Study: Snapchat sees precipitous drop in millennial user sentiment
- Snap's controversial redesign of image-sharing app Snapchat may have erased about two years of positive feelings toward the app among millennial users, a YouGov study found. Snapchat started testing its app redesign in 2017 before a full rollout in February that triggered many negative reactions on social media.
- The researcher's "impression score," which measures whether consumers have a positive or negative opinion of a brand, fell 73% from a high of 30 in late January to a low of 8 in early April among U.S. adults ages 18-34. The decline put Snapchat back to its score from early 2016. YouGov's impression score ranges from -100 to 100 with a zero score equaling a neutral sentiment. A score of 8 means that 8% more people said they feel more positive than negative about the brand.
- Snapchat on May 10 launched an update to iPhone users that reverts some features back to what they were before the redesign, including putting friends' messages and posts back into chronological order and separating shared stories from one-to-one chats, per The Financial Times. The update still maintains some separation between photos and videos shared widely by friends, and stories from professional publishers, influencers and brands. Stories now appear in the app's Discover section under three categories: friends, subscriptions and "for you," which displays recommended content based on a users' viewing habits.
Snap is experiencing public growing pains as it seeks to build an advertising business amid daunting competition from search giant Google and established social media companies like Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram.
YouGov's survey supports anecdotal evidence that Snapchat's redesign damaged the brand, prompting an additional revamp this week. Parent company Snap had sought to expand its user base by separating conversations with friends from posts by media companies and public figures. The change backfired, as reality star Kylie Jenner shared her disappointment with her 24.5 million Twitter followers and inadvertently caused $1.3 billion of Snap's stock-market value to drop in just one afternoon. A petition on Change.org received 1.3 million signatures asking the company to revert back to its old format.
Though the change aimed to make the app easier to use, it clearly alienated a core group of fans with a clunkier user interface. Satisfaction surrounding the app has dropped significantly, and the buzz around Snapchat also is dying out, with fewer millennials talking about the app with friends and family. Only 25% of U.S. adults ages 18-34 said they have discussed Snapchat in the past two weeks, a drop from 35% in January.
At the same time, the results aren't all bad for Snapchat, particularly with its ability to target younger demographic groups sought by many advertisers. About one quarter (26%) of millennials said they use Snapchat at least once a day, compared with 3% of people ages 35 and older. Still, Snapchat needs to boost its user base to grow revenue and become profitable after a tumultuous first year since going public. The app's user base grew 15% to 191 million in Q1 2018 from 166 million a year earlier, but missed the average analyst estimate of 194.3 million, per Bloomberg. Snap estimated that revenue gains will "decelerate substantially" in the current quarter from Q1 2018, as the company shifts ad sales to programmatic systems that can handle ad placements through digital auctions.