Let’s face it, some of the purchases we make are just not as exciting as others. There are some products we just have to buy each week and we don’t really think about them too much unless we run out. By virtue that they are so commonplace that in some cases they are true commodities.

So when it comes to these products, can social media be used as a differentiator? And if so how?

Take toilet paper as an example. Would anybody want to talk about toilet paper in social media? Well it turns out they would. Take Proctor & Gamble’s (P&G) toilet paper brand Charmin – a couple of years ago they sponsored an iPhone app called SitorSquat.

With the interesting strap line “Enjoy the Go”, the SitorSquat app allows you to find, rate, comment on or add in the location of a clean public toilet. First launched in the USA, the app is now available worldwide and over 100,000 toilets have been rated.

The app also allows users to filter the search by toilets with changing facilities, helping to target family-oriented shoppers that are often the key to success for everyday FMCG products.

What’s clever about this app is the way it encourages the spread of useful but otherwise mundane information through social media. Charmin has facilitated people to share with the primary intent of having a better bathroom experience (and with the secondary intent that you will recall Charmin toilet paper as you enter the toilet tissue aisle or order your weekly shopping online).

Charmin has also managed to integrate the online world with the offline world through their recent Christmas campaign Queen of the Charmin Go nation.

During the Christmas period Charmin rented out an office space to ensure that New Yorkers had clean, safe facilities to “enjoy the go”. They also hosted a competition, judged by Glee actress Jane Lynch, where the winner was crowned “Queen of the throne” and given a prize of $50,000.  Using a popular celebrity, offering a large prize and enabling the general public to avoid using the often horrendous public toilets in New York  is a great way of spreading positive word-of-mouth about a brand.

Over the next few weeks we’re going to look at some of the every day products we buy, and the brands behind them, in order to see how they are leveraging social media. Our feeling is that the number of brands regularly using social media, either as part of an integrated campaign or as an ongoing online engagement strategy will increase dramatically in 2011.