Skittles Social Media Experiment

As of 10pm PST Sunday, the folks over at Skittles have launched a very interesting experiment (I HAVE to imagine it's an experiment) in giving over nearly their entire web presence to a collection of social media websites.  Here's what we're seeing right now:

1)  The home page itself is solely a tracking of the trending buzz around the search term "skittles" on Twitter.  The small overlay navigation pane is the only Skittles-branded bit; everything else is Twitter.  Not surprisingly, some of the search results are not necessarily family-friendly.

Skittlehome

2)  Clicking on the "friends" link in the navigation pops to the Skittles Facebook page

Skittlefriends
 

3)  Clicking on Media|Photos brings up the Skittles Flickr Page

Skittlephoto

4)  Clicking on Media|Videos brings up the Skittles YouTube Page

Skittlevids

What this means:  This is a very interesting hybrid approach from Skittles with respect to engaging with their customers.  Some of the links (e.g. photos, videos, friends) still afford the expected level of "corporate control" over what is seen and viewed, as those links are going out to accounts that are managed by the Skittles brand.  However (and this is a big however), the connections out to the Twitter page — and the decision to make that the landing page for the initial customer experience — is a decision that is much more Wild West.  There's no telling what's going to show up on that home page.

In a perhaps counter-intuitive position, I think that giving over the entire homepage to the Twitter search for the brand has the possibility of actually decreasing customer engagement.  Why?  With the lack of any sort of way to address the signal/noise ratio on that page, actual customers who are looking for actual information about actual Skittles products are likely to be turned off (or at least frustrated) by the need to dig through pages of spam to find the relevant bits of information they were looking for.  That said, I think linking to the Twitter page is great and, once it's no longer the focus of the site, the lure of putting up novelty or spam items will wear off.

With a few tweaks (for example, not making the landing page the Twitter search results, but instead perhaps a slightly more predictable set of information), I think this is an approach we may see more of in the future.

9 thoughts on “Skittles Social Media Experiment

  1. It may well be more a publicity stunt — it is sure to generate tons of earned media. And certainly ‘skittles’ is trending like crazy on Twitter right now, even if most are people are using obscenities or otherwise posting with vanity in mind. But any publicity is good publicity, right?

  2. It will be interesting to see if this strategy will be reflected in any of Skittles traditional advertisements.

    I enjoy the product on occasion, but would have never been interested in visiting skittles.com or socializing with the brand online. Mine is the rainbow flavored interest shared by those involved in marketing. Nevertheless, a fresh bag of skittles is more likely to find its’ way into my shopping cart next time I visit Fred Meyers. The real test is how well this strategy hold water after the sugar and twitter buzz wears off.

  3. I agree about it decreasing customer engagement. Other than the novelty of checking out the page out of curiosity, there is WAY too much going on and I can’t imagine many people sticking around long enough to actually search for company-created information.

    I’d be willing to bet that this will be a short-lived experiment once Skittles tracks the bounce rate over the next month or two. If it even lasts that long.

    Or maybe I’ll be wrong and eventually every website will go to this model!

  4. Wow…has it come down to too many people with too little to do with their lives?

    Who, in their right mind, would search Twitter for Skittles? Why would anyone go Facebook, YouTube or Flickr in order to search for Skittles?

    Does Skittles generate any revenue by having us do the above? Is Skittles in the business of generating pointless web traffic versus profitable revenue?

    God, some people get so distracted by the shiny object of new technology and they forget that it takes profitable revenue to pay their salary and keep them employed.

  5. Skittles is past the point of needing to educate the populous on their product. They are creating buzz. Was subservient chicken a success – you bet, and it cost a lot more than this marketing campaign.

  6. I feel that Skittles is less “distracted” by shiny new technologies and more “in tune” with new communication strategies and technics.

    Businesses and individuals continue to underestimate this new and upcoming form of communication. This is no longer just a hobby for jr. high and high school students, but an innovative new tool for the business world. It is being used currently, by companies other than Skittles, to actually generate busines and publicity. For example, President Obama used social media as a large part of his campaign strategy and look where that got him.

    I am not suggesting that there are no disadvantages of the implementation of social media. There continue to be problems with the lack of company control and confidentiality. But does this outweight the amount of gained credbibility? I don’t know but I think Skittles is definitly onto something here.

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