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3 odd places where surveys rule

Paid surveys have a very simple function for companies. They show what opinions are popular and how products cater to particular demographics. It takes a lot of the guess work out of creating a successful new item.

The alternative would be companies creating a flurry of different designs, selling them immediately and measuring sales afterward. It would be the business equivalent of throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks, and few agencies can afford to do that.

There are a few places that thrive off people throwing things at the wall to see what sticks, however. The world is filled with communities where surveys are taken every day and popular opinion rules. Here are a few examples.

Your Facebook News Feed
Some people believe Facebook is a big popularity contest, and they're right - to an extent. There are a lot of factors that increase the visibility of your Facebook posts, one of which is how many people like or share the content.

According to the International Business Times, Facebook algorithms favor content with more likes, shares and comments. Those posts will ultimately reach  more people's news feeds and could even be featured on one news feed more than once.

That essentially means a post is turned into one simple survey, and a positive response rewards the poster. Viewers basically have the option to agree with the content, ending in a like or a share, or disagree with the content, which usually means disregarding it. The posts that are liked the most tend to dominate more news feeds.

Link aggregator sites and content sharing sites
The same basic concept drives online communities like Imgur, Reddit, Digg and more. Posts that resonate with the audience are more likely to be seen by other users. But the post doesn't necessarily have to be liked, it just has to draw a lot of interest. 

For example, a linked news story about a natural disaster may not necessarily be "liked" but the traffic it draws from users may push it higher on the website's pages. Positive responses aren't rewarded as much as interest, but this is a type of survey, too. Every post is simply a survey asking thousands of unknown users whether the content is interesting or not, and interesting posts dominate the site.

News channels and websites
That same concept drives decisions at news stations as well. Have you ever wondered why a reputable news station might report a story about a celebrity debacle at the same time an important national story is unfolding? Would a news station really cut a report about, say, NSA phone record collection to cover Justin Beiber's arrest? Some would, and some have, and it's all about popular opinions.

Edgy celebrity stories drive ratings. Higher ratings increase the value of advertising space during news casts. Increased value in advertising space means the news station makes more money. Like Facebook and other content sharing sites, it's a popularity contest, and you take a survey every day as to what interests you and what doesn't. 

If you flip the channel during the complex news stories but immediately tune in when a celebrity does something silly, the survey says you want that celebrity material.

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