Increase Your Financial IQ Through Social Media

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Increase Your Financial IQ Through Social Media You may not have considered leveraging social media for financial management advice and assistance, but you can. From learning about the latest financial tools and strategies to seeking guidance on how to set your budget, social media is connecting businesses through blogs, Twitter™, LinkedIn® and other networking channels. This guide provides techniques that can help you increase your financial expertise, including: • Tap Social Media for Financial Advice, pg. 1 • Help Improve Your Financial Picture, pg. 4 • Cardmember Profile: Alexis Miesen, Blue Marble: Social Media Aids Ice Cream Shop’s Effort to Make Non-Profit Project a Reality, pg. 5 • Social Media Resources, pg. 7 • Glossary of Social Media Terms, pg. 8 TAP SOCIAL MEDIA FOR FINANCIAL ADVICE As a business owner, you need to stay on top of your company’s finances. In addition to effective financial management practices, social media can help you stay current on events in the financial world so you can better manage your business. Here are four areas in which social media can help you improve your financial management skills: 1. Stay Informed Through Money Management Channels A wealth of financial resources is available online offering objective and useful content. Here are some popular social media outlets to consider for financial information:

BAILARD, INC. Member Since: 1992

Blogs and forums: • Compare notes, ask questions and receive advice from finance experts like Henry Blodget (in the Money topic) and Jean Chatzky (in the Lifestyle topic) on, from American Express OPEN. Learn from other small businesses at The New York Times’ small business blog (, and The Wall Street Journal’s small business community ( Learn more about social media at pg. 1


from financial advisors and other professionals. The Finance and Accounting category ( tegory=FIN) has subcategories ranging from accounting to risk management. • Ask for advice on client management, invoicing and other topics through communities on FreshBooks ( and Outright ( • Yahoo!® Finance’s Facebook page ( and Twitter account ( feature money management tips. 3. Access New Sources of Financing J.C. RESTORATION, INC Warner Cruz Member Since: 1982

Twitter: • Receive investing assistance and real-time stock market quotes from SmartMoney magazine (@smartmoney). NASDAQ® also offers real-time quotes through a partnership with Stocktwits (@datajunkies). • Access tax tips from the IRS (@IRSTaxTips) and H&R Block® (@hrblock) and follow (@BusinessDotGov) for help on taxes, loans and grants. • Explore small business trends and help improve your financial management knowledge from Small Business Trends (@smallbiztrends). • Received insights about accounting and financial management from small business experts on OPEN Forum: @OPENForum 2. Manage Your Expenses Many web sites and software applications are available that can help you watch your company’s finances. Consider these popular tools: • LinkedIn Answers ( lets LinkedIn members pose specific questions to the LinkedIn community and receive feedback

If you have ever reached out to venture capital or angel investment firms, you know that personal connections can be critical in getting a foot in the door. Social media resources like these can help make it easier to start and enrich these relationships. • The Small Business Administration’s site has a Facebook account ( with advice and information on its low-interest loan programs and how to get loans through private banks and financial institutions. Its finance section ( provides information on SBA’s many funding programs. • If you haven’t sought outside funding before, you may want to look for advice on sites such as BizSugar ( • Visit sites such as Angel Capital Association ( and Red Herring ( to identify firms that invest in your type of business. Then subscribe to their blogs and follow them on Twitter so you can learn as much as you can before starting a dialogue. • Once you get a feel for the investors you want to target, add comments to their posts. Follow them on Twitter and retweet posts you find valuable. If appropriate, add a link to their blog from yours. This may spur them to learn more about your business. pg. 2


4. Track Legislative Issues Another important aspect of financial management is to stay attuned to the legislative issues occurring in your industry: • Watch videos of congressional hearings on YouTube, including the small business committees of the U.S. House of Representatives — Democrats (youtube. com/HouseSmallBizDems) and Republicans ( — and U.S. Senate ( SenateSmallBusiness). • Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) (, a valued Women’s Business Initiative partner of American Express OPEN, features legislative news, a blog, member search and other resources. • To help stay up to date on congressional votes that may affect your company, follow the National Federation of Independent Business on Twitter (@NFIB).

JENNIFER’S HOMEMADE Jennifer Behar Member Since: 2005

Staying on top of the latest financial information can be prudent for your business. As with all financial advice, don’t rely on any one source and make sure you read financial content regularly and incorporate it into your daily routine. Because much of what is written on blogs and other social media sites is opinion, be sure to seek other opinions or consult with your financial advisor before taking any action that may affect your business. When managing your own social media campaigns, be aware that your tweets and social media posts are a reflection of your business, so post wisely. By staying on top of the right social media channels for your business, you can build valuable contacts and help improve your company’s outlook. Just as important, social media can help you connect with other businesses facing similar challenges. n THE SOLUTIONS! GROUP Kathleen Simon Member Since: 1985

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Help Improve Your Financial Picture By Anita Campbell

Many people associate the business uses of social media with marketing or customer service. But social media can also help you pinpoint financial tools and resources so you can run your business more profitably and strengthen your financial success. Consider these resources and advice to help improve your financial picture: Make the Right Tax Moves Try the calculators and money-saving tools at Turbo Tax® ( The TurboTax TaxCaster tool even comes in an app that you can download and use on your smart phone. Or go to YouTube and search for “tax tips” to watch explanations of tax requirements and tips on how to save on your taxes; even the IRS is posting videos on YouTube. The comments section on the videos may yield even more insight. You can also receive tax tips from reading blogs like TaxGirl® ( and downloading podcasts from sites like Tax Mama’s TaxQuips ( Find a Mentor/Advisor Mentors, counselors and business coaches can be located and hired online, where they may blog or participate in social media. BizMore™ ( is a community where you can connect with experienced professionals. You can also receive expert help online at the SCORE® web site and blogs ( Seek Expert Advice If a formal mentor or coach is not your style, you can seek answers to financial questions in the

community section of one of the many questionand-answer sites available today, such as® (answers.,™ ( and ( Educate Yourself about Niche Topics On certain topics — particularly niche industries such as affiliate marketing or the latest tech news — blogs, Twitter and discussion forums may have the most up-to-date information. On user-generated content sites, you may be able to find information days, weeks or months before it hits the mainstream media. Learn the “go to” sources in your industry on whatever topics you follow closely and check them regularly to help make smarter business moves. Stay on Top of New Offerings The trend toward software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications means new or updated offerings can debut all the time. SaaS is software that is deployed over the Internet and is usually accessed through a subscription or pay-as-you-go model. Monitoring the Twitter, Facebook and blog accounts of key vendors means you are likely to become more aware of the tools and offerings they introduce. n

Anita Campbell is editor and founder of Small Business Trends, LLC, which manages online communities touching more than 300,000 small business owners and managers each month. Her flagship web site is the awardwinning Small Business Trends ( Anita is also a featured expert for OPEN Forum®. Find more insights from Anita at

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Cardmember Profile: Alexis Miesen, Blue Marble Social Media Aids Ice Cream Shop’s Effort To Make Non-Profit Project a Reality

Not many businesses use social media for fundraising yet, but interest is growing — and a few are succeeding at it. In fact, the owners of Blue Marble Ice Cream in Brooklyn, NY, raised nearly 60% of their fundraising goal to open a nonprofit initiative in Rwanda through social media, email and other online initiatives. The power of social media and positive word of mouth helped them bring their dream to life in less than two years. Alexis Miesen and Jennie Dundas, who own Blue Marble, came up with the idea to open the ice cream shop in Rwanda in 2008 after Dundas met a Rwandan drummer and playwright at the Sundance Institute in Utah. The campaign got rolling when they entered the Members Project®, an online initiative from American Express and TakePart, that provides an opportunity for those with a passion for philanthropy to make a difference and receive funding for their favorite charitable organizations. Ultimately, the Rwandan project wasn’t selected, but that didn’t stop Miesen and Dundas. In fact, the viral aspect of their social media efforts kept spreading to make more people aware of what they hoped to do. “We would have never been able to get this off the ground if it weren’t for our blog and Facebook page, which helped us spread the word, especially at the beginning,” Miesen says. Here’s how they used social media to help gain traction for their project: 1. Create Awareness The Members Project urged consumers to vote for charities they thought deserved financial support. Organizations were encouraged to use social media

to spread their messages. Miesen and Dundas entered the Members Project, wrote about their initiative on their blog, created a Facebook page to support their efforts and sent emails asking friends and customers to vote for them. The Blue Marble team has since added Twitter to their social media mix, leaving them with six social media channels: three promoting the ice cream business and three highlighting Blue Marble Dreams, the nonprofit arm of the company created especially for the Rwanda project: • Blog: • Twitter: @bluemarblebk • Facebook page: • Dreams blog: • Dreams Twitter: @BlueMarbleDream • Dreams Facebook page: Blue-Marble-Dreams/250201727082 Another staff member now updates the three Blue Marble social media outlets, while they lined up two local volunteers in Rwanda to help with the store opening and update the Blue Marble Dreams blog, Facebook and Twitter pages. 2. Build Momentum Miesen and Dundas worked to spread the word online, making a large number of people aware of what they hoped to accomplish. “That was a huge boost in helping us get the word out initially, and then it just took on a life of its own. It just became one of those viral things,” Miesen says, adding that they received responses from people as far away as Cuba and Germany. pg. 5


“It’s funny how this quirky idea became a mandate,” Miesen says. “We started getting offers of help, everything from PR to restaurant design to legal help. People just heard about the project and felt compelled to pitch in.” 3. Keep Interest Alive Even more people will learn about the Rwanda project once a documentary about it is released. The shop owners can partially thank social media for that, too. Details of their unique story spread, and they started receiving requests from documentary makers and photographers to tell their story. “From the get-go, we thought if we can pull this off, someone has to tell this story,” Miesen says. “The first-ever ice cream shop run by this group of amazing women. None of them, out of 126 women, had ever even tasted ice cream. And to think, this might not have happened if it weren’t for social media.” Proving that dreams really can come true, Miesen and Dundas opened the Sweet Dreams ice cream shop in Butare, Rwanda, in June 2010, less than two years after they started the project. n Connect with Blue Marble through the OPEN Forum’s Connectodex® at BLUE MARBLE DREAMS

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Social Media Resources Use these resources to help improve your financial IQ. OPEN Forum® Financial Management Resource Center OPEN Forum’s Financial Management Resource Center offers articles and expert advice from contributors Wise Bread, The Simple Dollar, The Business Insider and more. OPEN Forum Stay informed and receive insights from The Business Insider in OPEN Forum’s Money topic. Ask questions and receive advice from personal finance expert Jean Chatzky in OPEN Forum’s Lifestyle topic, presented by Courtyard® Hotels. OPEN Forum on Twitter Tap into the collective ingenuity of other business owners. OPEN on Facebook Discover insights, make connections and get exposure that can help your business grow. OPEN Forum Pulse® OPEN Forum Pulse is a tool that can help you find and follow small business thought leaders on Twitter by aggregating and organizing their tweets in one place, where you can search by business name or industry. This custom platform was designed for small business owners. Business Insider War Room Offers economic news and resources for small businesses. FeedTheBull Provides a community and news, videos and Q&As for users interested in financial news. LinkedIn Group — Social Media and Web 2.0 in Banking and Financial Services A group for members to discuss the use of social media tools in financial services. Money Management International Community page offers ebooks, microsites, videos, podcasts and webinars on financial topics.

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Social Media Resources, cont’d. MoneyStrands™ Helps you manage your money and keep track of your entire financial picture. The site also offers mobile versions of its services. Reddit Financial Planning Covers financial planning issues and provides helpful insights from financial bloggers. Wise Bread

Glossary of Social Media Terms To use social media effectively for your business, it’s important to understand the terminology. Blog: A web site with regular entries that usually consists of news and commentary, graphics and video on a particular subject area. Blogs typically enable readers to post responses. Plug-in: A third-party application that connects to a main application to extend its functionality. RSS Feed: An automated system for distributing frequently updated information from a site (e.g., blog posts, online articles). The user subscribes to an RSS feed in a feedreader program. Retweet: To repeat someone else’s tweet and give them credit for it. This is generally a vote of confidence for the original author. Retweets can help improve a Twitter account’s ranking. Site Aggregator: Tools that bring together multiple social media “feeds” to save users time in accessing relevant content. Social Bookmarking: A method employed by Internet users to share, organize, search and manage content. Some social bookmarking sites have a system that allows users to vote on what bookmarks they found interesting. This saves users time in finding the information they need. Social Media Integration: A site that allows users to communicate across multiple social media sites through a single interface. Social Recommendation Sites: Sites that allow users to rate service providers and to read customer reviews. Businesses can use social recommendation sites as an inexpensive way to increase business. Tweets: Short messages of up to 140 characters sent over the Twitter network. Web Feed: A web feed (or news feed) is a format used to provide users with frequently updated content. Content distributors syndicate a web feed, allowing users to subscribe to it. A web feed is also called a syndicated feed.

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VISIT OPEN FORUM® For more OPEN Insight Guides on Social Media, visit You can find articles, podcasts and videos on a broad range of other business topics on, the online community from American Express OPEN designed to give business owners information, insights and tools, including AcceptPaySM (, which enables businesses to electronically invoice customers and accept online payments, all in one place. OPEN Forum includes articles by business experts such as: • Guy Kawasaki of Alltop® • John Jantsch of DuctTape Marketing • Anita Campbell of Small Business Trends • Henry Blodget of Business Insider • Adam Ostrow of Mashable • Jean Chatzky, financial editor, journalist and best-selling author • And more … In addition to the articles and discussions on OPEN Forum, Cardmembers can create a profile and connect with other business owners in the Connectodex®, giving them an opportunity to build exposure on OPEN Forum. OPEN SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS • — Discover insights, make connections and get exposure that can help your business grow. • @openforum — Follow us on Twitter for the latest headlines from OPEN Forum. • — Nominate yourself for OPEN Forum PulseSM, which brings together the Twitter feeds of some of the most-followed business owners and industry leaders. NOW, TAKE OPEN FORUM ON-THE-GO • OPEN Forum App for iPhone® — Download our free app* available in the App Store and get the latest from OPEN Forum experts. • Visit on your mobile device — Whether on your iPhone, iPad™, or Blackberry® smartphone, OPEN Forum is available. iPhone and iPad are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. [App Storesm is a service mark of Apple Inc.] BlackBerry, RIM®, Research In Motion®, SureType®, SurePress™ and related trademarks, names and logos are the property of Research In Motion Limited and are registered and/or used in the U.S. and countries around the world. American Express is not endorsed, sponsored, affiliated or otherwise authorized by Research In Motion Limited. *Message and data rates may apply.

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Copyright © 2010 American Express Company. All Rights Reserved. The information contained in this document is meant for advisory purposes only. American Express accepts no liability for any outcome of its use. pg. 9