Ad Industry, Business, News Jan 13, 2014

Why Snapchat Had No Choice But to Apologize

Snapchat, the app that allows you to view images for seconds before they disappear, turned down a $3 billion buyout from Facebook last fall (despite the fact that they have absolutely no revenue). Now they might be kicking themselves.

They made a big mistake.

They messed up. They goofed. The company that’s built entirely on a promise of privacy for photos and phone numbers got hacked on New Year’s Eve. 4.6 million panicked users later, they had a PR nightmare on their hands.

Getting hacked is pretty awful, but most people realize, a company never wants that outcome, it just happens.

The real issue: Snapchat didn’t address the situation appropriately. In fact, users felt that initially, Snapchat accepted shutterstock_132591887none of the responsibility.

It took about a week, and after the CEO failed to apologize on the Today show, the company finally apologized in a blog post. “We are sorry for any problems this issue may have caused you and we really appreciate your patience and support.”

Thanks Snapchat. But is it too little too late?

 Your behavior in times of crisis reaches further than your customers, it impacts your investors too. Especially potential investors that have been watching Snapchat pretty carefully since the billion-dollar turndown.

When a major flop like this happens, we say, admit it, and make your customers feel like their feelings matter. It’s not about who’s at fault; it’s about how you approach the situation and its solution.

Pride can be very flattering, but arrogance doesn’t look great on anyone. Your job is to make sure your product delivers on its promise. If you fall short on delivery, it might be wise to bring in some pros.

What’s the lesson?

The takeaway from all of this is that Snapchat could learn a thing or two about being honest, upfront and apologetic to their customers.

They could even take a page from Lululemon, who faced a potential PR disaster last year when they failed to address an unfortunate situation of see-through yoga pants properly. Their stock plummeted, and they promptly apologized, fixed the issue and, now, they are back on track.

It turns out, transparency can be a good thing.

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