Reminds me I need to get some new moo cards done for the disposable memory project, which, by the way, is going great guns – 60 cameras released, 2 returned, 2 on their way home, and lots of wonderful stories.
So, my thoughts on the new skittles.com.
From a technology perspective, its a VERY cheap way of aggregating your content or spaces in which your content exists. They’ve provided a navigation tool to show you around their activity in social spaces (flickr, facebook, youtube) as well as other people activity or conversations around skittles (twitter search).
The stand out piece is the twitter element – they’ve effectively just put a navigation on top of search.twitter.com for the keyword ‘skittles’. In doing this, they show you any conversation with the word skittles that appears on twitter.
Now, when people started noticing this, they posted the word skittles and upon seeing their tweet appear, realisation that you could subvert the channel to make anti-skittle sentiment, or just down right nasty commenting (http://twitter.com/alexjohnwood/statuses/1269197448 for instance, NSFW), appear in a pseudo-endorsed way, this delighted/angered people in equal measure.
Of course, there is no way of moderating this conversation, and already other memes (skittlefisting for instance) have sprung up. The network effect of people talking about skittles made the word ‘skittles’ start trending, and the growth became exponential, through a wonderful form of social feedback. The more people get annoyed/excited about it, the more people see it and do the same.
Skittles have made an interesting, brave play. On the one hand, they have first mover advantage. Whilst I’ve seen this ‘navigate over sites’ technique before (I seem to remember an agency who basically just showed you their wikipedia page, of course again ripe for editing), anyone who does something similar to this in the future will immediately be compared to (or worse, accused of stealing from) Skittles – never can this be done again in this direct model (at least until someone work out a spin on the concept). On the other hand the team at skittles must have known that it would have generated derision and swearing as well as just ‘general chit chat’ about skittles. Fortunately, the massive negative commentary will eventually subside, as people forget about the site, and generally people mentioning skittles in conversation will fall back to its normal non-influenced form, but by then, the site will have been seen by many, and its novelty/concept might have worn off.
It has, without doubt, brought Skittles to the front of many people’s minds though, and this is clearly at the heart of advertising – creating a spark of thought about a brand. Those who hate the idea of what Skittles have done are unlikely to specifically stop buying Skittles as a result. Those who haven’t had Skittles in the past few years might in the next couple of weeks be in a shop and think ‘Ooh Skittles, I just fancy some’, as a dormant memory of eating them in the past has been fattened by this activity. In rare cases, someone might even run out and buy bags and bags of the sugary beans right now.
In any case, it has already created gigabytes of conversation on blogs and twitter itself. I pretty much reckon we’ll be talking about it as an industry for a few more months yet too.
So, is it successful? Good? Rubbish?
Maybe only Skittles/Mars can answer that regarding their own commerical objectives for the project.
I’d imagine that a major KPI of the site would be to generate content and conversation.
Update: I didn’t really write any personal opinion about the site, nor from a user’s perspective. Personally, I think the idea is quite simple and throwaway, and created a great deal of buzz – which in itself is excellent, however, did they create any social value for their users? No, probably not. But I’d also say it wasn’t a social media strategy – it was simply leveraging existing chatter channels about the brand, it is really a campaign idea, not a long term position on social media or interaction with their users. It isn’t interaction, its open backchannel broadcasting, its having a forum on your website, but not paying attention to it (nor moderating it). It falls short of really engaging WITH an audience, it is just making use OF an audience, hence missing the point of social media, but again, it comes back down to their objectives. If they wanted to engage their audience, they’ve missed a trick, but if it was about creating press and conversation – they’ve absolutely done wonders.
With my commercial hat on: Bravo!
With my user hat on: Eh?