Last night, when campaign managers probably figured it was safe to soft launch quietly, and with the protection of nightfall, Skittles turned its home page into a twitter profile page. “Skittles” was soon the largest tag by far on an otherwise moribund Twitscoop Tweetdeck tagcloud (say those three times quickly) — and the doors blew off in the twitterverse.
- This was a combined effort with twitter itself. Skittles.com looks like it’s twitter.
- It’s not really a twitter home page — it’s a search results page that pumps results to make it look like a twitter page.
- Which makes it kinda nifty. Imagine entering a search phrase in Google and seeing your query in the results. That’s how this works.
- In some ways it’s like advertising in reverse. Because instead of creating a message and then releasing it into the internets, this sucks in advertising from the internets. And we’re doing the advertising.
- Talk about “disruptive” (tired and weary phrase for something new we don’t know how to monetize yet). The skittles twitter campaign is a twist on aggregation. All your tweets are belong to us!
- Skittles has gotten us to endorse it, in a manner of speaking, with our own words. In fact, if there’s ever been a better example of feed-based advertising, tell me what it is. This is post-Obama social media!
- It is also a form of feed-based product placement. Skittles smartly used the voyeurism, attraction to bright and shiny things, and latent narcissism of the twitterverse to hold a mirror up to twitter and flip the light switch. Twitterers let loose out of curiosity to catch themselves (many if not all) in the buzz of activity that gathers around a well-placed lamppost.
- It was based on trust, and a huge leap of faith. From me at least, hat’s off to the brand’s transparency.
- And talk about taking Marshall McLuhan at his word. The medium is indeed the message!
Note: This blog post belongs to a series on “status culture.” The posts examine status updates, facebook activity feeds, news feeds, twitter, microblogging, lifestreaming, and other social media applications and features belonging to conversation media. My approach will be user-centric as always, and tackle usability and social experience issues (human factors, interaction design, interface design) at the heart of social interaction design. But we will also use anthropology, sociology, psychology, communication and media theories. Perhaps even some film theory.
The converational trend in social networking sites and applications suggests that web 2.0 is rapidly developing into a social web that embraces talk (post IM, chat, and email) in front of new kinds of publics and peer groups. User generated content supplied to search engines is increasingly produced conversationally. Social media analytics tools provide PR and social media marketing with means to track and monitor conversations. Brands are interested in joining the conversation feeds, through influencers as well as their own twitter presence.
This changing landscape not only raises interesting issues for developers and applications (such as the many twitter third party apps), but for social practices emerging around them. So we will look also at design principles for conversation-based apps, cultural and social trends, marketing trends, and other examples of new forms of talk online.
These blog posts will vary in tenor, from quick reflections on experiences to more in-depth approaches to design methodology for conversational social media.