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The Kylie Jenner effect: when a brand builder becomes a brand assassin

They have been called a fad, a bubble, a waste of money. But love them or hate them, influencers are the buzzwords on every marketer’s lips.

In recent years, influencer marketing has quickly grown. And there are credible reasons for that — influencers have become one of the most tangible communication points of a brand with their consumers.

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However, following last Thursday’s tweet by Kylie Jenner, American reality TV star and one of social media’s most prominent influencers, questions about the role of social media influencers and how badly they can hurt a brand’s image remain largely unanswered.

The tweet, “sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad,” not only attracted outrage on social media, it also sank shares of Snap Inc by over 6 percent and wiped out $1.3 billion in market value.

Later, she added, “Still love you tho snap.” However, the damage had already been done.

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Aside from the latest Kylie Jenner episode, there are various instances in the recent past that show influencer marketing has done more harm than good to a brand. Many a time, a good influencer campaign backfired when put in the wrong context.

This brings us to a host of crucial questions: are social influencers brand builders or brand assassins? Has influencer marketing lost track? Or, last but not least, did social media overreact to Jenner’s tweet?

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Some experts, however, see this as nothing to do with influencer relations and everything to do with a brand needing to pay attention to public opinion.

Lauren Brush, Senior Communications Consultant, Active DMC, says: “Since the Snapchat update took place, users took to their other social media networks to express their disappointment – and they were not quiet about it!”

“In fact,” she adds: “They even started a petition, grabbing over 340,00 signatures. Snapchat has issued statements, but backs its decision for the update saying users will come to find it smarter and easier to use – instead of finding a solution. They got what they deserved in my opinion.”

Jenner’s tweet was just one example of the weeks-long user backlash about Snapchat’s newly-launched app.

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According to a report by CNN, the app previously featured content from friends, publishers and celebrities on one page.

Currently, however, there is only a single page for publishers and another for friends.

“While the recent redesign of its flagship app could produce positive long-term benefits, the significant jump in negative app reviews since the redesign … could result in a decline in users and user engagement,”  Citi analyst Mark May was quoted as saying in the report.