Kat French

Kat French

Monday the social media fishbowl was bubbling over the new “website” for Skittles, the fruity candy.

Instead of an actual website, Skittles has what appears to be a persistent widget that connects you to Skittles digital presence on several difference social media sites.  

I  say “appears to be a persistent widget” because it’s not technically a widget.  Widgets are portable–this isn’t.  The “navigation” for the new Skittles site has a widget-y look about it, though.  

The “home page” is the Facebook fan page for Skittles.  “Chatter” takes you to a Twitter search for references to “skittles” (which was promptly highjacked).  The Products pages take you to Wikipedia entries.  

There are a lot of dissenting opinions about this move as a marketing and advertising strategy.  Li Evans of Search Marketing Gurus feels that it’s a clear sign that Skittles just doesn’t get social media.  Aside from the clear invitation to spam the Twitter stream, Li feels that it isn’t really a social media campaign.

“…for it to be social media, Skittles has to be engaging in the conversation, and they aren’t. If they were truly into social media, they’d have a Twitter account, engage in the conversation…”

Other folks feel that for some brands, participating directly in the conversation doesn’t necessarily make sense.  Do you really want your candy talking to you, or do you want to talk to other folks who are craving a sugar fix?  

To be honest, I could see that working for a brand that had more daily ritual connotations.  For example a Starbucks or a Dunkin Donuts.  I don’t know too many people who go for a daily Skittles run.  Although after all that conversation about it, I was certainly craving some Tropical Fruit candy.  

Mack Collier of Viral Garden was hoping that this was just the opening gambit in a more fully-fleshed out social media campaign.  

From an SEO standpoint, it’s kind of a train wreck.  The site consists of an iframe with almost no independent content (which is what creates the illusion of a persistent widget.)  Technically, you’re not actually visiting Facebook or Twitter or Wikipedia.  You’re asking Skittles’ website to pull that site’s content into an iframe.    Although they’ll probably get at least a temporary boost from the sudden influx of traffic and links, and SEO is probably not a terribly high concern for them.  

So what do you think?  Genius or madness?  Short-sighted stunt, or the opening pitch in a longer game plan?  The comments are yours.

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About Kat French

Kat French

Kat French is the Digital Operations Manager at CafePress. An exceptional writer both on the web and in other genres, Kat combines creativity with an agile, get-it-done attitude across a broad range of experience in community management, SEO/PPC, social media strategy and program management. She has worked with national brands like Maker's Mark, Daytona Beach Tourism, Optima Batteries and more.

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Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • mrhames

    Why would Skittles need a website? Or SEO? Do people who are looking for a snack really type “what should I snack?” into google and expect the website Skittles to deliver the answer?

    Impulse purchases need to think of different ways to get attention online. Websites aren't it. For a long time, we did websites because we had to. A marketing tool one has to do? Crazy.

    As people test the idea of a digital presence, they should look at individuals for inspiration. Think about the digital presence of a Jason Falls. Can a brand replicate that? I think so, with some obvious differences.

    I've been trying to get one of my clients to incorporate a digital presence, and kill their website. it wasn't going to be executed like this, but in essence, it will be this.

    • KatFrench

      I agree that SEO probably isn't a high priority for them. But I wanted to put the caveat out there in case someone who DOES need search to get their business found was thinking of imitating them.

      (Especially since they're already imitating someone else. **cough**Modernista**cough**)

    • Steve Cerruti

      Yes, I can see a candy brand needing to worry about SEO and maintaining a website. Take M&M's, they use the web to extend their brand via information about their racing team, through recipes, products that are seasonal and not readily available and to support their ecommerce effort. The website build brand loyalty by having games which can easily be exported into social networks.

      I can easily see M&M extending their brand into social networks, especially since they have already created highly recognizable personalities to front their brand.

      Just because Skittles did a half hearted job doesn't mean it isn't a good idea.

  • mrhames

    Why would Skittles need a website? Or SEO? Do people who are looking for a snack really type “what should I snack?” into google and expect the website Skittles to deliver the answer?

    Impulse purchases need to think of different ways to get attention online. Websites aren't it. For a long time, we did websites because we had to. A marketing tool one has to do? Crazy.

    As people test the idea of a digital presence, they should look at individuals for inspiration. Think about the digital presence of a Jason Falls. Can a brand replicate that? I think so, with some obvious differences.

    I've been trying to get one of my clients to incorporate a digital presence, and kill their website. it wasn't going to be executed like this, but in essence, it will be this.

  • mrhames

    Why would Skittles need a website? Or SEO? Do people who are looking for a snack really type “what should I snack?” into google and expect the website Skittles to deliver the answer?

    Impulse purchases need to think of different ways to get attention online. Websites aren't it. For a long time, we did websites because we had to. A marketing tool one has to do? Crazy.

    As people test the idea of a digital presence, they should look at individuals for inspiration. Think about the digital presence of a Jason Falls. Can a brand replicate that? I think so, with some obvious differences.

    I've been trying to get one of my clients to incorporate a digital presence, and kill their website. it wasn't going to be executed like this, but in essence, it will be this.

  • KatFrench

    I agree that SEO probably isn't a high priority for them. But I wanted to put the caveat out there in case someone who DOES need search to get their business found was thinking of imitating them.

    (Especially since they're already imitating someone else. **cough**Modernista**cough**)

  • KatFrench

    I agree that SEO probably isn't a high priority for them. But I wanted to put the caveat out there in case someone who DOES need search to get their business found was thinking of imitating them.

    (Especially since they're already imitating someone else. **cough**Modernista**cough**)

  • Steve Cerruti

    Yes, I can see a candy brand needing to worry about SEO and maintaining a website. Take M&M's, they use the web to extend their brand via information about their racing team, through recipes, products that are seasonal and not readily available and to support their ecommerce effort. The website build brand loyalty by having games which can easily be exported into social networks.

    I can easily see M&M extending their brand into social networks, especially since they have already created highly recognizable personalities to front their brand.

    Just because Skittles did a half hearted job doesn't mean it isn't a good idea.

  • Steve Cerruti

    Yes, I can see a candy brand needing to worry about SEO and maintaining a website. Take M&M's, they use the web to extend their brand via information about their racing team, through recipes, products that are seasonal and not readily available and to support their ecommerce effort. The website build brand loyalty by having games which can easily be exported into social networks.

    I can easily see M&M extending their brand into social networks, especially since they have already created highly recognizable personalities to front their brand.

    Just because Skittles did a half hearted job doesn't mean it isn't a good idea.

  • http://aaronhughling.com Aaron

    I think it's fine for a short-sided stunt as you say. But eventually a website that tells the story of Skittles still needs to exist.

    • KatFrench

      Is there a “story of Skittles”? Maybe there is, but I'm not sure knowing it would make me more predisposed to eating them.

  • http://aaronhughling.com Aaron

    I think it's fine for a short-sided stunt as you say. But eventually a website that tells the story of Skittles still needs to exist.

  • http://aaronhughling.com ahughling

    I think it's fine for a short-sided stunt as you say. But eventually a website that tells the story of Skittles still needs to exist.

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  • http://snforassociationprofessionals.ning.com/ Lynn Morton

    I think the issue with their efforts is that they aren't building community, they are just pointing to communities. I don't see them offering value per say and I agree with the comment about who wants their candy talking at them?

    In this instance, I wish they would take notes from Fiskars. Not exactly a sexy brand in general, but they created a community around scrapbooking, completely related to their product without it being ABOUT their product. That's the big difference, what Skittles is doing is making it about THEM instead of about the community!

    • KatFrench

      I like your Fiskars example, but I'm struggling to figure out what would be something related to Skittles that isn't Skittles, that would be a focus for a community. Sugar addiction doesn't seem like a very good fit…

      I'm still trying to puzzle this out. My biggest complaint is that even if the whole idea is just to get attention and buzz (which, as Matt pointed out, for an impulse purchase is probably as good as it's going to get), it's got a lifespan for that of maybe a week.

  • http://snforassociationprofessionals.ning.com/ Lynn Morton

    I think the issue with their efforts is that they aren't building community, they are just pointing to communities. I don't see them offering value per say and I agree with the comment about who wants their candy talking at them?

    In this instance, I wish they would take notes from Fiskars. Not exactly a sexy brand in general, but they created a community around scrapbooking, completely related to their product without it being ABOUT their product. That's the big difference, what Skittles is doing is making it about THEM instead of about the community!

  • http://snforassociationprofessionals.ning.com/ Lynn Morton

    I think the issue with their efforts is that they aren't building community, they are just pointing to communities. I don't see them offering value per say and I agree with the comment about who wants their candy talking at them?

    In this instance, I wish they would take notes from Fiskars. Not exactly a sexy brand in general, but they created a community around scrapbooking, completely related to their product without it being ABOUT their product. That's the big difference, what Skittles is doing is making it about THEM instead of about the community!

  • http://blogbuildingu.com Hendry Lee

    From the buzz it generates, certainly it is successful. Right now I see a Wikipedia entry for Skittles in an iframe.

    I admit it is a unique idea. Rather than links to social media presence, they just displayed a page and create a navigational widget. That really caught my eyes. Just look at the number of Diggs.

    But the fact that turn it into their sole web presence I think is a mistake. I agree with you that they lose opportunities in SEO and others. I think there is still value in a web site because it is static.

    Also agree that they need to engage with social media instead of just showcasing it. Overall as an independent site, I like the idea of aggregating content in a place for people to see. I think many other businesses will start using the idea in some ways because not every site allows easy access of content via API yet.

    Moreover, we are already too familiar with Wikipedia, Flickr, Twitter, etc., so we know immediately which content we are looking at.

    • KatFrench

      I don't know how they'd effectively engage with social media, but I do think one issue I have with the whole thing is that it seems very passive for a brand whose other advertising projects an attitude that is sort of in-your-face.

  • http://blogbuildingu.com Hendry Lee

    From the buzz it generates, certainly it is successful. Right now I see a Wikipedia entry for Skittles in an iframe.

    I admit it is a unique idea. Rather than links to social media presence, they just displayed a page and create a navigational widget. That really caught my eyes. Just look at the number of Diggs.

    But the fact that turn it into their sole web presence I think is a mistake. I agree with you that they lose opportunities in SEO and others. I think there is still value in a web site because it is static.

    Also agree that they need to engage with social media instead of just showcasing it. Overall as an independent site, I like the idea of aggregating content in a place for people to see. I think many other businesses will start using the idea in some ways because not every site allows easy access of content via API yet.

    Moreover, we are already too familiar with Wikipedia, Flickr, Twitter, etc., so we know immediately which content we are looking at.

  • http://blogbuildingu.com Hendry Lee

    From the buzz it generates, certainly it is successful. Right now I see a Wikipedia entry for Skittles in an iframe.

    I admit it is a unique idea. Rather than links to social media presence, they just displayed a page and create a navigational widget. That really caught my eyes. Just look at the number of Diggs.

    But the fact that turn it into their sole web presence I think is a mistake. I agree with you that they lose opportunities in SEO and others. I think there is still value in a web site because it is static.

    Also agree that they need to engage with social media instead of just showcasing it. Overall as an independent site, I like the idea of aggregating content in a place for people to see. I think many other businesses will start using the idea in some ways because not every site allows easy access of content via API yet.

    Moreover, we are already too familiar with Wikipedia, Flickr, Twitter, etc., so we know immediately which content we are looking at.

  • KatFrench

    Is there a “story of Skittles”? Maybe there is, but I'm not sure knowing it would make me more predisposed to eating them.

  • KatFrench

    Is there a “story of Skittles”? Maybe there is, but I'm not sure knowing it would make me more predisposed to eating them.

  • KatFrench

    I like your Fiskars example, but I'm struggling to figure out what would be something related to Skittles that isn't Skittles, that would be a focus for a community. Sugar addiction doesn't seem like a very good fit…

    I'm still trying to puzzle this out. My biggest complaint is that even if the whole idea is just to get attention and buzz (which, as Matt pointed out, for an impulse purchase is probably as good as it's going to get), it's got a lifespan for that of maybe a week.

  • KatFrench

    I like your Fiskars example, but I'm struggling to figure out what would be something related to Skittles that isn't Skittles, that would be a focus for a community. Sugar addiction doesn't seem like a very good fit…

    I'm still trying to puzzle this out. My biggest complaint is that even if the whole idea is just to get attention and buzz (which, as Matt pointed out, for an impulse purchase is probably as good as it's going to get), it's got a lifespan for that of maybe a week.

  • KatFrench

    I don't know how they'd effectively engage with social media, but I do think one issue I have with the whole thing is that it seems very passive for a brand whose other advertising projects an attitude that is sort of in-your-face.

  • KatFrench

    I don't know how they'd effectively engage with social media, but I do think one issue I have with the whole thing is that it seems very passive for a brand whose other advertising projects an attitude that is sort of in-your-face.

  • Rami

    I think it's horrible. Looks like they took the easy way out of doing any work to further the connection to the identity of the brand to the consumer. There are other ways to integrate with social media platforms and still be unique to the brand. First the Tropicana re-branding and now this? Are we getting that lazy?!?

  • Rami

    I think it's horrible. Looks like they took the easy way out of doing any work to further the connection to the identity of the brand to the consumer. There are other ways to integrate with social media platforms and still be unique to the brand. First the Tropicana re-branding and now this? Are we getting that lazy?!?

  • Rami

    I think it's horrible. Looks like they took the easy way out of doing any work to further the connection to the identity of the brand to the consumer. There are other ways to integrate with social media platforms and still be unique to the brand. First the Tropicana re-branding and now this? Are we getting that lazy?!?

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  • http://thethinktank.kintera.org frank barry

    The new Skittles site may not work for everyone. It may not even be the best thing for Mars, but I give them credit for being bold and trying something totally new.

    I talk about it some here – Skittles and Your Nonprofit

    I get that it is bad for SEO and that they may not be involved in the conversation, but its genius from a user generated content standpoint. The world is building their site for them. Now they just need to keep producing a product and services that people will say good things about!

    http://twitter.com/franswaa

  • http://www.netwitsthinktank.com frank barry

    The new Skittles site may not work for everyone. It may not even be the best thing for Mars, but I give them credit for being bold and trying something totally new.

    I talk about it some here – Skittles and Your Nonprofit

    I get that it is bad for SEO and that they may not be involved in the conversation, but its genius from a user generated content standpoint. The world is building their site for them. Now they just need to keep producing a product and services that people will say good things about!

    http://twitter.com/franswaa

  • http://www.netwitsthinktank.com frank barry

    The new Skittles site may not work for everyone. It may not even be the best thing for Mars, but I give them credit for being bold and trying something totally new.

    I talk about it some here – Skittles and Your Nonprofit

    I get that it is bad for SEO and that they may not be involved in the conversation, but its genius from a user generated content standpoint. The world is building their site for them. Now they just need to keep producing a product and services that people will say good things about!

    http://twitter.com/franswaa

  • http://www.netwitsthinktank.com frank barry

    The new Skittles site may not work for everyone. It may not even be the best thing for Mars, but I give them credit for being bold and trying something totally new.

    I talk about it some here – Skittles and Your Nonprofit

    I get that it is bad for SEO and that they may not be involved in the conversation, but its genius from a user generated content standpoint. The world is building their site for them. Now they just need to keep producing a product and services that people will say good things about!

    http://twitter.com/franswaa

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  • Pigpen0151

    My skittle has a heart. Yes a heart shaped skittle in my bag of yummy skittles.