As you may be aware – well, as you’re no doubt fully aware if you’re a regular Snapchat user – Snap Inc. recently rolled out their new, re-designed layout which is intended to boost the app’s primary use case.
Initial feedback on the new Snapchat was not great – TechCrunch reported that early reviews of the revised layout, which was first rolled out to users in the U.K., Australia, and Canada, were poor, with 83% of App Store reviews considered negative. More recently, Snap rolled out the update to U.S. users also. And the response has been overwhelmingly poor.
First, there was the viral tweet which suggested Snapchat would change back to the original layout if it got 50k re-tweets.
The Snapchat update sucks. RT to save a life! pic.twitter.com/5JHLeNmtDW— Isaac Svobodny (@isaacsvobodny) February 9, 2018
As you can see, the tweet has actually received more than 1.4 million retweets at the time of writing, making it the sixth most retweeted tweet of all time.
There’s also a Change.org petition calling on Snap Inc. to reverse the update.
That now has more than 830k signatures. Considering the app has a total of 187 million users, it seems like a lot of them are not happy with the change.
Worse still, as reported by The Daily Beast, some celebrities have been tweeting their disapproval also.
Mm just saw the new Snapchat.. I don’t know how i feel about it! What do you guys think?— Kylie Jenner (@KylieJenner) February 9, 2018
I’m seeing this same comment so often. I liked that you guys felt like we were friends. I’m sad it doesn’t feel like that anymore. How many people have to hate an update for it to be reconsidered? https://t.co/PI7OAf9Qlg— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) February 9, 2018
HOW TO FIX SNAPCHAT UPDATE; delete the app, open instagram.— Casey Neistat (@CaseyNeistat) February 8, 2018
For an app that’s built its presence largely on cool factor, that can’t be good, and Teigan, in particular, poses an interesting question – what would it take for Snapchat to consider reversing course?
Some have already taken to complex hacks to try and bring the old Snapchat back (which, reportedly, kind of work). Others have been lamenting the change in functionality, which has left them confused, and thus, has seen many a teen lose their valued Snap streaks. That might seem like a trivial concern, but as has been reported many times, Snap streaks are a big deal to teen users – the very audience where Snapchat sees the most traction.
None of this sounds particularly good for Snapchat, which just posted its best quarterly performance report to date – which included an increase of 8.9 million daily active users.
Of course, every change in functionality on social platforms sees a level of backlash – remember when Twitter was 'dead' (#RIPTwitter) because they were considering, at that time, introducing an algorithm-defined timeline? As we know now, nothing has really changed.
But then again, there’s no ‘other’ Twitter to use, there’s nothing that quite matches the Twitter process. But in Snapchat’s case, there is Instagram. There is Messenger. Neither are the same, of course, neither has the same level of cool cache, and migrating across to another platform means also migrating all of your friend networks too, which is difficult. But with Instagram now up to 300 million users of its Stories option, and introducing new, Snapchat-like features every day, it seems a risky bet for Snap to push ahead.
But then again, reversing course is not as simple as it may seem either.
As noted, one of the main motivators behind Snapchat’s new update is boosting the app’s primary use-case – which is clearly messaging - and enabling more ad opportunities within those spaces to further expand the app’s monetization potential. Switching back may mean an entire re-think on this front, and would make it much more difficult to continue its forward momentum on revenue growth.
What’s more likely is that Snap will let the backlash simmer down, then see where they’re at. That approach has worked for other updates, and will likely work again here, but the collateral damage could be significant, and will be something to watch carefully in the app’s future performance numbers.
Snapchat will be hoping that this is a small step backwards in order to make a larger advance forward. We’ll see how it actually plays out.