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Matt Morgan • Aug 8, 2014 at 4:00 PM

Tapping your mouse or keyboard could help others tap into valuable resources.

Did you know that if you fill out the quick survey on your Taco Bell receipt you are entered into a $500 weekly drawing? Sam's Club has the same deal for a gift card. If you shop at GameStop you are also directed to fill out a survey at the behest of the employee. Input is crucial to companies to the point of rewarding you and/or their employees by gathering it (...or cameras)! Your opinions are "votes" of sorts to help the company better serve you.


It can be both scary and convenient, especially when it comes to automation. With facial recognition software in a restaurant chain you frequent, your "usual" can be offered up without fuss even if you visit a Seattle McDonald's and you live in Atlanta. It's similar to how a Kroger card works when it prints you coupons at checkout. In some cases you can even be "paid" with a coupon to watch a commercial online or in a store!


Beyond assisting the companies learn which items you like more, you can also help your fellow customers make decisions on which products or services to pick up. If you have been to sites like eBay, you can see the feedback that was left about the seller in order to feel more comfortable that you'll receive what you ordered. Looking at Amazon, you can see reviews others left for the product you may want to purchase. Not all are flattering and that is very important to consider! Amazon also will suggest similar products to you based on what you are browsing so that you can find exactly what you want. Those suggestions are also generated in an algorithm based on the shopping patterns of the millions of transactions that have taken place. It is the retail equivalent of Pandora's "music genome project."


While it can seem frustrating to be besieged with surveys and such, know that your participation can net you some rewards and that you'll be helping other shoppers avoid bad products or service providers. Is that toilet worth buying? It does seem like a good deal. Just move into town and looking for a dentist? Best to check around and see who's getting good reviews. It can take a lot for someone to be motivated enough to spend time writing out a paragraph of rage or praise. Look at some of the most popular YouTube content providers or other social media leaders. Their views may be high but look at how many actually Like, Favorite, and/or Subscribe? If you want them to produce more content, be sure to leave them feedback. If you want Taco Bell to keep the quesorito, do the same. Do you remember when Wendy's spicy chicken was a seasonal sandwich? Now it's a regular menu item!


Our world is increasingly becoming more connected whether we like it or not. We must be conscious of that connectivity in order to help each other thrive and survive; to avoid scams and look for deals. Taking a few minutes to leave a comment on a product can go on to help an unknown number of others who come after you!

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