When I was a kid, one of my whimsical grown-up fantasies was to have the job of taste tester. A school film documented the daily lives of the fast food and ice cream taste tester, whose one job was to master the heart of flavor one bite or sip at a time.
It didn’t sound like a bad gig. Neither did the short-term prospect of getting invited to a focus group to try a new product. I would share my opinion. Maybe I would receive a complimentary gift card in the process.
As I grew older, I abandoned taste testing dreams for bigger and better professional ambitions – writer, teacher, nurse. I averted my eyes from the young men and women clutching clipboards in the mall food court, sensing any sign of weak prey that would be willing to spend 30 minutes answering questions about dish soap in a tattered, vacant mall parcel.
Enter social media – the best thing to ever happen to eager, enthusiastic, tech-friendly consumers like you and me. To have your opinion heard about a product or service, you can simply log on to Facebook or Twitter. Social platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are hot spots for enter-and-win contests and deals that you can seek and find on your time – not while you’re trying to buy your mother’s birthday present. These days, the social network is taking consumer social listening even further, with sites like Influenster willing to send you free products in exchange for your opinion.