Snapchat and the Story of Predictable Questions

Erik Bernstein crisis management Leave a Comment

There’s no excuse to not come prepared for easily anticipated issues

Snapchat certainly holds a spot as a darling of the social media world, but that doesn’t mean it’s immune to controversy. One of the most popular features of Snapchat are the various “lens” filters users can apply, which put on funny overlays, distort images, and otherwise allow people to have a bit of fun with a selfie. It’s that very same popularity, though, that creates issue when the lenses become offensive.

Just months after creating public outcry over releasing a Bob Marley lens that was accused of essentially simulating blackface, Snapchat released another that had people wondering if there is a cultural issue at the social platform. Check it out:

In the face of mounting outrage Snapchat pulled the plug on the lens, and in communications with The Verge explained that its inspiration came from anime and was “meant to be playful”.

The potential for offense with the lens seems obvious, and the fact that it went unnoticed has brought up the issue of diversity at Snapchat. Critics are picking at the fact that Snapchat has chosen not to follow other social media companies in releasing hard figures on diversity, and although this type of attention isn’t likely to scare away many of the millennials who make up the platform’s core audience it is the type of thing that comes on the radar of brands who are choosing where to focus effort and spend money.

Despite repeated questioning Snapchat hasn’t managed to get a message together that satisfies anyone who’s asking. CEO Evan Spiegel’s much-publicized answer from last year’s Re/code conference of, “I should have exact percentages for you but we just don’t think about diversity in terms of numbers that way,” pretty much sums up the theme they’ve gone with thus far.

Predict and prepare

It’s not that any one answer is “right”, it’s that you need to have an answer that makes sense to your stakeholders, and that they believe.

At this point the question of diversity is a predictable one. Every organization has questions that are, as a result of their very nature, predictable. Then there are some that become predictable once a topic gains traction. You may be blindsided by a question once in a while (although if you stay on top of your research you shouldn’t be surprised by much), but there’s really no excuse to not have a slam-dunk answer when the second or third round of questioning comes around.

The BCM Blogging Team

Leave a Reply