Should you turn your Web site over to the people?

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New rainbows of possibilities in social marketing

Photo courtesy of *Micky

Photo courtesy of *Micky

Perhaps you’ve not yet heard that Skittles got Internet marketers and social media pundits all a-Twitter this week by taking the bold step of directing visitors to to its Twitter, Facebook and Wikipedia pages. Whatever your opinion, it’s undeniably a unique approach. Rather than have a corporate site with a look and feel similar to that of thousands of other sites representing big consumer brands, Skittles, working with, is directing visitors to its Wikipedia page, Facebook page and a TwitterSearch results page showing all mentions of the brand on Twitter. If you want information about a particular flavor, say Skittles Sour, it directs you to the relevant Wikipedia entry, not a marketing page. When you let anyone edit the content to which you’re directing all your visitors, that’s embracing the voice of the people.

Photo courtesy of Cessna 206

Photo courtesy of Cessna 206

We at CisionBlog don’t always feel the need to weigh in on the topic of the moment unless we have something original to offer (or the topic provides an opportunity to blanket a blog post in images of candy and rainbows). However, the conversations I’ve read on this topic have rarely posed the question: Is turning your main brand URL into a hub for your presence on the social Web a good idea for a lot of companies? I think it depends on the role your company site plays in delivering information to your customers. Whether you’re business-to-business or business-to-consumer, if your site is a key destination for your customers with a lot of detailed product information, explanatory or instructional content, or other essential info, turning your Web presence over to the masses may not be such a great idea.

Photo courtesy of linh.ngân

Photo courtesy of linh.ngân

For Skittles, in some sense there was little at stake. The site was not a major destination to begin with. Before the launch of the new, social version on Monday, it was receiving only 15,000 unique visitors per month, according to Quantcast. If you feel like you need to do something new to attract attention to your Web site and you don’t need it to serve any of the functions I was just describing, a bold move like this might be just what you’ve been looking for. As with all outreach on the social Web, you’ll need a thick skin though. If the occasional vain attempt to sabotage your efforts, such as messages like “if you eat skittles you support killing kittens and puppies,” (a tweet that appeared on the day after the new site’s launch) would cause your company to deem the project a failure, don’t do it.

For most companies, a hybrid approach is probably best. You can integrate social elements into your site without relinquishing control. For example, at Cision, we link to our favorite tweets discussing our products and services.

Here are some of the best posts discussing this topic. What are your thoughts?

This Post is Not About Skittles by Todd Defren (it kinda is, and it’s very insightful)

Skittles New “Website” Leaves a Bad Taste for Some by Kat French

Hey! Who Stole My Twittles? I Mean, Skittles! by Catharine P. Taylor

Skittles Smackdown, a Sociological Viewpoint by Dave Armano

Tags : social media

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