saving moneyMy teenage daughter, like her friends, pretty much lives on her Twitter and Facebook accounts. Me, not quite so much. I’m not a huge fan of sharing little bits of my daily life in short sentences.

The way I do use social media, however, allows me to save money. Every few days, I check our neighborhood bakery’s Twitter account—I can earn a scone or a loaf of bread for stopping in and tweeting a message about their special offers. I also check Amazon’s tweets (@Amazondeals) for Gold Box flash deals.

Following companies on Twitter or Facebook is a simple way to earn discounts, score coupons, or hear about specials before the general public does. Retailers know that if they offer you nice enough incentives, you may also read their promotional posts. Not a bad trade.

If you’ve had a negative experience with a company, making contact on Twitter or Facebook is often a lightning-fast way to get its attention—and possibly get back money you’ve spent. A complaint you make over social media is instantly available for all to see. As a result, most companies will bend over backwards to resolve your issue quickly and publicly—often in a Twitter reply or Facebook comment.

For instance, I recently saw a Twitter exchange in which a restaurant apologized and offered a free meal to a customer who had complained about bad service. The unhappy customer was satisfied, and the restaurant’s followers got to see how much the company valued its customers.

And if a little friend-to-friend sharing over social media can help you save money toward a goal—like a new computer or your upcoming honeymoon—would you try it? SmartyPig lets users link their savings goals to their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Every time the user makes a deposit in the free SmartyPig account, it triggers a status post (sort of a public pat on the back). Through SmartyPig, friends and family can also make donations toward the user’s goal.

Money accumulated in a SmartyPig account earns interest and can eventually be transferred to a traditional savings or checking account, loaded onto a prepaid debit card, or redeemed for retailer gift cards that often come with a bonus reward of 10 percent more than the card’s original value.

All in all, these represent a few good reasons to dust off a neglected Twitter or Facebook account—with no pressure to post cute dog pictures or descriptions of what you ate at the hip new food cart.

Teri Cettina is a mom of two daughters and freelance writer who specializes in personal finance and parenting topics. She blogs at Your Family Money. Follow her on Twitter: @TeriCettina