Skittles pulls Twitter integration – Twitter down Facebook up

by Peter Young on March 4, 2009 · 1 comment

In one of the bravest social media campaigns in recent times, Skittles turned over the shop space to the general public. Not their real shop space but their virtual one – and integrated their homepage with Twitter. This sent the blogospere and microblogging sites alight with buzz regarding the campaign, not least Twitter. However, the page has now been taken down to be replaced by their Facebook page

Skittles Social Media homepage

Skittles Social Media homepage

The initial response was overwhelming and I would suggest well beyond what Skittles would probably have been expecting, however this turned sour on Tuesday, as a number of ‘Twitter vandals’ started tweeting profanities which ended up on the Skittles homepage. Whether or not this type of activity should have been foreseen by Skittles is another question, however it is unlikely we would have seen the same level of buzz had this been deeper embedded within the site. The whole campaign was based on impact and impact was certainly what it got, however by trusting consumers with content, in a medium where they could not control the conversation – they lost control of the conversation and tone of conversation on a very public forum.

Given the well established nature of the brand, I personally believe it was slightly naive of the brand to undertake such a brave step, however well intentioned it was. That aside, for around 24-36 hours I would suggest Skittles would have been extremely happy, however it was always (imo) a risky manoeuvre – and it proved as such.

For that reason, I would suggest the following lessons should be taken from the campaign:

  1. Undertake due diligence before you undertake the campaign. Make sure you understand the full implications of the campaign, including both pros and more importantly cons.
  2. Choose your medium carefully. Twitter is the current flavour of the month, but it is an unmoderated forum and as such is not without considerable risk. Other channels such as Facebook or blogs, could provide a far more manageable forum in which to have such a discussion, which could be seeded by channels such as Twitter.
  3. Ensure your monitoring tools are in place, you need to know what is happening quickly and effectively. There are a number of online monitoring tools out there including Radian6, Sentiment Metrics,  Market Sentinel,  Trackur, even Google Alerts will suffice.

Despite the fact it has ended slightly unceramouniasly, I can only applaud Skittles on the campaign to a certain extent. If nothing else it has given the rest of us a fantastic case study on social media and the power of word of mouth.

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Amber Naslund March 4, 2009 at 4:49 pm

Hey there,

What an interesting campaign to watch. I’d personally really like to hear straight from the agency and team about what their objectives are/were for the campaign and how well they met those. In addition to the risk you mention, it’s critically important to recognize that social media isn’t a stunt. It’s a communications mindset, and I’d love to know what they’ve learned from this experience.

Thanks also for mentioning Radian6; of course, we’re huge advocates for not only monitoring the buzz a campaign creates, but doing listening on the front end to gauge how relevant and impactful that campaign might be to your community.

Amber Naslund
director of Community | Radian6

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