In the ever-transforming world of social media, companies are constantly trying to come up with innovative ways to make their products bigger, better and more user-friendly. It is this desire to stay ahead of the game that recently positioned Snapchat at the centre of a PR shit storm, which made their stocks drop and their loyal customers turn their backs. There is a lot that brands can learn from this fiasco, including how they should handle public criticism—but first, some background.
Why Snapchat is in the Spotlight
On February 6, Snapchat rolled out new software updates that claimed to separate the social from the media. They intended for users to connect with the people they care about most—presumably, people you actually know—but users were not impressed, and the consumer commentary has come through thick and fast.
In the days following the release, a petition was launched through change.org to remove the update. Right now, this petition holds 1,250,624 signatures. Think that’s impressive? A fake tweet promising the Snapchat update would be reversed if it received 50,000 retweets went gangbusters, now shared by over 1.5 million people, thereby making it the fifth most retweeted post ever after Ellen Degeneres, Louis Tomlinson, Barack Obama and that guy from Nevada who really just wanted free nuggs.
And then, in the ultimate display of power, Kylie Jenner single-handedly brought Snapchat’s stock down by 6% with a tweet. That’s a loss of $1.3 billion in one day! Oh, to have such power literally at your fingertips.
Yet, despite the public backlash, Snapchat stuck to their guns and refused to reverse the update. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel is adamant that people will get used to the update, stating, “It’ll take time for people to adjust, but for me using it for a couple months I feel way more attached to the service.”
While Snapchat’s future remains to be seen, this whole debacle does raise a lot of interesting ideas about how brand’s should handle constructive feedback. Let’s face it: no matter how hard you try to keep all your customers happy, you are guaranteed to always have a few who disagree with the direction you’re taking the brand. However, rather than dismissing them, it is critical that brands find a way to accept criticism without ‘pulling a Snapchat’ and isolating the very people they rely on for business growth.
What This Can Teach Brands About Consumer Feedback
It’s understood that customers are extremely important to a brand’s success—it doesn’t matter how great your product is if nobody’s buying it. Taking customer criticism in stride, sometimes even seeking it out, is critical to ensure that when your brand hits a bump in the road, your customers have your back.
- Absorb the criticism. Don’t let your ego get the better of you. Don’t ignore feedback and definitely don’t attack those who provide it. Great companies aren’t built by people with thin skins.
- Be genuine. Show through action that you’ve not only heard to your customers, but that you’ve listened them. This might be a cliche, but it’s also incredibly true. Customers need to feel like you care about their opinion—which, you honestly should, as they’re the ones using your product.
- Ask questions. If you have thousands or millions of people asking for change, get them involved. Create a platform on which they can speak directly to you—not only will this limit the number of outside sources they go to to diss your brand, but if consumers feel like they are helping shape a brand’s decisions, they’re more likely to buy into the end result. Something like TheSnapchatUpdate.Sucks could have helped Snapchat better field consumer complaints.
- Take your time. While it’s important to make sure your consumers feel listened to, you don’t want to blindly change your brand’s game plan to appease them. Take time to consider what they’re saying and how the situation really, truly affects your brand. Consider the recent MEC backlash: the outdoor adventure co-op responded to consumer calls for them to cut ties with brands that are owned by a manufacturer of assault-style weapons. They didn’t just buckle under public scrutiny, but instead carefully considered their options before coming out with a diplomatic decision. After all, proper change and growth takes time.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: you are never going to make everyone happy. You are always going to receive customer feedback and it’s not always going to be pretty. What matters is how you engage with it and that you’re actively listening. As any brand who has ever shrivelled into oblivion after taking their customers for granted will tell you, NotListening.Sucks.
Have an idea you want to make sure people listen to? Check out a .SUCKS domain to make sure you’re grabbing their ears and hearts.
Photo Credits: Shutterstock / stockcreations, Shutterstock / mirtmirt, Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images