Wednesday, November 4, 2009

These Really are 10 Things Social Media Can't Do

I don’t often read an article and say, “ I simply cannot say it better.” In the case of this article in Ad Age Digital, which is getting a lot of attention on Twitter this morning, I really can’t say it better.

B.L. Ochman had me at number one:

Social media can't:

1. Substitute for marketing strategy.

The 9 that follow are equally good; read it quickly before it goes subscription only!

I couldn’t resist a bit of follow-up also, so I looked for some lists of failures. I found 2 good ones from May of this year. Jennifer Leggio, writing for ZDNet, had no trouble listing “the nine worst of the year—so far.” Read and heed. Denise Zimmerman had some good commentary on 4 social media campaigns in iMedia Connection about the same time.

Both mentioned Skittles, which I wrote about last spring when they made their entire home page into a Twitter page. I checked again, and here’s what I found.
This is A landing page? I guess so. The real issue is to keep young people off. Under 13, under 18; I couldn't tell; they cooked my site when I gave (dishonestly) my age. Why? Not anything that Skittles is saying, but some of their contributors are quite foul-mouthed.

This is what you get when you click "Home." Honestly! You get their Flickr page!!!

Their Twitter stuff is still there, it's under Chatter now. I went to the effort of a screen capture that didn't have any obscenities. It took quite a bit of scrolling.

Sorry, but I just can’t see any of this qualifying as a strategy! And why should a candy product want to support content that makes its site unacceptable for underage web users? It boggles the mind!

Let me end with a quote from Denise Zimmerman’s article:

Have a clear goal in mind for social media programs, and focus efforts on achieving it. Know your audience. Create something of mutual value. Observe and listen to what your customers are already doing and saying. Recognize that certain aspects of social media require an ongoing commitment. If you discover that you miscalculated your resources or a path you chose was not ideal or suited to your objectives, then regroup to move positively forward. Create your own definition of success against the available opportunities and align your programs, resources, and expectations accordingly.

Have a strategy, evaluate your progress toward its goals, and realign if necessary. Amen!


clajoie said...

I don't understand what the skittles company is really thinking here. There isn't a positive post on the twitter page, and it certainly is not cleaned up language wise. It's a really poor idea for a website...

Brian Jones said...

I actually worked for Skittles' owner- Mars, Inc. and was part of their "Ultimate Business School" (employer brand) management program. It's been 4-5 years and there have been a number of changes to the corporate structure (including purchasing Wm Wrigley last year), but I can tell you that many of the Mars brands operate with an astonishing degree of autonomy.
In fact, it's part of Mars' whole model- to be fiercely independent and do things their own way. This is encouraged on nearly every level- Corporate, Brand, Departmental, Individual, etc.. As a privately owned company (one of the world's largest), Mars carries little debt, doesn't report earnings or answer to Wall St.- and is known for being hyper-secretive on everything from financials to the meticulous way they place nuts on their Snickers bars- seriously! From an operational standpoint, I can attest: the organization is extremely well run on every level.
That said, the Skittles web/social media tactic is a bit of a head scratcher- and seems disconnected from even the least (or most) imaginative brand objectives. Before I looked at the site, I might have concluded it was just a koo-key Mars brand team flexing their “independence” muscles. However upon looking at the site, the whole thing just seems lazy.
Starting from page where you enter your DOB- after I enter the first two digits it should automatically advance me to the next field (as opposed to making me click into each) – annoying, and an easy coding fix if they were so inclined. Plus, just using Flikr as your whole site… C’mon! Looks like they’ve either paid their web designer with a handful of Skittles, or their “pimply Interns” are spearheading entire web marketing strategy. Kidding aside, this could be an example of brand neglect resulting from the transition to using Wrigley’s for manufacturing and marketing.