Skittles moves their homepage to Twitter: Crazy? Genius? Both?

(2pm note:  see update at the bottom of this blog)

Just the other day, Skittles made a bold experiment:  they moved their Skittles.com homepage to a Twitter search page (see it here).  The new homepage is the same Twitter page you would view if your were to search for “Skittles” under Twitter search.  The only added features from the company are two pop ups – one that asks for your birthdate before you can see the site, and one on the top left that redirects you to Skittles information (as would be available on a typical company website).

The outcome?  It’s 10 a.m. right now, and on average, 10 people per minute are including “Skittles” in their Twitter feed, many of them just writing in in gratuitously to get their name at the top of the page.  Tweets like this one are common:  DaveMcCue: look Ma, I’m on the Skittles homepage! 

There’s also some like this:  spedteacher: Please RT: @andrewwarner wants to take over Skittles page. He’s lending $1 on Kiva for each retweet of this message–till midnight.

This is a great experiment, and there’s obviously lots of marketing benefits (even if it is just a one-time novelty), as well as potential downfalls.

Pros:  – Lots of people on Twitter now talking about Skittles, and all of their followers now see the word “Skittles” popping up.  The novelty factor encourages conversation as well (notice that I’m blogging about it).  Great way to get people talking about your brand, at no financial cost.  This morning, the Wall Street Journal posted their own blog on the subject

Cons:  – No company control over the dialogue could be a problem.  For instance, someone could tweet a derogatory comment next to the word “Skittles”, which would then show up at the top of skittles.com.  Atleast one website has already been launched to encourage this (I’m not going to link it myself, but if you’re really interested you can find it through the WSJ blog).  I should note that they do have one safeguard; you have to type in your birthdate before you can visit the site (must be over 18).

Overall, I don’t think this particular experiment represents a future trend for marketing, atleast not in its current form.  Skittles, in the long term, shouldn’t look to restrict their site to adults-only.   Still, it’s a great novelty, and it likely points towards a future where savvy brands will find innovative ways to use Twitter as a customer engagement tool.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  Is this a smart campaign?  Or, will it blow up in their face?  Should other companies take on similar endeavours?

skittles

(2:00 pm update:  Instead of Twitter, Skittles has changed this so that they now redirect to a Skittles facebook page.  I assume this was pre-planned.  I wonder what they have in store for us next?  What are your thoughts on this?)

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