September 23, 2017

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

Sk*ttles proves that Social Media Marketers come in three flavors

Sk*ttles proves that Social Media Marketers come in three flavors

I’ve had a bit of time to think about this whole Sk*ttles thing.

Recently, M&M Mars took the URL for its Skittles brand and redirected it to various social media sites. You got a small little flash navigation widget as an overlay of Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.

Was it smart? Was it dumb? Was it original? Was it a rip-off of what Modernista did?

Who cares? My take-away came from the reaction to the campaign, more than the campaign itself. After all, we have no clue what the yardstick for measurement was in this case. Was it sales? Was it buzz? Was it for comparison of channels? I don’t know for sure who does know, but I know most of us don’t.

However, the default responses reveal quite a bit about the echo chamber.

I started referring to the whole thing as Sk*ttles, and I had a reason: professional marketers, if they are being professional, as a courtesy ought to respect the boundaries of a campaign channel. For instance, if a presidential candidate had a blog post discussing healthcare, then the discussion ought to be about healthcare and not dominated by PR hack comments about the use of the blog. Likewise, if an advertiser does an outdoor campaign that’s noteworthy, we don’t start scribbling our comments on the benches and posters (“Wow! This was an original piece of thinking, really promotes the brand as provocative!”)

Instead, we had a bunch of Social Media People gushing about the buzz, clicking over again and again just to see their names on the Sk*ttle/Tw*tter B*llboard — then g*ggl*ng with glee that the idea appears to be so successful! (I was asked why I was “hatin'” on the Sk*ttles campaign by using the asterisk. Is it so hateful to segregate insider buzz from outsider buzz? Or is it presumptuous of me to assume there ought to be a difference?)

What was revealed to me were three flavors of reaction.

1) Those who will applaud anything and everything Social Media, because they need every effort to succeed. They have so much invested in Social Media as a meal ticket they will rabidly attack anyone who questions a campaign.

2) Those who will denounce anything and everything Social Media, because they need to assert their authenticity and purity in the space. They also have a lot invested in Social Media, and can’t afford to let someone else succeed with anything that is less pure and authentic than their lofty standards will allow.

3) Those who scratched their heads. They didn’t know what to think, weren’t sure what to believe, and were alright with not passing judgment or sentence on the effort.

So, a big thank you to Sk*ttles. You’ve helped me shine a lot on how human nature remains at the center of marketing and Social Media, and how it is so important to factor that into a medium where feedback loops can distort the importance of any message. Just to say thank you, I will buy a big bag of Sk*ttles on my next trip to the big box store — I’ll likely find them far more palatable than two of the three flavors I encountered in the SocMedosphere.

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