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Snapchat Needs To Get It Together Or Risk Becoming A Ghost

Snapchat’s new update has triggered a wave of backlash from Kylie Jenner to Maybelline–and all of us regular users in between.

Snapchat Needs To Get It Together Or Risk Becoming A Ghost

When Instagram first started taking blatant cues from Snapchat’s success in the form of Instagram Stories, it was easy to feel a little bad for Snap. But the numbers don’t lie–Instagram is far surpassing Snapchat in daily users and, most recently, user experience.

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Snapchat users let it be known in full force that they hate the new interface launched last month. The current edition of the app splits content from friends and content from celebrities and publishers into two separate areas in the app. Users revolted. More than 1.2 million people signed a Change.org petition to remove the update altogether.  And this week, the backlash to Snapchat’s update has extended past us regular users to brands, as well.

On Thursday, cosmetics company Maybelline tweeted a seemingly innocuous poll that ended up encompassing a lot of this battle between Instagram and Snapchat. The since-deleted tweet cited a “dramatic” drop in views on its Snapchat, which is likely due to how the update sequesters brand content from users. It’s like Snapchat is saying that brands aren’t your friends. And while that’s correct on a human relationship level, it’s also blithely ignorant to the ways brands–especially beauty brands–want to reach customers.

It’s unsurprising that Maybelline is concerned about this development. Prior to the update, users could follow it like they would a friend, allowing for more organic, personal interaction–you know, the kind that fosters loyalty and product sales.

Meanwhile, Kylie Jenner, perhaps one of Snapchat’s most popular users, has also spoken out against the update. Last May, I spoke to Jenner about the influence of Snapchat on Kylie Cosmetics. At that time, more than 10 million people were watching her Snapchat makeup tutorials. She referenced the platform multiple times during our interview, and it was clear that Snapchat was important to her ambitions as a businesswoman, which no longer seems to be the case.

She tweeted Thursday that she basically doesn’t open Snapchat anymore–and the effects of that were significant. Although there’s no direct correlation, Snap’s stock dipped 6.1%, or roughly $1.3 billion in market value, after Jenner’s tweet. Not only is she a celebrity, but she’s also Snapchat’s ideal user. And if Snapchat can’t hold onto the very users the platform was made for, what then?

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So far, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel’s response has been at best lackluster, and at worst, totally tone-deaf. At a Goldman Sachs conference last week, Spiegel said, “. . . One of the complaints we got was, ‘Aww . . . I used to feel like this celebrity was my friend, and now they don’t feel like my friend anymore.’ And we’re like, ‘Exactly. They’re not your friend.’ So for us even some of the frustrations we’re seeing really validate those changes.”

That fundamental misunderstanding seems to hint at the fact that Snap doesn’t know its users as well as it thinks it does. Spiegel has basically said that Snapchat users are going to sit down, shut up, and get used to it. But life is short. Why should they have to?

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About the author

P. Claire Dodson is an assistant editor at Fast Company. Follow her on Twitter: @Claire_ifying.

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