Last week, it looked like Snap finally turned a corner.
After several lousy quarters, the messaging giant said it added more users than expected at the end of 2017. In the words of Forrester analyst Jessica Liu, its annual revenue growth of 72% “caught Wall Street by surprise.”
Yet, just days later, Snap seems to have found itself back in the doghouse.
At issue is Snapchat’s recent redesign. Among other changes, the new interface divides the app into two sections -- one side for friends’ posts, and the other for professional media. To say that people dislike the updated app is an understatement.
In one illustrative remark, singer Charlie Jones asked his Twitter followers: “What did we as humans do to deserve such a horrible update?”
Led by a host of celebs from Chrissy Teigen to Kylie Jenner, and their millions of social media followers, Snap is now facing a full-scale revolt. A petition on Change.org to “Remove the new Snapchat update” is fast approaching 1 million signatures.
For many young uses, Snap's redesign crossed a line by interrupted many of their “streaks.”
For the uninitiated, Snapchat friends can achieve “Snapstreaks” after snapping each other within a 24-hour span for more than three consecutive days. This earns users a coveted flaming emoji, which many treasure like virtual gold.
It might sound silly, but young users take streaks seriously. Streaks are also one of the few features that are still unique to Snapchat. While Instagram and other rivals have stolen nearly every other Snapchat service, streaks set the platform apart.
In response, a growing chorus of users is calling for a boycott. “I am asking that you stand with me and boycott @Snapchat until the give everyone their old snap chat back,” tweeted Jonica “Blu” Booth of “Bad Girls Club” fame.
Why did Snap feel the need to mess with what many users considered to be good thing?
Before its actual launch, CEO Evan Spiegel said the redesign was a reaction to negative trends in the social media space, like the spreading of “fake news” and inauthentic self presentation.
“While blurring the lines between professional content creators and your friends has been an interesting Internet experiment, it has also produced some strange side effects (like fake news) and made us feel like we have to perform for our friends rather than just express ourselves,” Spiegel said last year.
But, the division of content never sat well with analysts.
“It runs counter to why Snapchat was appealing to its younger demographic in the first place,” Forrester’s Liu told Digital News Daily last week. “I worry it will alienate that existing user base because they’re now trying to cater to the masses (and Wall Street).”
At least for the moment, Liu appears to be right.