Join the conversation.
The phrase has been tossed around as frequently as the mythical social media expert. Too often, it comes hand in hand with said expert; a cliché call to arms for non-specific, non-strategic, general web 2.0′ness. Make a Facebook page, make a twitter account… myspace? check. We’ve just joined the conversation!
Tonight, Skittles attempted to change the game.
Have a look at Skittles.com. Rather than joining the conversation, Skittles is showing you the conversation. Any post on Twitter that mentions their brand is shown, in real time, on what used to be their home page. They essentially made themselves into the conversation.
Have they lost their minds completely? Or have they realized that consumers are going to believe word-of-mouth hype from their friends before they will believe that they are tasting a rainbow.
According to MARS spokesman Ryan Bowling, its the latter. “In this day and age, where the consumer is extremely influential, the content for our Web site is really based off consumer chatter and beliefs about our brand.”
Where does this go from here? Is this a win for MARS?
They will certainly ride a tidal wave of hype – first, from the masses of people trying to see their 13-year-old Skittles jokes / racial slurs show up on the site. Secondly from fans of social media, giddy (or furious, or disinterested) to see a new big company join the fray. And thirdly from major media outlets, always happy to write about the web 2.0 tool du jour.
But will it result in revenue? Will someone buy Skittles because they tried to leverage Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia and Flickr?
Hey Mom, I’m on Skittles.com!!!
After the initial novelty wears off, what will the landscape look like? Twitter is a proven revolving door of conversation. If a disaster like a plane crash or an earthquake can come and go from the trending topics within hours, what will be left of this high-profile experiment once the “Hi Mom!” effect wears off?
Without meaningful conversation, it seems as if there is nothing to sink hooks into for this campaign. Sure, we’re all going to their site a few more times tonight than usual. And I’m certainly seeing their brand name clogging up my Tweetdeck – but there is nothing meaningful happening.
In short, MARS has manipulated a technology-obsessed mass of people to toss their flyers around and they are publishing the results. The technique doesn’t work in real life, and it probably won’t work here. Sometimes, big risks pay off with big rewards. Sometimes, you end up with a Motrin sized headache.