whether you’re searching for a job now, or will be in the future. Over half of all employers go online to research candidates on social media, according to a 2015 CareerBuilder survey.

So the smart move is to keep it clean. Avoid posting, or delete, any questionable photos, status updates with swear words, spelling and grammatical errors, or complaints about current employers. You never know when careless posts could cost you a job – or your next big salary.

You’re falling victim to scams

Don’t share your personal information with anyone over social media for any reason. It’s also a good idea to look out for shopping scams, such as purchasing clothing and not knowing what you’ll be getting, or being offered a job to sell on Facebook or Instagram.

Social media warnings about scams

“These businesses lure potential team members with the promise of being able to do marketing solely on social media. However, they usually require [you] to purchase a large amount of product in advance and recruit others in order to make money, meaning spending money is necessary to turn a profit,” says Jasmine Goodwin, owner of Socialbright Media.

Change your LinkedIn password: social network says hacker stole 117 million users’ credentials

To avoid these scams and others, Dasheeda Dawson, director of digital marketing for daily deals website, suggests not providing any personal information to anyone on social media or messenger platforms.

“Beware of scammers that will leverage information from your social profile to contact you via another medium,” Dawson says. “Facebook and Instagram both give users the discretion to report individual posts on their timeline. While you should use this last tactic sparingly, this is the most effective way to bring attention to a suspicious user on a social platform.”

Social media ads pull you in

It’s easy to get sucked in by advertisements on social media, especially when those ads don’t even look like ads (thanks, Instagram). Many of these ads are specifically targeted at you, and users like you, so they can be very tempting.

Instagram and Facebook ads are targeted at you based on your location, browsing history, shared personal information, your interests and more, TechInsider reports. If you keep that in mind, it might be easier to avoid clicking through and buying something you don’t need to begin with. Don’t let someone else dictate what you spend your money on. It’s as simple as that.

You want what your friends and celebrities have

How many waist trainers did you start seeing on Instagram after Kim Kardashian posted a photo of herself wearing one? A lot, probably. After all, it became a social media trend. That’s because Facebook and Instagram tend to provoke consumerism.

‘It’s like a sauna for my belly’: corset-like waist trainer meets sceptical scientists

It’s “I want what they have” syndrome, and it doesn’t just start and stop with celebs. When a friend posts a photo of a new dress, expensive make-up or perhaps even a new car, it might influence you to go out and buy one, too. And if you don’t have the extra cash to spend on these expensive items, Instagram or Facebook can really start to cost you. Even if you can afford some luxuries, spur-of-the-moment spending isn’t healthy.

It could be bad for your health

If you fall asleep reading posts on social media, you might not realise how harmful that can be for both your sleep and your eyes. Staring at the blue light from your tablet or smartphone might cause long-term eye damage if you’re not careful, and this digital eye strain can lead to expensive doctor’s visits or treatments for nearsightedness or other issues later on in life, according to

Stop staring at the screen, and give your eyes a break often to prevent any persistent health issues. Next time you’re lying in bed and want to scroll through dozens of Instagram and Facebook posts, resist the urge.

You pay for followers and engagement

It’s easy to get wrapped up in making an online presence for yourself (or your brand, if you have one). You want more followers, more likes and more comments – and that can lead you to wanting to buy followers or engagement for your social media accounts.

“I’ve worked with clients who have asked about buying followers, likes and comments,” says Aristotle Eliopoulos, social media specialist for 9thCO. “None of these businesses that ask you to buy engagement are fraudulent – beyond the moral point – but a user buying followers expecting for these users to legitimately like, comment and respond to your content [should know that] these are bots that provide a number to your account … nothing else.”

Although you might get an initial boost in the number of people who follow you, in the end, it won’t help you get more engagement if they’re all just bots. Save your money and don’t waste it on “fake followers”. Just focus on creating your own engaging content, and grow your audience organically.

You accidentally posted some financial information

Although you should be cautious when posting personal information to social media in general, posting your financial information – whether accidentally or not – can also have severe consequences.

Never post a photo of your credit card, debit card, cheques or any other financial info. If you post financial information on your social media accounts, especially photos of cards, your bank accounts or even your identity can be compromised. And if your bank accounts are compromised, you could be out a lot more than a few dollars.

The next time you pull out your phone to innocently browse Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any other social media app, think twice. Know what you’re sharing, don’t overshare and don’t click on just any cool link or photo that pops into your feed.