I just signed up for General Mills’ Pssst… membership club because I was interested in seeing how a big consumer products company assimilates all that we’ve learned about online communities and applies it to a super-brand site (plus, I love Lucky Charms!). It’s still early, but this site is off to a very weak start.
Pssst… is intended to bring fans of General Mills products closer to the company by inviting them into a members-only space where they can receive inside information, get coupons and samples and share their opinions about the company’s products. This is all the stuff that I preach organizations should do with branded communities. The site is produced in collaboration with GlobalPark, a company that manages online panels.
Pssst… is good in concept but bad in execution. I would not have launched the site in its current condition:
- The “My Profile” section contains nothing more than a mailing address. That is not a profile; it is a contact form.
- There are six “activities” listed on the “My Home” page. Two of them link to press releases. The other two are invitations to download JPG images of General Mills products to display on your blog. The Yoplait image is nearly 1MB in size, which is a problem for people with low-bandwidth ISP accounts. I can’t publish it at full size because it would blow up my blog template, but click on the image above to see the downloaded image in all its glory. Why would General Mills want to deliver something this unwieldy? Also, the images have no added value. There are no links to coupons, no news, no games, nothing beyond a picture of a yogurt carton. Why would I embed that in my blog?
- Also, it appears that the only way members can get coupons is to e-mail them to themselves. This would conflict with my advice that companies treat these branded destination as “clubs.” There is nothing in this club for me.
- Finally, a prominent banner at the bottom of the home page reads “Want to start your own blog? Click here to find out how!” It links to the Blogger home page. Why is this even here? Why would General Mills want one of the most visible links on the home page to take the visitor off-site? Wouldn’t this be a nice opportunity to give people a blog within a branded General Mills space?
There are other small annoyances. There is no navigation on the activity pages. The most visible link in the navigation bar is “cancel membership.” Most of the real estate on the pages is wasted.
In sum, Pssst… is a disappointing first effort from a company that should know better.