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Panels... To Join Or Not To Join?

Panels... To Join Or Not To Join?
Tricia Wehner
By Tricia Wehner
on Mar 01, 2012 :: comments image 23 Comments
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  Have you ever heard a friend or associate talk about that "special online panel" that they were a part of, and how the panel was a waste of time? Or, maybe you have someone who gives praise to panels? Well, let's talk about that issue.

  I, personally, have a strong affinity for online panels and surveys. I am one of those who praise them. But I wasn't always so open. I was a hardcore skeptic who said that "panels and surveys were frauds that only wanted your information and people could never actually reap benefits from joining or completing them."

I WAS SO WRONG! About 7 months ago, I had quite a traumatic event happen in my life and I needed something to take my mind off of the pressure and stress I was enduring. Enter MASSIVE internet browsing and coupon searching. At first it was, "Oh, I can save a few pennies on this package of food" then it started to grow. And then I began recieving emails from panels and companies asking me "If I had the time" to "please fill out this survey". I used to just delete the emails and deem them as spam, until I started reading, and then answering and filling out surveys, and I began joining panels.

  Once I started joining panels, I began to receive opportunities for product testing and surveys, and, to my suprise, IT REALLY PAYS OFF! I have been compensated and gifted so many products over the past months, and I love it! All for browsing the net, answering surveys, and joining panels. But that is just my experience of panels and surveys. Now, we get to the not so good part, the UGLY part.

  I would say (but don't quote me on it) that for every 10 good experiences from paneling/surveying, there are at least 2 bad experiences. Yes, out in the internet world where the word "FREE" is like pollen to bees, people from all over are clamoring for a freebie. And sometimes...the freebie isn't real, or even worse, a scam. 

  This is where the skeptics come in. Where I once was. The "I knew it was too good be true" line. I have to admit, there are some pretty sneaky people out there who set up websites and feature a "free product" to get people to sign up and then they take your personal info and use it for who knows what. That's the scary and bad part about surveys. Panels, I think, are free of scams. But BUYER BEWARE. No matter what I or your sister, brother, or best friend says about anything online ... find out yourself. If it sounds "too good be to true", or you get a sense that something is amiss, then don't do it. That's the rule of thumb. If you never requested info on a product or brand, or the email just seems fishy, dont open it and don't send out your info. If you want, research the party that emailed you before you do a survey or join a panel. It's better to be safe than sorry, you know? 

   What are you thoughts on company panels and online surveys? Do you think they are worth the time? Why or why not?

Tricia Wehner
Mommy of 3 lovely children,and a blogger/writer.I love life !
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23 Comments social divider Add your comment
mintmom   ::  on Mar 01, 2012  

I've never received anything from doing surveys and feel it's mostly a waste of time.

suzieqmac6   ::  on Mar 01, 2012  

I have been a panel member of several survey panels and been doing product testing 7 yrs.. It takes a while to get the hang of it- which ones are legit. At the beginning there is lots to fill out, but once you are established on a panel, it is easy. I earn several hundred dollars a year as well as lots of free products to try and give opinions on. I haven't paid for Starbucks or Olive Garden in 4 years, due to receiving gift cards as compensation,some of the panels reward points instead of cash and I use them for stocking stuffers for my girls at Christmas (CDs calendars, perfume, etc) My favorite test was last Fall when I received a Keurig Platnium machine and all the coffee free to try for 3 months. After honestly answering 2 surveys, I received an email at the end of the 3 months saying the machine was mine to keep. Awesome! It may not be for everyone, but if you are at your laptop in the evenings while watching TV anyway- it's a great way to bring in some extra cash and good stuff.

mardel   ::  on Mar 01, 2012  

What or were do we go to be part of that survey panel you ladies speak of? Thanks

jemappel   ::  on Mar 01, 2012  

As a researcher who writes and analyzes the types of surveys you are talking about, this discussion makes me a little uncomfortable. Please know that while there are benefits for panelists who take surveys, there are people behind the scenes - researchers like me and companies who are paying for the surveys - who genuinely want to know what you think, and that's why they are asking you to take the survey. Sometimes people just rush through surveys and don't even read the questions because they're just concerned about getting prizes and points. We researchers DO want to compensate panelists for giving feedback with points and prizes, because we truly appreciate it. But we also want to know that you are committed to giving genuine feedback. We use the information to make better products and provide better information to customers, so your honesty is very important. Thank you. (and enjoy your points and prizes :-) !!)

mardel   ::  on Mar 01, 2012  

@jemapple I hope it wasn't my comment that made it seem that the only reason I do take surveys or are interested in them is because of the points or prizes because that's not the case. I do surveys because I like voicing my opinion. It's just that I haven't found a great site to join.

jemappel   ::  on Mar 01, 2012  

@mardel Absolutely not! Please do not take my comment personally (nor should anyone else on this thread!). It's just a shame that panels are often promoted only as a way for people to get points and's a shame because the panel companies don't communicate that researchers and companies genuinely care about the panelists' opinions, and I think that is also motivating to people who take surveys. And then sometimes panelists lie about who they are or create multiple profiles because they think they'll get invited to take more surveys that way. However, I encourage anyone and everyone to join a panel - we want great survey-takers! - I just want panelists to know that we really care about their feedback and to make sure they're honest about who they are and what they think. So please find a good one and join!

spark5   ::  on Mar 01, 2012  

I don't like doing surveys usually as most of them are too long. But I have joined product marketing campaign companies and do belong to 2-3 online panels/focus groups. These I do find to be very worthwhile. For a minimum of effort - usually just completing one short task a week - I get at least $10 a month from each of them and there's lots of extra opportunities to earn more. I haven't yet had very many product testing experiences - so far my compensation has been monetary.

Sunnyd721   ::  on Mar 01, 2012  

I'm Afraid of being scammed, so many copy Carter's out there.. I'm glad this is an trending topic, I'm Learning much..:)

Andrear25   ::  on Mar 01, 2012  

I've joined a few panels, tested a couple of products and have done lots of surveys - some of which can be quite long. Also, I have received a few small gift cards and have lots of points with a couple of panels...that I'm not sure what to do with. I do enjoy the surveys and like the feeling that my opinions/experiences can help in some way.

spark5   ::  on Mar 01, 2012  

@mardel (general mills) ( pinecone research swagbucks irazoo zoombucks once you check them out & see which ones you want to/can join - you can help me out by using my referral link - so let me know...! & there's lots of other survey panel sites Harris Poll

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