Say what you will about the Kardashian-Jenners, but you can't claim they don't have influence — especially when it comes to social media. The latest example of this has unfolded over the past 24 hours, after one quick tweet from the youngest family member, Kylie Jenner, seems to have led to a $1.3 billion drop in market value for Snap, Inc, Snapchat's parent company.
What did Jenner say in 88 characters that proved so destructive? She doesn't use the app much anymore.
In some ways, this declaration of irrelevancy seemed to have a larger impact than other celebrities have had when deciding to take their social media accounts private or delete them altogether.
"It played into the narrative that people are getting the functionality they want elsewhere which is always a concern when you’re going up against major competitors in a space," Ryan Detert, the CEO of Influential, an AI-powered influencer marketing agency, says. "Because Kylie speaks to Gen Z and Millennials, she has the ability to drive negative sentiment from a large portion of their customer base."
Jenner's statement wasn't revolutionary, but it did validate the frustration and, in same cases, anger, the app's users have expressed since Snapchat rolled out a redesign: A Change.org petition calling on Snapchat to roll back the update gathered over 1.2 million signatures. (According to digital marketing agency Omnicore, Snapchat has 187 million daily active users.)
The redesign, like the recent changes Facebook made to its News Feed algorithm, was intended to make communicating with friends and family easier. Snapchat chose to do this by splitting the app into two sections, one for social (stories and messages from friends) and one for media (any content from brands, publishers, celebrities, and influencers). Facebook's changes meant prioritising posts from friends over ones from A-listers, brands, and publishers.
But as Jenner's tweet demonstrated, celebrity voices still matter in the touch-and-go world of social media. It's the reason new apps trying to make a name for themselves and gain traction on the crowded App Store will align with A-listers. Take the social video app Like, which recently announced a partnership with Bella Thorne, Stranger Things' Noah Schnapp, and Riverdale's Lili Reinhart. When a celebrity does something, many others will probably follow, for better or worse.
While Snapchat shouldn't consider changing the app just because a member of the Calabasas elite has weighed in, the firestorm Jenner's tweet ignited is the same one you'll find elsewhere online, including in comments left on the App Store. It is worth listening to the sentiments the overall user-base is raising, Detert says.
Snapchat has indicated it intends to do so, but don't expect a complete rollback of the redesign. In a response posted to the Change.org petition, Snapchat says it will introduce new tabs on the Friends and Discover sections to "make it easier to find the Stories that you want, when you want them."
It's worth keeping in mind that just because many users express unhappiness with current features, this doesn't mean an app is doomed. There are a lot of factors that go into an app's popularity and success. Consider Instagram as a counterexample: Users may not like that the app's main feed is no longer chronological, but it does not seem to have negatively affected the app's number of monthly users. Although who knows what would happen if Jenner were to voice her opinion there.