Online Reputation Management: What Can We Learn From Snapchat?

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Cast your mind back a few years or even a few months and Snapchat was the app to have. Offering a fun way to share quick snaps and videos with friends, Snapchat has amassed an average of 187 million daily users — but a series of poor decisions and negative press coverage has made things difficult for the app.

In this blog post, we discuss the key events that got everyone talking about Snapchat and what we can learn in terms of online reputation management (ORM).

The unwelcome update

In January 2018, Snapchat released a new update that they believed would make the app appeal more to a mainstream audience. The changes saw stories feature on a single Friends page, as well as a new Discover section, which houses content from brands, social media stars and news outlets.

What was rolled out with the best intention was met with a serious backlash from Snapchat users. They took in their masses to app stores to leave negative reviews and complained across social media, with some even ditching the app altogether in favour of Instagram’s new Stories feature, which works in a similar way to Snapchat and is arguably more advanced with text alignment. A petition was even created to reverse the new update, which as of 27th March 2018, has amassed over 1,256,000 signatures.

What we learnt: The negative response to the update underlines the importance of user testing to establish how users interact with a site or app. Findings can then be used to establish how to improve the site based on what users want to see.

What’s good to see is that Snapchat has responded to the petition, outlining how they will rectify the issue through further updates and refinements. By responding, Snapchat has regained an element of control.

The celebrity cull

As an app, Snapchat sits firmly within the realm of popular culture. 77% of UK Snapchat users are aged between 18 and 24 and as such, it can be said that this younger demographic is more influenced by celebrity culture than other age groups.

In the wake of the new Snapchat update, Kylie Jenner sent a tweet to her 24.5 million Twitter followers that said:

“sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad.”

The tweet showed the influence Jenner has, and caused Snapchat to lose $1.3 billion (£1 billion) from its stock market value. Interestingly, despite her tweet, Jenner returned to Snapchat in the weeks following to release the first face-on photo of her child Stormi. This has led to some gossip websites speculating whether Jenner was paid to share the content on the platform first, although this is a claim that Snapchat have labelled ‘completely false’.

What we learnt: The impact that one social post can have can be huge. For your brand, it’s incredibly important to monitor social channels to understand the discussion around your brand and give yourself an opportunity to resolve issues before they spiral and cause greater damage to your reputation.

The offensive advertising

Rounding up Snapchat’s recent run of poor form is a poorly chosen advert which featured on the app to promote mobile game, Would You Rather?

The controversial ad featured an image of Chris Brown and Rihanna and asked users if they would rather ‘slap Rihanna’ or ‘punch Chris Brown’. The ad was accused of making light of domestic violence (DV), of which Chris Brown was convicted of in 2009 for assaulting Rihanna.

Rihanna posted a response to the ad on her Instagram account, which stated:

“Now SNAPCHAT I know you already know you ain’t my fav app out there! But I’m just trying to figure out what the point was with this mess! I’d love to call it ignorance but I know you ain’t that dumb. You spent money to animate something that would intentionally bring shame to DV victims and made a joke of it.”

Finishing her statement, Rihanna added: “You let us down! Shame on you. Throw the whole app-oligy away.”

Following the ad and Rihanna’s statement, Snapchat lost almost $800 million from the company’s market value. Snapchat has released a statement in response, apologising for the decision:

“This advertisement is disgusting and never should have appeared on our service. We are so sorry we made the terrible mistake of allowing it through our review process. We are investigating how that happened so that we can make sure it never happens again.”

However, despite issuing an apology, Snapchat are still facing implications following the advert. A host of users have ditched the app, while many high-profile celebrities have vocalised their disapproval. Most recently, Chrissy Teigan announced she had deleted the app, which could be why stocks traded lower than usual on Monday 26th March.

What we learnt: Brands will make mistakes but for a company with as much exposure and influence as Snapchat, regulations should be tight in order to avoid issues like this arising. What we can take from this is how important checking and double-checking your campaigns are to ensure they don’t cause any offense.

Likewise, should an incident like this occur, you need to have a strategy in place to effectively handle the issue, from releasing a response to promoting positive content to essentially act as a neutraliser.

For help with your PR & Reputation Management and creating a strategy for safeguarding, speak to Mediaworks today. Call us on +44 (0) 330 108 4263, or contact us using the form below.


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