One way to get people talking about your products is to start the conversation yourself. Then, just sit back and listen.
That’s what consumer goods giant, Procter & Gamble, did with their mother-driven community space, Vocalpoint. Vocalpoint provides product discussions and lifestyle advice for thousands of women and homemakers- the target user of most of P&G’s products. The site frequently offers free samples and coupons for P&G products (e.g. Tide to Go Instant Stain Remover ) as well as other partnering companies. In return, users weigh in on the products and share experiences with their friends, family, and other Vocalpoint members.
P&G’s role is limited, and somewhat veiled, but they gain more as a fly on the wall than as an active participant. Instead of spending a fortune to track perspectives on each brand, now they have a vehicle that can be used to track attitudes and perspectives across categories and brands.
The real take-away here is how easy it is to utilize web-based, community tools to create a virtual panel (PDF) to gain insight and drive word of mouth. Much of Vocalpoint’s success lies outside the site, as “connectors” (social butterflies, who are likely to share product information and make recommendations) spread the word. Of course, the free samples don’t hurt either.