When a Platform Update Launch Goes Wrong: Lessons Learned from Snapchat’s Stumble

by Belfort Group | Consumer , Thought Leadership
March 15, 2018


Here we go again! Another social media platform update, another uproar, and this time it’s Snapchat.

With a public protest reminiscent of the Facebook protest of 08’, the question is has Snapchat lost touch with the needs and wants of its users? This situation is the perfect example of how the consumer experience is imperative to success and can never be taken for granted.

Snapchat’s most recent update places increased importance on sponsored brand content, implementing a new one swipe system. Unfortunately, consumers are not on board with suddenly seeing so many ads. The one swipe solution for sponsored brand content means friends’ stories, chats, and individual snaps are squished onto one page- making the app harder to use. Regular users aren’t the only people challenging Snapchat. Kylie Jenner, famed Snapchat aficionado, has officially denounced the app. On Twitter Jenner shared her dissatisfaction with the update and as a result, Snapchat’s stock dropped 7 percent the next day.

This social media uproar has disappointed consumers and influencers alike. At this stage in the update process, the company will need to listen to its users wants and implement changes that reflect user sentiments.

Understanding audience preferences is essential for marketing. Other brands can learn from Snapchat’s misstep by understanding the value of listening to what consumers really want.

Based on BG’s expertise in successfully launching new products, consider the three steps to ensure your next product update delights customers:

1. Use focus groups or online consumer research

While you might already have an idea of how to overhaul your old system or product, using focus groups in the early stages of the process can give you valuable insight into the potential consumer reaction. Really listen to target customer feedback and ideas. Companies can do this in person—or effectively online.  Your existing customers will give you excellent feedback and might even be the source of your next big idea or media story.

2. Overhaul for consumers, not just revenue

If the main purpose of changing your system is to increase profitability, you need to keep the user experience top of mind. If the update disappoints, eventually your consumers will feel “sold out” and either leave or be less engaged- and brands won’t want to advertise on a platform with no users. Just as if your product quality goes down to cut costs, your customers might no longer want to buy it. Think of ways to preserve a good user experience in your new product, test the update or stagger your changes to see how people react before implementing a system-wide rollout.

3. Be prepared for backlash with a crisis communications plan

When launching a new platform or product, the goal is to secure positive reviews. But this doesn’t always happen. Knowing how and when to react to bad reviews is important to retain your customer base. Having a crisis management plan in place that anticipates problems and provides messaging for all eventualities is critical to success.

If you don’t have a crisis management plan, contact a qualified professional to help you build one.

Remember, it doesn’t matter what we think as marketers or shareholders. It matters what our customers think. Perhaps if Snapchat had followed the above three steps, their platform update would have generated more followers and less negative publicity.

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