Mindbubble.co.uk has been created to get women aged between 25 and 50 years old to participate in brand and product research, providing a textbook example of a way that social media techniques can be used by big business.

Users create a private profile and are invited to participate in various projects for which they receive cash payments.

Created by agency Face, the site has been used by Unilever to engage with its female target market.

The projects will involve participants completing tasks such as blogging, forums, polls and diaries within a time limit.

If the money isn’t enough to tempt users to the site, Mindbubble.co.uk says users will be asked to help come up with the next big thing in fabric conditioner, or devise a marketing strategy for a future make-up range.

The result should be that Unilever gets access to a mine of constructive criticism and fresh ideas that benefit its product and marketing teams, rather than a meaningless raft of basic market research telling it that customers don’t like a brand or product.