When you enter the skittles web address in your browser you are presented with what can be likened to a widget. This points you to the various sites on the social web. They have selected the most popular and categorised them as follows :-
- Home - Currently pointing at their Facebook group (587,584 members at the time of writing). The link rotates between social sites
- Chatter - Links to a Twitter feed searching for "Skittles"
- Media - Links to YouTube and Flickr
- Products - Links to respective Wikipedia entries
- Contact - Points to a dedicated contact us page
If you ignore the details of how good or bad Skittles (or more accurately, Mars) have implemented this approach and focus on the high level strategy, there are some major implications.
Firstly, they have decided to reach out to the online areas where a lot of people are already spending their time; as opposed to attracting them to visit the website. Paradigm shift in thinking, and one to be commended. This approach should begin to dominate the search results, especially Google Universal...currently it isn't, but give it time. There is also an enormous buzz around this approach and the viral aspect is huge. My colleague Chris Clapham picked up on it yesterday and it now finds a place on the Propellernet blog; the econsultancy blog also posted an article...and there is this one as well...along with hundreds of others no doubt. Sentiment in posts will vary, however awareness and visibility will be huge. Maybe some reputation management to be dealt with (most probably by those who didn't think of this approach first), but in the main a fairly positive vibe.
So will others adopt a similar approach? Does this mean the web design agencies will become redundant? Will organisations risk hosting their web business across the social web?
Personally, I really hope this is a model that catches on and others try it out. I still prefer good old Tooty Frooties though!