Only recently did the most popular social media platform among teens, Snapchat, completely change the design of their app. Needless to say, the update has sparked outrage and controversy among its users about how difficult it is to use. For those who are up to date, Snapchat split their app into two sections: one for socializing and the other for media and advertisement purposes. The update is the biggest change to come to the app since 2011, and users are upset, confused, and angry at the sudden modification.
Senior Erica Dakahl, a student here at St. Cloud State University, expressed her thoughts on how inconvenient the app is currently, ” I did not like it [the app] mostly because it was confusing for users,” said Dakahl.
The marketing major also voices how the company is going against what is normal for most corporations and businesses by making this change.
“What they’re doing is going against marketing and the mindset of it. Marketing is for the consumer and in order to do that correctly, you play by what the consumer wants, but they [Snapchat] are completely doing the opposite.”
The company quickly responded to consumer’s concerns and had said that the new design was set to make both parties happy and to extend to a broader demographic.
“This was a much-needed redesign for Snap as the complexity and nature of the app were shunning older demographics and a major issue for advertisers, which remain the golden goose for the company,” said Daniel Ives, chief strategy officer and head of technology research at GBH Insights.
However, this sort of progression for social media platforms being more advertisement based and less user-oriented has been happening for a while. Some examples include in 2011 when Facebook would advertise what the user’s friends liked on their screens and in 2015 when Instagram added advertisements to be seen while scrolling the user’s feed. The only difference is that Snapchat faced this progression head-on unlike others such as Facebook and Instagram who made the transition more subtle.
The advertising industry serves as the primary source of funding and income for social media sites. Because the majority of these sites and apps are free for users, advertisers and sponsors are what these companies rely on in order to make money and circulation present. So, even though the change was sudden, it is no surprise that Snapchat had modified their app to separate the social from the business.
It should also be noted that whenever an update occurs on any social media site, no matter how big or small, users are distraught about the change. This is because of how accustomed they may have grown to the app, and anything that disrupts their comfort causes unease and confusion. Things as small as Twitter’s number of characters being extended to something as big as Facebook’s transition into using Facebook messenger for chats still received negative feedback almost immediately.
At the end of all of these changes, however, it’s to wonder at what cost is Snapchat facing making this drastic change to their app? As a result, there is a petition started out to convince Snapchat to revert back to their original format, but it doesn’t stop there. On the Apple App Store, it shows over 83 percent of the reviews of the update are perceived as negative and unsatisfied. It has gotten so far that some users are considering boycotting the app completely.
However, such as when Vine was removed completely from the market in 2017, users were outraged by Twitter who owned Vine and threatened to boycott and leave immediately. When the time had passed through the amount of Twitter users which had started at 327 million followers, had actually grown to 330 million followers in the fourth quarter of 2017.
So, at the end of the day, how does this affect Snapchat financially? Recently in the stock market, the company had reached their peak on Feb. 7th at 27.5 when the update had just hit devices everywhere. However, after the backlash, in the past week, that number had dropped down to as low as 18.63 in price.
Although, on statista.com shows that in the Fall of 2017 Snapchat is the most preferred form of social media among teens (sitting at 47 percent) in the United States from ages 13-18 (their largest demographic). Other competitors such as Instagram (24 percent) and Facebook (9 percent) are not meeting up to their standards. The real question being: Will this new update really convince Snapchat’s 150 million daily users (from Forbes.com) to stop using the app completely?
The answer is no, and it’s because of one of Snapchat’s most notorious features: the snap streak. For those who are not familiar with this, a “snap streak” occurs when two users snap pictures to each other and after 3 days, the app shows how many days in a row they can get to without letting it disappear.
For those who have a life, this may sound a little ridiculous that a feature such as this one can keep loyal users even due to major dissatisfaction. However, to a lot of Snapchat’s main demographic (teens and early 20-year-olds) the streaks can be a very serious part of their lives. Friendships and even relationships have been tainted or ruined by letting one of these disappear.
Although this strategy is manipulative, it’s a genius way Snapchat has maintained as many loyal users as they currently have.
For other social media sites, they recognize that they do not have such an attribute to keep customers and users around, so their advertisements are a little more subtle and out of the way compared to Snapchat’s. As for their preference for the new coming generation of technology users, their preference of Snapchat over anything else is apparent, and this may affect other platform’s number of users for the future.
At the end of the day, even though the update had started a wave of anger and disappointment, there is no belief that Snapchat or Snap Inc. will take a large hit to how many people use their app in the near future. It’s still free, it’s still available on mobile devices, and they have their genius ways of keeping these users around. Although this may be a problem now, just like any other change to social media, this phase will pass all of us and soon everyone will be used to the new changes and keep their snap streaks well and alive for years to come.
Bethanie is a junior at St. Cloud State and is a mathematics education major with minors in mass communications and special education. This year, she is the Managing Editor for the University Chronicle, a director for in house productions at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center and a math tutor. She enjoys writing, rock concerts, and serving her community and fellow students.