PhotoThe growth of the Internet has obviously helped many businesses, spawned many jobs and created a lot of industries, but probably one of the biggest uses of the Internet is its sharing component, which has not only made the world seem smaller for many, but it has also made it easier for people to exchange information and borrow ideas from each other.

And probably the biggest web destinations for sharing ideas are Facebook and Twitter, as both sites have been constant go-tos, not only for everyday consumers, but also for those ardent shoppers and tastemakers that many companies rely on to spread the word about its products or new ventures.

And exactly what is a tastemaker?

Many people have heard the term before, but for those who haven’t, a tastemaker is basically a person who is very much "in the know" about areas of consumerism like fashion, gadgetry and style. 

But a tastemaker isn’t just in the know about certain industries; they also have a huge desire to communicate their knowledge on just about every popular social site, because having throngs of followers and people who look up to you and follow your every suggestion, makes you an important asset for any company that wants to reach the young buying public that regularly uses social media.

Oftentimes companies will pay everyday consumers pretty decent sums of money just to tweet or blog about products they’re using or the products they're looking forward to using, so creators of the website Influenster have set themselves up as  a digital liaison of sorts, so both companies and tastemakers can find each other and communicate.

Strong network

PhotoThe site is free to join and the owners encourage people to sign up who either have a bunch of social media followers already or are starting to build a strong network of followers, but more importantly the site wants people who always look for the newest trends and are able to communicate those trends to their followers on a consistent basis. 

And the more successful users are, the more they’ll be rewarded by the companies and brands that Influenster works with.

And what are those rewards you might ask?

It really depends on how successful you are at spreading the word to your followers about a particular product, so if you’re one of those people who normally take photos of things you see online, in stores or in restaurants, Influenster wants you do the same thing but just through them.

The whole idea of the site is to let others know what’s on the horizon of both trend and coolness, while giving users the chance to be rewarded for their social media postings.

One of the chief goals for each user is to get a badge, which symbolizes their level of influence.

For example the “Influenster badge”-- which is the highest badge of honor -- shows other users and brands that you have a vast reach when it comes to letting people know about a new item or a new project being introduced.

Other badges the site offers, like the “Expert,” show just where your expertise lies, whether it's fashion, gaming, travel, environmental causes or other areas.

Creators of the site say users who do a lot of sharing and tastemaking will have access to information that shows just how much you’re tweeting, posting and sharing to help lift a company’s sales. Successful users will also have access to products before they’re released, special promotions and exclusive sales deals, and the more sharing you do the bigger the rewards.

Invitation required

To join Influenster, you’ll have to request an invitation, which entails filling out a form and providing your name, email, etc., and you’ll also be asked to indicate what social sites you frequent so companies and brands know just how you’re communicating.

PhotoThe site also uses what it calls “Influenster Scores” to determine what badges you receive and how many rewards you’ll get, and the numbers are mainly driven by how much you participate on the site and how much you communicate through social media.

The general Internet reviews about Influenster are fairly good, but if there’s a downside to the site, it’s how much legwork one has to do in order to get significant deals or rewards.

So if you’re a person who’s thinking about using the site in order to rack up a bunch of free stuff, you’ll probably be disappointed -- but what’s good is that Influenster comes right out and tells you this and warns consumers that the site is more about sharing rather than getting free stuff.

The company says it wants to attract people who have a natural desire to share cool things, which should trump any desire you have to have a room full of free products.

So if you consider yourself a tastemaker, a trendsetter or just somebody who stays in the know about the next greatest thing, you might as well be rewarded and get a few consumer perks at the same time, but if you’re someone who casually post things on Facebook or Twitter and you don’t have any level of consistency in terms of how much you post or tweet, the site may not be for you.

Because since the site relies heavily on scores and points to deem people successful users, you should already be a big social media person, which believe it or not, a lot of people just aren't.

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