Tony Adam

Entrepreneur, Marketer, Aspiring Polymath

Social Media

Skittles Aggregated Website, is this a Win or Fail?

March 2, 2009 4

Lots a brewing on the Skittles madness tonight because of they’re new “Social Media Aggregation” for their domain. The question I have is, was this a move of pure genius? Or, are they shooting themselves in the foot!

Age and Demographics to get Started:

To start with, before you start to interact with anything Skittles, they make you enter your age. Which, could be a great thing for the simple fact that they could start collecting the demographics of who their main audience is. But, how many people find this as a roadblock? Typically, unobtrusive UI is preferred for new users, but, it’s even worse when every time you hit the dot com, they continue to ask you. This is both a intrusive UI and possibility for skewed deomagraphical data.

End Result: FAIL

Twitter Search Home Page

After you’ve gotten past that point you are now stuck in a situation where you have to think about what you have to do. you are left with almost no outs and no where to go put to look at a twitter search screen and a modal window that has some links. If I was a normal user, my first thought was…”Um, I’m lost, I’m getting out of here.” or “Hmm, I wonder if I hit the wrong page?” It wouldn’t hit the normal user right away that there is a bit of a different user experience being exposed here.

End Result: FAIL

Twitter Trending Topics

You’ll notice that in Twitter Search, “#skittles” is a trending topic. But, this would obviously not last for long, otherwise, people would constantly initiate a twitter search on domains to create trending topics…but wait…did we just stumble upon a hole in the trending topics on twitter? We’ll wait to see where that goes and how Twitter deals with it. Either way, this won’t last for long, otherwise, “skittles” will be trending on twitter forever, and, I’m sure Twitter isn’t okay with this.

End Result: FAIL

Search Results and SEO

Lets take a minute to think about how this effects their Search Results and Traffic for skittles terms. As it stands sites like Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook, etc. need no help with SEO. But, this new UI provides no content on the skittles.com domain for any of their product or relevant content. Instead, Skittles is now linking to sites like Wikipedia. As a matter of fact, clicking on any of the product links in the widget through skittles takes you to Wikipedia. The only link that keeps you on Skittles.com, “Products,” a generic search term.

Helping sites like Wikipedia and YouTube doesn’t help the SEO value on their domain. What it will do is a create a variety of sites that show up for brand related terms. The problem is that you could quite possibly be killing all internal SEO efforts and watching those sites rank and drive traffic outside your domain.

End Result: Push

Conversation, and Publicity

That all said, lets take a look at the most important questions about the new aggregated website. Starting with Conversation and Publicity. While, skittles is trending on twitter and tons of people are talking about it, the question we have to ask is, are we the ones that they really want talking? We all have to remember that we are a part of the small fraction of the population and that we shouldn’t live within the EchoChamber. The current conversation is definitely stuck within the tech community and we are all talking about it, which is good. The problem is, how much of us talking about it is their target audience, demographic, or is the average user they are trying to reach.

To sum up, we are talking, the cutting edge of the tech crowds that are following on twitter and such, but, the everyday consumer, well, this conversation probably isn’t getting to them…yet.

End Result: Push


With regards to branding, I feel like they are leaving themselves an opportunity for many failures. From what is being mentioned on the homepage via twitter, to the links being injected into the twitter stream via the trending search term, to possible porn spam or injecting content via framebusting. (credit Michael Gray).

Remember those Wikipedia pages I talked about a couple minutes ago, well, how about the people that will edit those pages and insert related content spam into Wikipedia. Those, those pages are editable, and, we could see an influx of spam on those pages.

Finally, imagine if you are a parent and you are watching your kid play around with skittles.com and have a porn link passed to your child in a spammy way. Next thing you know, twitter is being sued by many a parent and the branding just took a nose dive because of bad publicity.

End Result: FAIL

Overall Result: FAIL (4-2)

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There are 4 comments

  • Kenny Hyder says:

    *YAWN* – honestly, its a cool idea… Too bad it was already done.

  • Tony,

    Thanks for writing an insightful and well though out case study. What Skittles did was a great social media/publicity tactic, or stunt and definitely achieved “viral” status.

    You asked an interesting question: “Did they hit their target market?” Well yes, if you are web 2.0, socially savvy Internet user. I would like to know what percentage that demographic makes up of their customer base. That may have been the strategy; to garner our attention? In that case, it definitely succeeded.

    Saying that, I did go out and buy some Skittles today. I’d been craving them since 1AM when I tweeted it.


  • Tony Adam says:

    @Kenny ya, it’s been done…but…that still doesn’t make it a good User Experience, Also, we are the tech saavy crowd that gets it, we understand what we are suppose to do and can figure it out. The general web population does not.

    @Macala Thank you for asking that question, as it stands, we don’t know their demographics, but, that would be interesting to know. (P.S. You were my 200th comment, remind me that I owe you a drink!)

  • I’m not overly concerned if it’s a win, push, or fail. I’m just a Mom who has blocked the site.

    In my house it’s a fail, but I’m a tough consumer anyhow.

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