You already know that social media is a great tool for businesses who want to get their message out. Now some companies are using it to get their products into the hands of consumers.
Mamamia recently launched an advertising package that involves “a competition for readers to win your product or service.” Coincidently—or not—the site has also initiated a members-only feature called ‘The Opinionator’, which allows members to sign up to receive and review samples.
And Klout, a social media site that caters to people who have the “ability to drive action”, provides ‘perks’, or free samples, to some members. Only members with enough ‘klout’ can register, which means that samples are received by the people most likely to influence others.
Nuffnang, a social media site that serves the blogging community, recently initiated ‘Product Talk Opportunities’, which allow bloggers to sample products and review them on their blogs. Nuffnang promotes the idea that ‘Product Talk’ will help bloggers build ‘relationships with brands’, which leads to speculation that most reviews will be positive.
Sampling through social media isn’t an established practice yet, and most current sampling only allows consumers to freebies for themselves. Kleenex Corporation went a different way in their recent—very successful—program that allowed people to send samples to friends and family. Participants were given a chance to sign up either at Kleenex.com or at retailers across the country; as a result, 1 million mini-boxes of Kleenex were sampled, and the company’s share rose 3.9 points!
It’s obvious that social media sampling can put a great product into the hands of influential people who will review it and promote it via word-of-mouth. And it’s obvious that some companies have increased their profits by sampling. The up-side is easy to see; but is there a down-side?
Many companies are afraid that social media could provide a forum for negative feedback for their brand. They felt comfortable with old models that allowed the advertiser to control all aspects of public perception; but social media quickly puts the control into the hands of the consumer. Some companies don’t understand how to generate positive feedback—or how to respond positively to negative feedback. If they don’t have control, they won’t take a risk–
But they ignore the fact that other companies have taken that risk, and have profited from it.