Watch the following video, in which Snap CEO Evan Spiegel [1] talks about the Snapchat update, then read on below and follow the instructions to complete the exercise.

Snapchat case study

In 2017, Snap, the parent organisation of Snapchat, went public [2] and nine months later, CEO Evan Spiegel, announced that Snapchat would undergo a significant redesign. Among the many changes, the redesign entailed separating celebrity content from one’s friends and close connections. It also entailed several updates to make the app easier to use.

However, Snapchat users did not receive the changes well and so, after continued and growing criticism, Snapchat eventually rolled back some of the updates. This redesign cost Snapchat many of its customers and Snapchat has since seen a steady decline in customers.

In response to the product’s alleged redesign failure, Spiegel acknowledged that users were frustrated over the updates and revealed that the design felt rushed. [2] While the update solved one problem, it subsequently created many others. He further acknowledged that the product improvement plan was also complicated by the fact that Snap had gone public. In other words, going public had meant more stakeholders to manage, align, and get buy-in from. Since the redesign, many of Snap’s executive-level employees, such as its chief strategy officer, left after the public disapproval of the redesign.

However, Spiegel claims that ‘innovation really is about taking risks. It’s about doing things that are different’. [2] He explains that this thinking is encouraged at Snap so that employees can take risks each day and not feel at risk of being judged. He goes on to say that they make time for employees to connect in small groups and share their ideas. Through this type of thinking and these practices, Snap makes continuous improvements over time.

Instructions: Key lessons from Snapchat

  1. Post a brief reflective paragraph in the discussion below that answers the following question: What key lessons can we take away from this real-world example? Make sure you cover topics such as:
    • What mistakes did Snapchat make with regards to its product improvements?
    • How should communication have been handled?

References

  1. The New Snapchat in 60 Seconds [Video]. Snapchat; 2017 Nov 30. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nx1R-eHSkfM
  2. Yurieff K. Snapchat always proved critics wrong. Then Evan Spiegel pushed for a redesign – CNN [Article]. Edition; 2019. Available from: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/03/10/tech/snap-ceo-evan-spiegel-profile/index.html

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48 thoughts on “5.13 Practical activity 6: (Product Mgt Course) Learning from Snapchat’s failure

  1. 1) the first mistake I can see is that snapchat didn’t much pay attention to their customer feedback which led them to create things they feel is good for the users but in reality wasn’t.
    2) I feel they would have informed their customers first of the update,make videos to explain how the updates work and also allow users rate their product functionalities to figure out on what to update.
    No proper communication between the developing team and stakeholders.

  2. Snapchat made several mistakes with its product improvements, including rushing the redesign without sufficient user testing and feedback. Communication should have been more transparent and inclusive of user input throughout the redesign process to avoid alienating users. This example emphasizes the importance of user feedback, thorough testing, and transparent communication in product development.

  3. Key Lessons and Mistakes

    Snapchat’s most important mistake was not understanding user needs and preferences sufficiently. The redesign lost a core functionality (separating friends’ content) that disrupted established usage patterns.

    Rushed Execution: there was inadequate planning and testing before rolling out the new product.
    Overestimating user adoption rate: People generally dislike sudden changes to familiar platforms.
    All of the above were complicated by going public and focusing more on shareholder satisfaction, forgetting the user satisfaction.

    How Communication Could Have Been Handled Differently

    Snapchat could have communicated the need for updates and the problems they aimed to solve.
    Used beta testing or focus groups to involve users, gather feedback, and refine changes iteratively.
    Anticipating and Addressing Backlash: A well-thought-out communication strategy should have:
    Prepared for potential negative reactions and outlined how user concerns would be addressed.
    Used communication channels like blog posts, FAQs, video tutorials to explain the rationale behind the changes and clarify the new features.
    Snapchat should have acknowledged user frustration, shown empathy, and assured them that their voices were being heard and signaled that some rollbacks were possible based on the user feedback, demonstrating adaptability.

  4. The snapchat story is ine that can be classified as an innocent mistake. even though the innovation felt like it was going to solve user’s problem of separating “social” from “media”, the PM did not conduct enough consumer survey to dtermine how this idea seats with them. it could have been done with several variety of user to see their reaction and see if there is a need to roll out this update to the public.
    most importantly, while rolling out this new redesign, beta testing was not properly carried out on the new app to see if the app hasn’t developed bugs while the redesign was happening.
    a small set of audience should have been handpicked to test the app for any abnormality and to get their feedbacks.

  5. Even though people welcomed Snapchat’s innovations at first, there are important lessons to be learned from the way they handled product updates. The disconnect between user needs and internal priorities is one important lesson to learn. As evidenced by Snapchat’s dwindling user base, concentrating on features like “Snap Map” or revamping the main layout without enough user input can cause alienation and confusion. Furthermore, disregarding user input and pressing through with unpopular changes increases annoyance and damages credibility.

    Navigating product evolution requires effective communication.
    Openness and concise communication are crucial. Consider phased rollouts and beta testing as an alternative to sudden changes, letting people adjust and offer feedback. Additionally, actively listening to user concerns and responding to them quickly shows deference and promotes a feeling of community. Recall that effective product enhancement is a team effort rather than an order. It is possible to make sure that product evolution builds rather than breaks the relationship with the very consumers that a product is meant to serve by putting the requirements of the user first, encouraging open communication, and learning from mistakes.

  6. snapchat didn’t put consideration to their customers feedback and there was no good communication among the management team

  7. The following are key lessons we can take away from the Snapchat’s launch failure:
    First, the company went public without considering how this can impact the decision making process of the company. This was a major contributing factor to the failure that followed.
    Second, the redesign project was not well researched. The product’s subsequent rejection by the customers proved they were not well informed and carried along with the project. Also, when a redesign is so extreme that a product doesn’t feel the same to the customer, a considerable share of the market may be lost as was the case in this regard.
    Third, the response time to customer’s feedback was too slow – it took them too long a time to roll back the updates. The company shouldn’t have lost this much of her customers if response and effective changes were quick and apt.
    Lastly, communication with customers was not well conducted. Customers should have been carried along every point and so know what to expect from the redesign. But it looked like they were ambushed and the shock could not be contained and resulted in outright rejection of the product.

  8. I believe the mistake Snapchat made in product improvement is lack of proper communication. It’s essential that your users understand the value of the product before the it’s launched or improved on.

  9. In my Opinion, Snapchat didn’t utilize appropriate feedback mechanism before launching the update. Snapchat overlooked the role of its user. A product improvement must be customer-centric and not just the choice of the company/organization.

  10. One key lesson from Snapchat’s experience is the importance of balancing innovation with user feedback and transparent communication should have been taken seriously with its users

  11. Snapchat changes is too sudden and drastic, changed would be been gradual process.
    Snapchat would have bring up their suggestions on online forum to get the opinion of their customers.
    Customer interview, survey and focus group would be the basis of their feedback

  12. Snap chat neglected the role of customer feedback and that resulted to the backlash and loss of customers they had. they didn’t pay attention to what the customers want rather they did what they perceive the customer wants, and all so did not incorporate the feedback in other to improve it the way the customers may want it to be.

    Communication: the idea of the change in the snap chat should have been told to the stakeholders first and the team in order to seen their reaction then probably a prototype or a soft launch of these new features would have be put in place in order to also get immediate and in-depth info for the customers about the new update.

  13. For me, Snap made a hasty decision without getting enough customer Feedback. They also failed to make good use of analytics which would have helped in their decision taking.

  14. The mistake Snap made was not effectively seeking feedbacks from its customers on what value is necessary to base its product updates before adopting.

    Snap should have adopted methods like SOCIAL MONITORING AND Analytics, online forums, Survey, interviews ,CUSTOMERS support and sales etc , to elicit and analyze feedbacks that would have led to valued product improvements.

  15. Feedback and review from customers or users is very important and needs to use to improve futher but snap didn’t take all this into consideration.

  16. In my own view Snapchat PM team didn’t utilize the the feedback tool after going public to determine if the upcoming plans for a redesign and feature will resonate well with their users.
    I think they should have communicated slowly to ensure not all user had access to the new update in other to get positive or negative in other to determine the next step.

  17. My view is that snapchat product management team didn’t utilize appropriate feedback mechanism and customer data analysis before going public.
    Before any product improvement project is announced to the public or customers,it must be informed by a feedback from the customers regarding such adjustment. It must be customer-centric and not just the choice of the company/organization.

  18. The mistake was misreading user preferences, ignoring feedback, or introducing features that don’t resonate with the user base.

  19. Thou i don’t use Snapchat. when we think we have just started with a particular update, it’s gone in a blink of an eye. Also, as much as snapchat is fun, it has some features that were not well curated. Snapchat doesn’t have any secret at all and that’s not so nice.

  20. Snapchat launches updates anyhow. when we think we have just started with a particular update, it’s gone in a blink of an eye. Also, as much as snapchat is fun, it has some features that were not well curated. Snapchat doesn’t have any secret at all and that’s not so nice.

  21. Snap chat didn’t bother to wait for customers feedback which is core in knowing if to launch a new product or work judiciously on the current one. Rather they hastily launched a new product at the wrong timing when the previous one is not having positive response from customers/clients.

  22. Snapchat’s product management faced several challenges that contributed to its setbacks. Firstly, the company often rolled out updates without adequately gauging user feedback, leading to frequent backlash over changes that users didn’t find appealing or intuitive. Additionally, Snapchat struggled with balancing innovation and user experience, sometimes introducing features that were too complex or poorly integrated. Clear communication with users about upcoming changes and soliciting their input could have mitigated some of these issues. By fostering a transparent dialogue with the community, Snapchat could have better understood user needs and preferences, leading to more successful product iterations and improved user satisfaction.

  23. Snapchat, instead of waiting a little longer while getting customers’ genuine feedback before it’s newly update is released to the general public. They bothered less and they hurriedly sent out the newly designed app and this resulted into a backlash and loss of customers.

    They need to put into use, effective communication especially. Customers’ feedback, investors feedback and a test run.

  24. Snapchat’s mistake was in rushing the redesign without adequately considering user feedback and preferences, resulting in a backlash and loss of customers.
    Secondly, effective communication is crucial, especially during times of change, and Snapchat did not that that into consideration.

  25. Snapchat didn’t seek and put into consideration the customer feedbacks before making the changes in the app.
    There’s also lack of communication amongst the product management team; also lack of communication between the PM and the stakeholders this is seen from the eesignation of its executive employees

  26. One of Snapchat’s mistake was not taking into consideration customers’ feedback before taking action. Just as we have learnt in the previous lesson, feedback is the breakfast of champions.

  27. Snapchat didn’t oay attention to user or customer feedback.

    Could have explained every step they take to the stakeholders. Let the users k ow every change they made

  28. The lessons learned from Snapchat are:
    Firstly, Snapchat changed the app design without properly considering user feedback. This resulted in confusing and less user friendly experience.
    Secondly, Snapchat didn’t communicate the reasons behind the changes to their users, which led to frustration.
    Communication should have been handled if they were more transparent in explaining the upcoming changes to users. They could have involved users in the decision making process and listened to their feedback.

  29. Snap did not take cognizance of the feedback from their users before investing on a new product
    Snap were too abrupt and hasty in the introduction of the new features
    Snap did not communicate effectively with the users on this new features
    None of the Feedback mechanism was used by Snap for guidance
    No Survey was conducted
    The Build-Measure Learn Process was ignored
    For such adjustment to take place, A customer Feedback Loop should have been employed.

    Communication would have been better handled by engaging the Team and Stakeholders from the planning phase which would have effectively resulted in cascading such information to the majority of the users

    The use of Marketing funnel as a tool after launch should have been employed in order to track the behaviuoral pattern of the product among the users just for a feedback purposes.

    The Continuous Improvement metric such as the Success metric to track the success of the product was not employed, Hence the failure.

    Thanks

  30. Snapchat were prompt with the changes they made on the app. It seems like they disregarded users feedback and went ahead with what they felt was “users need”.
    The communication to the public regarding the change could have been better and more publicised.
    Snapchat is an app that users use almost everyday ,so If a user signed out of the app this night and signs in back tomorrow to see that their snap views have been disordered, they’ll get confused and discouraged

  31. What mistakes did Snapchat make with regards to its product improvements?
    Snapchat underwent a major redesign aimed at simplifying the app’s interface and making it more user-friendly. However, the redesign was met with significant backlash from users, with many complaining about the confusing layout and the difficulty in finding their friends’ stories. There was separation between social and media. This resulted in a loss of users and a drop in engagement, prompting Snapchat to make adjustments to the redesign.

    How should communication have been handled?
    Snapchat should have been transparent about the reasons behind the redesign and the goals it aimed to achieve. By communicating openly with users about the changes and the rationale behind them, Snapchat could have managed expectations better and potentially mitigated the backlash.

  32. Lesson learnt about snapchat fails to plan and also carry their stakeholders along in other to adjust to the existing design they are about to introduce to the market.
    Snapchat also fails to communicate to their users online in other for them to get acquainted to the new design, they also fails to get feedback from the users without reaching the targeted audience.

  33. The issue was that Snapchat were prompt with the changes they made on the app. It seems like they disregarded users feedback and went ahead with what they felt was “users need”.
    The communication to the public regarding the change could have been better and more publicised.
    Snapchat is an app that users use almost everyday ,so If a user signed out of the app this night and signs in back tomorrow to see that their snap views have been disordered, they’ll get confused and discouraged

    1. Lessons learnt from Snapchat is the that while they were been innovative they didn’t carry their stakeholders along in other to be prepared about the update.
      Secondly, Snapchat didn’t create an enabling environment for their stakeholders to give feedback on improvement, this drove customer away and futher enabled by their poor publication of their update.

  34. Lessons learnt is that Snapchat did not use the BUILD, MEASURE, LEARN learn process in implementing the changes, by this I mean that after integrating the idea adding it to it product, they should have measured how their customers responded to these changes through feedbacks and also learned from the feedback and gradually added the most important features for the upgrades.

    I also learned that Snapchat had poor conflict management among the stakeholders, by launching the product without early communication of product changes to his team. This turned out to solve one problem while increasing many other problems to the team.

    Snapchat could have gradually added the changes instead of rushing these changes.

  35. Lessons learnt is that Snapchat did not use the BUILD, MEASURE, LEARN learn process in implementing the changes, by this I mean that after integrating the idea adding it to it product, they should have measured how their customers responded to these changes through feedbacks and

  36. The lesson learned is that Snapchat did not inform their users about the changes they made on time
    The changes was prompt which make users to loose focus on their familiarity with their products, hence dropping their interest of their users with their products.

  37. The lessons learned are as follows;
    1. The change was supposed to be a gradual process but it was rather prompt which didnt give users the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the product,
    2. There was no clear communication to the users as to what to expect
    3. the didn’t care much about customer feedback which made them take decisions without first getting a feedback from the users,
    4. There was also lack of proper communication between the team members or probably their suggestions or opinions were not considered.
    The failure could have been avoided if there were adequate communication within the team members as well as with the user.

  38. The case of Snapchat’s redesign offers several key lessons for product development and communication strategies. Firstly, it underscores the importance of thoroughly understanding user preferences and behaviors before implementing significant changes. Snapchat’s mistake was in rushing the redesign without adequately gauging user sentiment, leading to backlash and a decline in user numbers. Secondly, effective communication is essential, especially during times of change. Snapchat could have mitigated some of the negative reactions by transparently communicating the rationale behind the redesign and involving users in the process through feedback loops. Thirdly, the example highlights the challenges of managing stakeholder expectations, particularly in a publicly traded company. Balancing the demands of shareholders with user needs can be complex, requiring careful navigation and alignment of priorities.

  39. Chinazor mbagwu.
    The lessons from snapchat is their redesign ignored user feedback which is very crucial. They did a complete change,instead of making the changes gradually. These lessons are a result of rheir mistakes which are,
    A. They ignored user feedback
    B. Abrupt and radical changes
    C. Poor communication
    D. Inadequate testing
    E. Neglecting user behavior
    F. Exclusion of key stakeholders
    G. Assuming quick user adaptation.
    Communication should have been handled if ,
    1. There was transparent communication
    2. Advance notice and explanation of new redesign.
    3. User involvement in decision making
    4. Better testing and user trials.
    5. Feedback channels would ve been introduced, to enable listening and responding promptly.

  40. -Users were frustrated because the change was prompt, thereby not giving them enough time
    to learn about the new features of the app, just like spiegel revealed “the design felt rushed”

    -failures like this would be avoided if employees were given opportunities to share ideas.

  41. Below are most of the key lessons to learn from Snapchat’s product improvement mistakes:
    – Product changes should be aligned with user expectations and needs. Snapchat’s redesign deviated from the user experience that users were familiar with, causing confusion and frustration.
    – It’s important to communicate product changes to users clearly and concisely. Snapchat’s communication of the redesign was confusing and left users feeling disoriented and unsure of how to use the new features.
    – Product changes should be rolled out gradually and tested before being implemented fully. Snapchat’s redesign was rolled out quickly and without adequate testing, resulting in significant user backlash.
    – It’s important to consider the possible financial consequences of product changes. Snapchat’s redesign led to a decline in user engagement and revenue.
    – It’s also very important to listen to user feedback and make adjustments accordingly. Snapchat initially dismissed user complaints about the redesign, but eventually returned some of the old features.

  42. There are several key lessons to take away from Snapchat’s product improvement mistakes:
    – Product changes should be aligned with user expectations and needs. Snapchat’s redesign deviated from the user experience that users were familiar with, causing confusion and frustration.
    – It’s important to communicate product changes to users clearly and concisely. Snapchat’s communication of the redesign was confusing and left users feeling disoriented and unsure of how to use the new features.
    – Product changes should be rolled out gradually and tested before being implemented fully. Snapchat’s redesign was rolled out quickly and without adequate testing, resulting in significant user backlash.
    – It’s important to consider the possible financial consequences of product changes. Snapchat’s redesign led to a decline in user engagement and revenue.
    – In addition, it’s important to listen to user feedback and make adjustments accordingly. Snapchat initially dismissed user complaints about the redesign, but eventually backtracked and returned some of the old features.

  43. 1. going public had meant more stakeholders to manage, align, and get buy-in from. They could have role put the changes first before going public.
    2. ‘innovation really is about taking risks. It’s about doing things that are different’ and they make time for employees to connect in small groups and share their ideas