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ryan bBy now it's a fair assumption to say that the new Skittles social media drenched website has owned the week in internet marketing. According to the March 5 Google Trends index it spiked more than 100 percent in news reference volume this week, and more than 50 percent in actual searches.

Now that the buzz is fading just a little, we asked Mars PR Manager and spokesperson Ryan Bowling to put the launch in perspective.

Econsultancy: We noticed that each visit to the Skittles website gets a different result. Sometimes we land on Facebook, sometimes Twitter, sometimes Wikipedia. Is that calculated?

Bowling: Yes. People who have followed our brand understand that they should expect the unexpected. It's important to point out I think that this is a website. It's the Skittles website, not a series of social media feeds. It's an unexpected twist for our core customer. It gets us into the conversation for social media and our customers who live and breathe it. This is not temporary.

Who is that core customer?

Well, our biggest concern is the teen audience, but as we all know social media has caught on for all different kinds of age groups from kids to seniors. We want to attract people who have some sort of interest in the brand or passion for it. I'd say that Skittles is a state of mind as well as a brand.

What are the goals for Skittles the brand and Skittles the product? What kind of numbers would make you say this effort is a success?

A lot of things. We're looking at top of mind awareness. We're looking at finding a way to relate to customers in this world in the right way. We want it to have some long term sales effects, for sure. Other things we're looking at are customer engagement, amount of conversations, depth of conversation, overall traffic, and some other things that are hard to measure. There's so much value in having a follower. There's so much passion associated with it. Hard to put a fixed value on that.

You handle PR for a lot of Mars brands. Do you expect more of these website changes that play to social media fans?

Yes. You know some other brands are doing some similar things. For M&Ms we have a NASCAR promotion that allows customers to post their photos. For M&Ms we've had a lot of user generated content and social network marketing for a long time. We've had my M&Ms since 2005. When it started you could personalize your candy. Now you can put your picture on it.

Up next for Skittles?

Can't tell you. Expect the unexpected.

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Published 5 March, 2009 by John Gaffney

John Gaffney is US Editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter

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