Learn Social Media by Example: Skittles Steals the Social Media Rainbow

Social Media Campaign Stat Box

: Skittles (Food Industry)

: Products and services

: http://www.skittles.com/

: Children and young adults.

: Innovation

Multi-Million Dollar and Experimenting

Often, the people who dare to experiment with client-facing channels are small, up-and-coming initiatives, or corporations that have “innovation” tied to their brand values (like Apple).

Meanwhile, when a brand like Skittles, that has been mostly the same for the past seemingly million years, dares to go all out with a rather insane experiment, there is a backlash.

At least, from the marketing side.

Backlash, shmacklash! What do marketers know anyway?

Skittles Social Media Use

Skittles Social Media Use

The Idea: Outsource the ENTIRE Website to Social Media Networks

And when I say “entire”, I really do mean “entire”.

Basically, Skittles tossed the traditional idea of how a website should be out the window, and created a corporate home by tying in together their presence on Social Media sites. Why waste bandwidth space and duplicate your videos when they’re already getting most of their views on YouTube anyway? Why pay so much money to get people to talk about your brand on your website’s forum when they’re already doing that on Twitter? Why push people to sign up for some lame “User’s Corner” when you already have most of your clients and potential clients on Facebook?

Skittles answered all these questions with another big “DUH!”, and went ahead and actually applied their answer. Their answer is so bold and so different that it feels like they’re mocking me, although I have nothing to do with anything, “HA! Everything you ever learned is wrong, and you’re being told this by your childhood candy-maker!”

Dumping their website, Skittles replaced it with a simple box that overlays over other relevant websites.

Skittles.com takes you directly to Facebook,  as well as their “Friends” tab:

Facebook is the Home of Skittles' Website

Facebook is the Home of Skittles' Website

“Chatter”, as to be expected, takes you a Twitter search page that searches “Skittles”.

"Chatter" is displayed on Twitter

"Chatter" is displayed on Twitter

Their corporate videos are stored on YouTube, while photos are showed as user’s “Skittles”-tagged photos on Flickr.

Videos are displayed on YouTube_skittles

Videos are displayed on YouTube_skittles

My favorite is their use of Wikipedia to display more about their products.

Products are displayed on Wikipedia

Products are displayed on Wikipedia

Buzz Generated: People Freaking Out Equals a Skittle-load of Buzzing

Facebook: 3,623,342 fans. That is a lot of fans. They also have a lot of comments on their Facebook videos, a lot of views, and a lot of likes. Their latest video has 7,421 likes, and 1,200 comments.
: Not as successful as Facebook obviously, with only 406,722 channel views.
Twitter: Skittles is mentioned  around once every 1.5 minutes on Twitter, if today is anything to monitor by.
Blogs: While I would have thought that bloggers would have embraced this campaign, Skittles was included in many “Worst Social Media Campaigns of 2009” lists.

In terms of numbers, I think this campaign has been quite successful. They might not realize it, but people are obviously participating. Look:

Skittles Facebbok Feedback

Skittles Facebbok Feedback

Skittles Twitter Feedback

Skittles Twitter Feedback

If you ask the marketers though, they’d probably tell you it was the worst. The buzz at the launch of the Skittles campaign was A LOT, though mostly negative, but almost a year on,  the people-generated content on these channels about Skittles is overwhelmingly positive. Like I said, marketers often know nothing.

Lessons Learned: The Point is to Get People Talking, Honey

While marketers might try to tell you that you really should over think everything, that this Skittles campaign sucked because of lack of control, that it’s just too risky for a corporation as big… Customers and Skittles-lovers are obviously participating.

A lot.

Perhaps they’re not directly aware of how they’re participating socially, but come on, you can’t argue that it’s much easier to add a comment when you’re as comfortable with the page as you are with Facebook. Especially when it’s something related to candy. I’m much more likely to exclaim “I LOVE SKITTLES!” on Facebook than I am on their website, because I’m used to these random exclamations of feelings on Facebook.

I love this idea.

  1. When people talk, other people start to want. Hell, I haven’t craved Skittles in well over ten years, and now I’m really wanting some red ones!
  2. Comfort-zones are powerful. People are comfortable with many of these Social Media sites, meaning that they’re more likely to participate and actively discuss things when they’re already on them.
  3. Pushing the envelope usually works. Even if the feedback is negative, you’ll still get tons of it. And that’s all it takes. You want people to talk about your brand. Proof of point:
Alexa traffic rankings for "Skittles.com"

Alexa traffic rankings for "Skittles.com"

The peak is insane, and there’s a consistent increase in traffic. Not that it matters… people will now probably be participating on the Skittles page through their Facebook fanpage or Twitter account. It’s outsourcing at its best.

: 3/5
: 1/5
: 5/5
: Yes
: 5/5

Comments and Reactions

10 responses to “Learn Social Media by Example: Skittles Steals the Social Media Rainbow”

  1. Beiruta says:

    Since I am one of the marketers who did not really appreciate this campaign :) I think you have made a great effort in convincing me otherwise!

    This is my rating now:

    The Meter: Virality: 1/5, Innovation: 3/5, Feels Like an Ad: 5/5, Brand Visibility: 5/5

  2. Richie says:

    Ha, made me laugh actually. Reduce your hosting fees and instead use all the existing free services online to show your stuff.
    It's actually an excellent point I think about people feeling much more comfortable commenting and participating in an environment they are already comfortable in, like facebook, youtube etc.

    On another note, what social networks is thoughtpick on?

  3. M.Bamieh says:

    This sounds more like a lazy web department than a campaign. Another thing they lost is their ability to push any message through their website which is invaluable.

  4. Roba says:

    Cool! I guess my job here is donE :)

  5. Roba says:

    But what message would they push through their website? Their brand is so strong, it's almost unnecessary.

  6. Roba says:

    LOL, you're right. Though I think Skittles can probably afford the hosting… :) We're on Twitter, Google Friend Connect, Reddit, and StumbleUpon.

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  10. […] feedback than it actually did. For one thing, the brand is Skittles and they have already achieved great social media successes before. Two, it is an interactive campaign so it should have been more attractive to Skittles […]

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