At StephanieBamBam.net, I learned that Skittles.com has revamped their web site to be a weird social media experiment. Essentially, they are scouring the internet (in particular, twitter and wikipedia) for any mentions of ‘skittles’ and putting them, without any editing, right on their homepage. Indeed, when I clicked “chatter” on the site, one of the top tweets displayed was “Unicorns fart skittles.”
But the key thing is whether it sells more candy or not. As she says:
In the long run, is this going to make me buy more candy? Absolutely not. But I will be pointing to this as an example of UGC [user-generated content] gone bad for years to come. So for that, thanks Skittles!!
And she is quite negative about the experiment!
I, however, have a different take on the site. Although posters may be interested in seeing their tweets go on skittles.com, their messages are carried to their followers too. These messages far outweigh the exposure on skittles.com, and they are matched to their audience. I know that some of my readers, like Eric say, will *love* the title of this post. It will not reflect badly on skittles at all! And any negative connotation of “unicorns fart skittles” that one sees on skittles.com must be taken with a grain of salt.
I would be interested in seeing if the campaign has any impact on sales or not, because I am bit more bullish about the impact than Stephanie is.
Anyone for a rainbow of fruit flavors?
3. et cetera
I was at lunch with Scott Orn, a VC at Lighthouse Capital Partners, and he encouraged me to pursue this idea as a blog post.
Increasingly, A-list celebrities like Shaquille O’Neill and Demi Moore are actively updating their fans through twitter. In Demi Moore’s case, she has nearly 50,000 people following her! Even Congress is getting into the act, as 20 Senators and 50 Representatives have started twitter accounts. A friend from college has launched yardbarker.com, an amazing site that has gotten hundreds of professional athletes to blog on a regular basis and has the inside scoop on sports in general.
Why are so many celebrities and public figures “wasting” their time on social networks? Disintermediation. Now, they can offer tidbits directly to their fans bypassing the gossip rags and traditional media. By offering the personal tidbits of their own choosing, they can simultaneously help satiate their fans while controlling the spin about their lives.
Is this disintermediation a good thing? My brother-in-law, Sam, is a sport reporter, and he was bemoaning the fact that Tiger Woods issues press releases directly to his fans through his web site but does not do press conferences. Sam worried that ultimately fans were getting a disservice because they lost the chance of indepth, knowledgeable follow up questions on potentially sensitive subjects. His concern translates into a more alarming question when we turn to politics. Can we really imagine a “Watergate moment” by a blogger?
At the present time, I think the disintermediation trend is very real. We are losing our traditional “fourth estate” in the process, and hopefully entrepreneurs will create new institutions that are native to the new media to speak truth to power.
1. technology, 2. politics, 3. et cetera
At Nathaniel’s urging, I am jumping in a little deeper into twitterSpace. Practically, that means a few things:
1. I’ve added 67 people to follow (see them here but you’ll need to sign up with twitter first)
2. I’ve installed TwitterFox in order to follow the tweets in firefox and avoid needing another place to check messages
3. I’ve installed TwitterBar to make it easier to post stuff I find online in Firefox
4. I tried to install TweetSuite on this blog, but currently it isn’t working properly (tweets not appearing on this blog)
Here’s my first impression after 2 hours of twittering: compared to blogs, it takes navel gazing to the next level!