Is Snapchat Really Dead?

February 26, 2018 Ophelie Zalcmanis-Lai

Snapchat had one hell of a week last week.

After launching a very questionably designed (in the opinion of users) update, First Kylie Jenner tweeted that she never opens it.

Then, the stock dropped 6% which translates to a $1.3 billion loss for the company’s market value.

And then Maybelline decided to chime in and ask people if it should still be on Snapchat (but then later deleted the controversial poll). 

All said, CEO Evan Spiegel still walked away with a $638 million bonus. So maybe last week wasn’t all so bad.

But the question then comes down to is Snapchat really dead? Just how much does Jenner’s opinion matter (or should it matter)? And will things blow over?

This is what captured our minutes last week. Here’s why:

1. People were clearly very concerned. And very definitive about that concern.

Everyone was talking about this. Seriously – everyone.

Spiegel tried to explain that the update was to make Snapchat more personal, but pretty much everyone disagreed with that.

Words like “horrible,” “twisted,” “disorganized,” and “trash” were often used in very angry, all-caps tweets. Even Carl’s Jr. had something to say.

But aside from people showing screenshots of them deleting the app or sending strongly worded messages to the company, various ‘experts’ and ‘analysts’ also had something to say. For example, an article by The Guardian quoted a source saying this:

“We’re watching a company explode into bits,” said Eric Schiffer, CEO of private equity firm Patriarch Organization, arguing that the redesign scandal was the “greatest app debacle” he had ever seen in Silicon Valley: “This is a kiss of death to a brand like Snapchat with their base that has stuck with them.”

That’s pretty heavy. Not to mention, there have been some worries from investors that that Spiegel will be able to “draw in advertising revenue relative to his competitors.” Vanity Fair also reports that since Snapchat went public, Wall Street analysts have repeatedly downgraded Snap’s stock.

While there were some industry experts that took more of a balanced view to Snapchat, opting to say that ultimately things will come down to several factors (rather than just a tweet from Kylie Jenner) including what Facebook does next, how well Snapchat can hold onto the youngins, and how Snapchat will continue to evolve its brand positioning.

Regardless, the point of sharing all these perspectives is to demonstrate just how many people had an opinion to share. Though things weren’t necessarily great for Snapchat, people were still talking. Hell, they started a petition to change the app back.

This means people were super invested in the issue. And even when they were bad comments, it showed that Snapchat’s audience cares. They want it to succeed, which is why this update was so upsetting to users.

Last time we checked, this isn’t really a bad thing when you think about it. The next step will be to see how well or not well Snapchat responds.

2. We starting to think about celebrity influence over popular opinion and brand awareness.

And just how far it stretches.

We’re not going to open the can of worms that is determining your allegiances – or lack thereof – to the Kardashian family (that’s another post for another time).

But, as informed audiences, we should be aware of two things:

Firstly, it’s probably a gross overstatement to say that Kylie Jenner single-handedly took down Snapchat with a tweet. Snap had its own issues before she made her statement.

Secondly, just as our own opinions, celebrity feelings ebb and flow. They have reach for sure. But reach isn’t the same thing as expertise.

Obviously, it’s not news that celebrities are sought after for their endorsements. It’s that powerful reach that brands lust after, because it gets eyeballs (for a period of time) and carries the weight of a name with it.

However, there’s a flurry of emotion with this whole Snapchat kerfuffle. Meaning people get swept up in the moment. Not to discredit people’s feelings (as we also agree that Snap’s update is quite a stretch from what people were used to), but we also think that with time this may all quiet down and even out.

Stocks go up and down all the time. Celebrities endorse item “A” one day and then item “B” the next. It’s a balancing act really.

People go where people are talking. This doesn’t mean that celebrity influence is the be all and end all. Also, by next week you’re probably going to be used to the change anyway.

3. Last week revealed where Snapchat is not doing so well, but also revealed where it has awesome potential.

Let’s all be honest, Instagram is kind of pummeling Snapchat. The former has over double the daily users and 500 million more monthly users than the latter.

And then when Instagram introduced Stories, the gap widened. Thus began the idea that Snapchat just isn’t resonating with its core audience anymore.

While this could be seen as highly problematic, it doesn’t have to totally be a glass half empty kind of situation.

Think of it this way: by finding out what’s NOT working, Snapchat can focus on what IS working. This will be a crucial time for the brand. What differentiates it to audiences? What makes the core fans loyal? Is it its strength in VR?

Whatever it is, Snapchat has an awesome opportunity to figure out how it can really hone in on its user base and develop its features that appeal the most.

As Jay Baer says, hug your haters. They’re the ones who will give you the most crystal clear view of your brand and product because they’ll approach things from the perspective that is not your own.

Will Snapchat seize the moment? We hope so. But for now, we wait.

Ultimately, people are guided by feelings and passions. Snapchat is something that taps into that realm for some, hence the strong reaction to its update. We’re going to take the step to say Snapchat isn’t dead. But only if it can figure out to listen and evolve.

At the end of the day, people engage with content by lending their minutes. Content is successful when its battery is fully charged with attention.

What will win this week?

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