Via Mashable this morning, I found out that Skittles changed its homepage. Now, normally this wouldn't be news, no more than launching a new site. But here's the kicker, they changed their homepage to a Twitter stream about Skittles.
Now, at first glance this may seem really neat, but let's dig underneath the surface here a bit.
- Does Skittles control the @Skittles account? Nope!
- Does Skittles actively participate in discussions on Twitter? Nope!
- Does Mars, Inc., its parent company participate on Twitter? Nope!
Now on the surface, this may seem really cool and hip, using this new trendy service Twitter, in an unusual way. Heck it's having word of mouth effects - people are talking about this. Unfortunately in due time this could turn around and create a big PR problem for Skittles & Mars, Inc..
They are just pulling up a stream on Twitter that references people using the word "Skittles" in their tweets. This leaves the company's home page ripe for Twitter spamming, and worse, for people to make a mockery of the Skittles brand. In due time this could create a nightmare for Mars, Inc, if people continue to take advantage that their tweets are now on display for a national audience.
For example, take a look at what I caught on this screen capture below (my apologies if this offends anyone, please be forewarned there are offensive words in this screen capture, that is not my intent and that tweet does not reflect my own feelings), or this tweet that appeared as well (again, can be offensive to some).
Skittles doesn't even offer anything into the conversation. Twitter users know that twitter is about discussions. They don't even have a Twitter account to hold a conversation - at this juncture in time. If they did, I'm hard press to find it - and they aren't advertising it.
This isn't social media folks, seriously, 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, much like @Maggiano's is or @WholeFoods or @Zappos. What skittles has done has gotten other people to talk about Skittles, at this point in time early in the convo they haven't spoken, so it's all one sided. Social Media requires a conversation (them talking with people), this, is just basically an electronic billboard on the web that says "look who using the word Skittles!"
Its a unique billboard I give them that, but that's about it.
One last point, Mars, Inc. should think about, too. Twitter, on a good day, can't handle the traffic it has reliably (it's getting better), so Skittles will be at the mercy of Twitter for its exposure. I don't know if I'd want to bank my brand's exposure on it like this.