Skittles new website is NOT social media…or is it?

March 3, 2009


The new Skittles.com site

The new Skittles.com site



The M&M Mars colorful fruit candy chews have gotten a social media makeover to their website. It is drawing many oohs and aahs from the crowds that click over to this site to find a very slick transparent overlay with a navigation widget that is laid on top of their social media sites, including a www.summize.com  page keyword searching “skittles” (Seen in the photo).


You can also click over to the other platforms where they have accounts as well – Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook.  There is also a quick insert your age here survey (where they are apparently gathering demographic info).  It has gotten many of the so-called social media gurus all up in a tizzy though, as it is a very slick implementation of technology, without an apparent “social media strategy” attached to it.

So, what’s the deal?  Who’s right? Well, to be honest, it’s a lot of both.

Let’s talk about what they did right:

1.       The advertising & PR garnered from the word of mouth from incorporating their social media platform accounts is off the charts as far as ROI is concerned.  The cost of such a website as this, by rough estimates, could be pulled together for 5 to 30K (incredibly cheaper than the cost for the media buys they would have had to have done, and not gotten the benefit of so much traffic).

2.       The SEO benefit is again off the charts successful for the ROI and benefit.  The amount of mentions online they are receiving as well as the back-linking happening from those of us that are posting on blogs, writing stories, tweeting, etc. about their new site.

3.       Ability to track – not having access to their analytics, so not knowing for sure, but there is the potential for incredible results from tracking clicks. Even more potent than the collecting of age information (which I’ll get into later).

4.       Word of mouth and instigation of online conversations – the level of buzz generated, and word of mouth have quickly spread this virally to an internet sensation.  The opportunities to allow for their audience to discuss, socialize, and talk about their brand (glowingly or otherwise) is also incredibly done.

5.       Trusted in their brand enough to release control of it to the world.  It took guts, and I’m guessing some people are still sweating it to allow people to wreak havoc by saying whatever they want and attaching the word “skittles” to it (my personal favorite was one that said Skittles are actually unicorn poop!).  Watch for a potential removal of the overlay to the www.summize.com page with the live stream soon (my prediction).

Now here’s where they failed, or missed the mark:

1.       Failure to participate in the conversation.  Yes Skittles fostered conversation about their product and brand, but as many others have already pointed out, neither Skittles, nor M & M Mars is participating in the conversations on Twitter.  They do not own or manage the @skittles or @skittlescandy accounts.  When you are not participating in the conversation, you have zero chance to impact it.  What if the conversation is skewing negatively or there are legitimate complaints being made (and not just the graffiti-like profanity tweeted out just so they could see it on Summize)? You as the business have no control, say, or opportunity to provide customer service on these platforms.  Comcast with their @comcastcares account on Twitter, is an example of how to do this right.

2.       Capturing the wrong data.  It might be interesting to see what the age group of the people coming to the Skittles site is.  The problem is, that the visitor to the site does not necessarily equate to a consumer of the candy.  The data they have collected seems to be fairly diluted, especially with the amount of marketers and online gurus that have been checking it out, without ever intending to purchase the candy. 

3.       As a professional at a PR/Marketing agency that has worked with several candy clients, it has become crystal clear (to me), that candy is typically an impulse buy and not something that is purchased online, as there is a lag time for shipping, etc. Skittles would have been better served to offer a downloadable coupon for a free package of the candy redeemable from their local store, where the opportunity to purchase an additional bag or two, could occur. Personally, (and this is my big idea) I would have partnered with the braintrust that runs Twitter and came out with a collector’s edition package of Twittles! (I want credit for this, and a free case or two) there would be a run on the stores by the Twitterati.

4.       Trusting an Ad Agency/Web Design firm without actual experience in conducting social media campaigns with a social media campaign.  It is clear by the misses, that their firm (agency.com) came at this with the old-school traditional advertising mentality where this was a cool broadcast out to the world. The fact they failed to get the company to engage with their audience.  While it is always good to want to engage in social media, make sure you are dealing with someone that has already built and executed campaigns.  There are too many “social media experts” shilling themselves today, that are foisting about the buzzwords without any experience to back it up.

5.       Failure to monitor the conversations about their brand online. I don’t know this for sure, but I will deduce that if they aren’t interested in participating in the conversations, that they really aren’t interested in monitoring what is being said as well.  This also goes to managing your online reputation, where if you aren’t watching what people are saying, you have no true measure of your brand’s performance.  The conversations are happening, will you be a part of it?

So now I open it up to you.  What are your thoughts on Skittles new website?  Is it social media – or NOT? Comment away…



  1. I found the skittles nice cool but a little annoying.
    – I had to enter my birthdate but then got the pop up flash window
    – when reentering the site had to enter bdate again
    – The accept terms is not working as you cannot click on it
    – On the tabs where there should be a drop down for sub categories like “media” it does not drop down. Could be a firefox thing.

    What you wrote though was excellent. They are a leader and innovator and it could change online marketing as we know it in the short term.

  2. Excellent analysis! Thank you for demystifying all this. I’ll admit I didn’t understand all the issues until now.

    I agree with your take of both the pros and cons of the campaign. Showing there is a conversation taking place but almost going out of their way to not participate in it is rather ironic. Also quite a tip of the hand in terms of their motives. They don’t get it. It’s clear to me that they see social media as just another flavor of traditional media.

    For all the flashy “technology” in play here, this is just the same detached way you’d brag about customers talking about your product via traditional media. Without genuine engagement I think it will prove just as ineffective.

  3. […] thing. Always remember to comprise the real idea of your life, when you start to experience Skittles new website is NOT social media…or is it? – abovethebuzz.wordpress.com 03/04/2009 The new Skittles.com site  The M&M Mars colorful […]

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