What Startups Can Learn From The Snapchat Redesign
Updated: Sep 17
Snapchat’s redesign has caused quite the uproar. After years of hearing feedback that the app has been notoriously hard to navigate, founder and CEO Evan Spiegel acknowledged a redesign of the app on a November 2017 earnings call: "One thing that we have heard over the years is that Snapchat is difficult to understand or hard to use, and our team has been working on responding to this feedback. As a result, we are currently redesigning our application to make it easier to use.”
As Snap looked to expand beyond their user base and bring in more advertising revenue, the redesign had the opposite effect. The app fell to a 1.8 rating on the app store and a Change.org petition named "Remove the new Snapchat update" gathered over 1.2 million signatures. And, in one day, there was a market drop of 7.2%, wiping out $1.3 billion in market value — most pointing to Kylie Jenner’s tweet "Sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me ... ugh this is so sad" as the leading factor.
This volatility is a solid case study for startups so that they don’t face similar challenges as their products mature.
Listen To Your Customers
Snapchatters are a passionate demographic. Daily active users spend thirty-three minutes a day on the app. After the redesign, they were very vocal about the changes.
A tweet posted right after the update showcased a fake conversation with Snapchat saying they would change back to the original layout if the tweet got 50,000 retweets. The tweet was retweeted almost 1.5 million times and became the 6th most retweeted tweet of all time.
This viral tweet highlights how imperative it is for startups to remember that customers come first and are the reason for success. To keep your customers calm, have a crisis communications plan in place for these situations. This way you can mitigate negative sentiments. This could include replying back to the tweets or having an official statement sent to press or posted on social media channels.
In the case of Snapchat, they released a statement acknowledging the Change.org petition which included, "We hear you, and appreciate that you took the time to let us know how you feel. We completely understand the new Snapchat has felt uncomfortable for many.”
Make sure to always listen to user’s concerns and have them feel valued through strong communication and swift action. Snapchat illustrated how startups and entrepreneurs need to move forward in tough decisions and make users feedback an integral part of their product release plan.
Provide Value For Brands And Influencers From The Start
Discoverability on Snapchat has always been a pain point for brands and influencers. With the redesign, Snapchat is hoping that more brand and influencer content will be created on the platform, as their stories are now featured alongside Discover content.
Mike Platco, a Snapchat influencer, who has worked with large brands and media including NBC Universal for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Marriott Hotels, T-Mobile, and ABC Family for Pretty Little Liars is a fan of the redesign, “I like that popular stories are being featured, adding a level of discoverability to the platform for creators. Snapchat also released a new ‘Insights’ dashboard for creators and popular accounts that show a magnitude more data about our following and engagement. I’m confident this will get more brands and creators back on the Snapchat bandwagon.”
Carmen Collins, Social Media Lead of the well-received WeAreCisco Snapchat account agrees, “In the past week, we’ve seen our peak unique views go up. Our completion rate has been outstanding.”
As brands and influencers secure new users and increase advertising revenue, startups need to remember the importance of building positive relationships and providing product features such as robust analytics and ease of discoverability from the beginning. Being able to build community and gain followers through being easily discovered on the platform is core for power users. This way brands and influencers will promote the channel and continue to bring their creativity and community to the platform.
Don’t Alienate Your Core Users
Finding product market fit relies heavily on capturing the correct target market. In the case of Snapchat, they were able to scale and succeed by tapping into the Millennial and Gen Z generation, who embraced ephemeral storytelling and disappearing messages — leading to the ever most important Snapstreaks.
Millennial founder, Andrew Lee, of Buy Custom Geofilters, explains the importance of Snapstreaks and how the redesign has affected them, “A Snapstreak starts when two users both send snaps to each other every day. It’s quite a bit of work to do so. Because of that, a
Snapstreak has become a status symbol on the platform. However, with the update, Snapchat displayed stories on an algorithmic feed versus displaying them by most recently added. This new update matters to Snapchat users significantly. Why? Because it’s now harder to find your friends on Snapchat in the busy feed of stories that Snapchat’s algorithm is now showing you.”
This change has shifted users over to Instagram. Maybelline even led a poll on Twitter asking their followers if they should stick to Snapchat or move more of their efforts to Instagram: “Our @Snapchat views have dropped dramatically and we want to stay connected to you all. We're not sure if this is the platform to do it anymore, unfortunately.
Should Maybelline stay on Snapchat?” Before the tweet was deleted, there were over 6,000 votes heavily in favor of Instagram.
As competition is fierce, it is a good reminder for startups to delight their core user base always. Keep platforms intuitive when making product updates and get feedback from focus groups and core users before making large changes that could affect long-term growth. There are many tools like usertesting.com or usability hub that places prototype designs in front of potential customers. By testing updates before they are released to the masses, startups can glean insights into if it will be a success or not.
Lessons To Take Away
For startups, the Snapchat redesign highlights the importance of listening to community, keeping brands and influencers engaged, and focusing on the core user-base for growth. In doing so, product updates will be appreciated by users and lead to increased use and customer satisfaction.