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Skittles and the Truth about Social Networking

The candy maker “Skittles” is taking a real risk and is becoming the first company to really embrace social media.  Sure, lot’s of companies say they’re doing social networking, but Skittles may be the first to truly let the conversations be controlled by the consumers.  Here’s the big truth about social networking most organizations aren’t getting – it’s not about
creating a site where you dictate the content.  It’s about creating a platform and providing the online tools for your users to create the conversations.  That becomes risky for non-profits & business organizations because true freedom in the conversations means being open to criticism.  That’s why the vast majority of organizations who tout their “social networking” platforms are actually dictating and filtering the conversations, and only allowing positive comments through.

It will be interesting to see where this leads with Skittles.  The site features a Twitter feed that collects any comments in the Twitter stream about the word “Skittles,” and it’s also funneling through similar subjects from YouTube and Facebook.

It’s a bold effort on the part of the company and we’ll see what happens.  The bottom line is that “social networking” is a powerful tool for building momentum, and companies and organizations desperately want to use it to create a buzz online.  But are you really gutsy enough to allow consumers to speak on behalf of your brand?

As I say in my new book “The Last TV Evangelist” – “The digital world is not for sissies.”

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9 Comments

  1. I like the move they made, but I don’t think they completely thought through the implications before they acted. When I went to the site, it made sure I was over 18, which seems odd, since kids are probalby the target of most candy. And from what I’ve read, the jokes got to be too much for them:

    http://mashable.com/2009/03/03/skittles-switchesto-facebook/

    I like what they’re trying to do, but this may be a classic case of a company not considering the implications before they jump in. As it is, their own Twitter feed contains several jokes about how they had to pull back.

  2. They did switch the homepage to Facebook, but you can still access the Twitter feed if you click the "Chatter" button on their little widget. It was a pretty bold move, but I like it. And I can almost guarantee that their one-day sales saw a huge boost yesterday.

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