Remember P&G's Tremor teens program?  I discussed it rather extensively in Connecting With Consumers.  As the forerunner to P&G's ongoing Vocalpoint campaign with US mothers, Tremor involved the recruiting of nearly 300,000 US teen "connectors" (respondents to an online questionnaire who had an average of 170 names in their address books).  Tremor provided these influentials with free samples, CDs, movie passes, and so on, in exchange for feedback and the opportunity to have them lend an air of cool to the products and recommend them to their friends.

So why am I talking about Tremor teens in the past tense?  As I've recently learned from Nina, a member of the Vocalpoint team, they grew up.  I contacted the Vocalpoint team directly when my online search to see what was happening with the teen program came up empty.  Nina explained via email: 

School, sports, clubs and other activities are keeping teens busier than ever before.  We don't want to compete with these priorities, so Tremor stopped recruiting teen panel members a while ago and now our teens have become young adults with other interests. 

I don't know Nina personally, so there is no reason I shouldn't take these comments at face value, but I can't help feeling that there is a hidden message here, as in 'parents and school officials were complaining that Tremor's free gifts and not so subtle efforts to influence peers had become the central preoccupation of kids' lives, serving as too much of a distraction from school, establishment extracurricular activities, and family responsibilities.'  I mean, if the program was such a success--and all indications are that it was--and your participants have aged from teenagers to young adults, wouldn't you simply keep recruiting new teen participants?  According to a 2010 Common Sense analysis few parents are aware of the extent of their children's daily time spent on social networks, as described in The New York Times article below.  Perhaps Tremor was just too obtrusive to parents and school marms who viewed the program as a manipulative tool to lure teens to serve as company spokespersons.

Vocalpoint, however, is alive and well.  After all, while moms can complain about their kids being exploited as social marketing tools, when it comes to moms receiving free products and coupons themselves, who is going to complain - Dad?  As I discussed in my book, Vocalpoint is a marketing group powered by P&G that recruits influential mothers to assist companies in developing and testing new product ideas and marketing programs that women care about and want to talk about.  Or, as Nina explained,

Vocalpoint works with companies in industries that include consumer products, entertainment, fashion, music, food, and beauty.  We get our members directly involved in the creation and launch of these companies' ideas and programs.  We collect feedback and generate valuable knowledge and insight for our clients through surveys, product sampling and previews of new products and marketing ideas, while building word of mouth among women around the US.

Since in its 2006 inception, Vocalpoint has recruited several hundred thousand US moms into the program, which today represents an enormously effective mechanism for P&G to obtain product-related feedback from women (aged 28 to 45 with children aged 19 or under) and to get them talking.  From the Vocalpoint website, here are the nuts and bolts: