Social Media: Whither Skittles? Twitter Scramble Mangles Message

So how about that Twitter eh? The kids – they love it! You know, the youth, as personified by Barbra Walters who yammered about the microblogging site on her show The View today or the inimitable Rick Sanchez, CNN’s Ted Baxter manqué.  Even venerable inside Washington comic strip Doonesbury is getting in on the action.

Skittles wants in on this hipness and they are getting a leg up with the help of agency Modernista. You might remember Modernista from such campaigns as the one in which they dismantled their own website and sent curious web-users to Flickr, Facebook, and other social media properties in its stead.

The result is that the Skittles homepage is now a constantly refreshing feed (pun slightly intended) of Skittles mentions on Twitter. Brilliant! And by brilliant we of course mean utter failure.

Your SEO is MIA

The most obvious thing they’ve done is to blow up all of their old site architecture and SEO. This is generally A Bad Idea. Google still shows links to all kinds of places that when clicked on today didn’t even re-direct. They just dead-end to a broken link. These site links will all disappear in a few weeks, the pages indexed will go down, and theoretically their organic search performance will suffer.


Now from the Skittles perspective this may in fact be no big whoop. A glance at the data from shows that they haven’t been getting much traffic anyhow. After all, this is product that doesn’t necessarily require a website to purchase or even to point users to a retail outlet.  The website functions for the most part as an online billboard.


In light of this, the Twitter switcheroo isn’t all that radical – it’s an el- cheapo way to refresh their billboard content on a site that traditionally doesn’t call for much in the way of click-throughs or follow-ups. The publicity they got from this stunt will probably net them more traffic than they’ve had all of last year. When you are measuring the performance of a traditional billboard, all that counts is eyeballs.

Muting Your Own Horn

Yet this in itself illustrates the massive lost opportunity for Skittles here – What they’ve done is to abdicate their brand voice on their own website.  It’s a gaffe that’s embodied by the fact that Skittles doesn’t even have its own Twitter feed.

They at least have a floating navigation widget to direct folks to the social media properties they’ve set up – on Facebook and YouTube – but there isn’t much to compel a visitor to try these out. YouTube for instance falls under the “Media” button which for many users means a link for reporters.

Even worse, they have some very funny TV spots that aren’t at all reflected in the feel of any of their social media profiles, and barely on their Twitterized homepage (though their site description on SERP’s does fit the tone well – see the Google screenshot above.) Rather than Twittering in the voice of the “sour man” who determines if someone can have sour Skittles, or directing folks to a Skittles “tailor” fan page on Facebook,  they have some fairly generic profiles (and none at all on Twitter). Skittles is missing out on unified messaging that not only helps them connect with customers online, but gets more value out of their expensive TV spots.

Real engagement happens in social media when a brand gives people a reason to interact, and to feel more connected through the experience. So far Skittles has failed to really engage users online.

Questions or comments? Feel free to leave them here or check out Reprise Media folks on Twitter.

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