Snapchat needs to pay attention to the cool kids, and so do you

cool kids

By Mark Schaefer

I saw an interesting snippet on the web this week that provides an essential marketing lesson for our digital age. Whether you’re B2B or B2C, you can’t ignore the cool kids.

Let’s look at what’s going on in the digital marketplace where influencers rule and how you can avoid this pitfall.

The Snapchat fail

Katie Notopoulus did a nice job reporting on a study by the marketing firm Mediakix. The firm studied the behavior of top influencers who are active on both Snapchat and Instagram and found that 12 new media stars are posting 33 percent less to Snapchat and 14 percent more to Instagram Stories over the past year. Here are a few points to consider:

cool kids

Courtesy MediaKix

With a sample size of 12, this is not a statistically valid survey, but I think it’s an interesting data point, and one that Snapchat must heed. History shows that you cannot ignore the cool kids.

Here are a few nuggets from the article which seems to indicate the source of the problem. Why are influencers shying away from Snapchat?

  • “For me, Snapchat has completely fallen off,” said influencer Matt Cutshall. “Their platform has not evolved to make it more user friendly … the only benefit I see using Snapchat is their better filters and ability to face swap.”
  • BuzzFeed reported that Snaphcat influencers were displeased by the company’s lack of support. Frustrations ranged from minor slights, to usability issues like poor technical support, no easy way to share feature suggestions, and Snapchat’s unwillingness to offer influencers analytics they could to share with advertisers.
  • Snapchat had also been slow to verify anyone who wasn’t a traditional public figure like a pop star or pro athlete – it only started verifying influencers a few weeks ago. (Verification helps with discoverability, one of the big challenges for growing a Snapchat audience.)

The cool kids rule

The disenchantment with Snapchat is eerily reminiscent of the early warning signs we saw from other social media platforms that swooned.

  • Despite having millions of passionate users, Google+ ignored input from its top fans. The company seemed to be following an internal development agenda instead of connecting to the needs of their top users. Similarly, the problems that plagued Google Glass could have been uncovered in a 48-hour market test with a few tech experts.
  • Vine had enormous traction with top influencers but it ignored its stars, who eventually decamped to YouTube and Instagram, leaving the platform a ghost town. Twitter, which owned Vine, announced last fall it was shutting down the six-second video–looping platform.
  • Blab took the social media world by storm, offering one of the first user-friendly methods of broadcasting TV-quality interviews over the web. The company worked on expansion plans instead of fixing the issues keeping its best users from succeeding on the channel.

Course corrections

I’m not suggesting that ignoring customer stars was the entire problem, but certainly it is a new day and power users can move the needle like never before. A few people still roll their eyes at the idea of influence marketing but it’s real and it always has been … it’s just on steroids now.

If I were the king of Snapchat, here is what I would do in the wake of this influence drain.

  1. Give myself a raise. Just being honest. I’m so worth it.
  2. After I celebrated my raise with a steak dinner, I would have executive team members call up the influencers. Invite them to the HQ. Involve them in new product design features. FAST!
  3. Develop an easy-to-use dashboard influencers can use with their advertising sponsors. Make this incredibly effective and better than anything Instagram can offer.
  4. Take the dashboard to the next level by showing up-and-coming influencers feedback on how to create better engagement and build a massively-engaged audience.
  5. Be more liberal in awarding verification status to enable discoverability.
  6. Sponsor concerts and events that attract their core audience and provide Snapchat-related prizes.
  7. The only advantage Snapchat seems to have right now is filters. Snapchat needs to be sure they are out-filtering everybody by crowd-sourcing ideas and executing rapidly.

Will Snapchat make it? Who knows? When the platform took off in 2016 and everybody was whoozy about it, I wrote that I was skeptical they could hold off the Facebook megaplex.

However, there is a lesson in this for all of us, whether we have a digital platform, a bake shop, or a bank: Stop being lazy marketers with your head in a dashboard. The customer truth isn’t in a pie chart. The future depends on responding to your best customers … your cool kids.

And if you think you know your customers, check again. And again. The world is changing fast.

Mark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world.  Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.


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