Not many businesses could recover from seeing $1.3 billion wiped off their stock market values--especially when their competitors have been increasingly making life difficult.
Right now, that's Snapchat--and whether it'll recover after Kylie Jenner's damning tweet about its interface redesign remains to be seen. When Jenner expressed her dislike to her 24.5 million Twitter followers, Snapchat shares sank like stones--and over one million people have petitioned for the interface to revert to its previous design.
In reality, the share price was probably most adversely affected by Citigroup's downgrading of Snapchat's stock from "neutral" to "sell" on February 20th. Snapchat has since done its best to encourage users to keep the faith, but damage has certainly been done to the brand by the public and high-profile criticism.
Snapchat had a tough enough year in 2017, and would have been hoping for a good start to 2018, but Jenner's remarks will only have been music to Instagram's ears.
But what can we, as small and medium-sized business owners, learn from the situation at Snapchat? These three lessons:
1. Ask your audience, and listen to their answers.
Businesses have to evolve, that's inevitable, and it's good practice. But Snapchat chose revolution rather than evolution and crucially appears not to have consulted with some of its more high profile users before introducing significant changes.
If you were thinking of introducing a new product or service you would naturally carry out research and see if it's going to be popular, right? The same needs to be true if you are thinking of making a change, no matter how small, to your established products or services.
Ask those that are using your stuff whether the change you've got in mind is necessary and likely to be welcomed, or whether you risk turning them off and having them go elsewhere. They will likely have insight and ideas that will far outreach those of you and your team. Consult with users regularly to make refinements incisive and intelligent.
2. Influencer marketing isn't easy.
Word of mouth is still a hugely powerful marketing tool. We all like to hear a recommendation from a friend or colleague when looking for a great restaurant, a new car or whatever it may be.
Influencer marketing has taken that to another level. Influencers are often celebrities or media professionals with huge followers on social media, and their opinions can make or break a product or brand.
In the last couple of years, there's been a lot of encouragement from marketers for businesses to secure the support of influencers to help them reach a wider audience. Especially for start-ups and smaller businesses, having an influencer talk about their products or services on their social media channels has been touted as a great way to give a huge boost to brand awareness.
What we've seen with Snapchat and Kylie Jenner is the other side of the influencer coin. Having a high-profile user isn't a golden ticket. Instead, it's a relationship that has to be very carefully managed so that both parties get the best out of it.
Snapchat should have consulted with users like Jenner ahead of the changes they made. Finding an influencer can be fairly straightforward. Maintaining the benefit an influencer brings is tricky,
3. Think global but act local.
Rather than having a celebrity influencer, small and medium-sized businesses can be better served by amplifying the opinions of their staff and genuine customers.
Those people have their own followers and friends that they can positively influence for you. At the small business level, such opinions will carry much more weight with your target audience than celebrity endorsements which are increasingly discredited and falling on deaf ears.
Focus on building a community that shares your values and values what you share. I'm not saying you shouldn't think big and be working to grow your business beyond the confines of your own city or country. But let that growth happen via the support and nurturing of a community that will, in turn, tell their community all the good things that you offer.
Share great content. Demonstrate your values, culture and authenticity. And keep listening.