6 mar. 2009


Skittles thought social media would be like stealing candy from a baby, but this time the baby fought back.

It all started Monday morning when all visitors trying to access the official Skittles site found themselves looking at a Twitter search page.

The “Chat the Rainbow” slogan was supposed to encurage visitors to share their thoughts on Skittles, so that the Twitter stream would look more like a story made of 140 character-long bits.

This PR stunt was cleaver in theory- getting people to talk about your brand in a new, exciting and different way. But what Skittles omitted in practice was the very essence of social media (and Twitter in particular)- actively engaging, interacting with the community.

People don’t just settle for information anymore, they want a human face to go with it; they want conversations, answers tailored to their needs and wishes.

When brands like Starbucks, Whole Foods, Home Depot and even Kodak choose to connect, listen, engage and bring value to their consummers, you can’t afford to do it wrong.

Sure, Skittles covered all the bases (again- in theory)- from Twitter to Facebook and from Flickr to Youtube, but a closer look unveils the lack of implication and communication with the communities they entered.

As for the Twitter stream, the lack of filters and no way of moderating tweets, the Skittles campaign opened the door to some very offensive tweets right on their homepage; moreover, visitors looking for actual information about Skittles products easily got frustrated by the effort of “digging” through pages and pages of spam in order to find the relevant bits of information they were looking for.

Due to the backfire of the Twitter experiment, Skittles moved their homepage to Facebook and later on Wikipedia, failing to adapt to the new conditions. Now, the Skittles social media campaign has become a case study on how to fail in social media. Lesson learned?