You Have A Website?
So Skittles has done what digital agencies Modernista and Zeus Jones did some time ago and turned its website into a series of social media links. But where Zeus Jones and Modernista were demonstrating that they undestood the arena in which they were operating, Skittles have really just changed their website.
There's no branded utility here - if I didn't want to visit their website, I surely won't change my mind because there are more options now. If I'm web savvy, I'll have all those links on my desktop anyway. And inevitably, there are software conflicts - I was asked to upgrade my browser before gaining access. Is it only me who wonders how large a proportion of internet users have a set-up that works for them but falls some way short of that felt to be the norm by early-adopting website designers?
Yes, it's generating a lot of noise in the social media village, but where's the interaction that is at the heart of the tools to which they're linking? Why do I want a widget sending me what will inevitably be corporate-influenced RSS feeds on my computer? Where's the permissive engagement? To me, it's too close to an old-school awareness exercise.
Now people will say that Skittles (or anyone else) will be able to "leverage" that awareness for the good of their product, but there's no such deal here. Getting a widget onto people's computers is like the worst kind of sponsorship that just plasters its logo all over an event with no reference to the context - it's all about presence and very little about purpose. When you view it in those terms, leverage becomes a synonym for exploit and people don't like to be exploited.
Bottom line for me - people don't visit websites to be promoted to and they certainly don't return to them, so trying to update one beyond providing constant accurate infomation seems like an expensive exercise in futility. What you mean to your customers is no longer - if it ever was - determined by your website.