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snapchat influencer marketingRelationships between power users with hundreds of thousands of followers and Snapchat are strained, according to media reports. The influencers complain that Snapchat ignores them. Many have left the platform, or are considering leaving.

Other networks like YouTube and Instagram strive to attract influencers and enthusiastically cater to their needs. They understand that with their large numbers of followers and content creation skills, they attract people and keep them on the network longer.

Snapchat, by contrast, gives influencers a low priority. It’s difficult to work with Snapchat, influencers say. They’re lucky if a Snapchat executive responds to their emails. “You couldn’t find a bigger advocate for Snapchat than me,” Snapchat influencer Michal Platco told the Los Angeles Times. “I made that jump [to a full-time influencer] thinking Snapchat would continue to let me keep doing what I’m doing at least … but they are making it so hard.”

When Snapchat influencer Sarah Peretz said she was considering leaving the platform, a Snapchat executive essentially showed her the door, saying: “Snapchat is an app for friends, not creators.”  She was pleasantly surprised by Instagram’s welcome, Digiday reported.

Why the Disregard?

Snapchat’s disregard, even dislike, of influencers originates from a deliberate business decision. It fears losing authenticity if too many influencers promote brands on the app. Instead, it wants to maintain control over advertising. It prefers that companies pay it directly for advertising rather pay influencers to endorse their products. It wants influencers to use the app like ordinary users.

“I know that Snapchat doesn’t want to lose its transparency or authenticity, but there should be some way for it to be in the influencer marketing game,” Sierra Paller, senior engagement manager for agency Carrot Creative, told Digiday.

Brands May Unfollow Snapchat

Both influencers and marketing agency executives warn that the app is employing a risky strategy. Influencers will take their followers with them to other networks. Brands may also follow. Companies understand they can reach audiences through influencer marketing, through either paid or organic strategies. Influencer marketing can be more effective than advertising since influencer endorsements and mentions are more likely to convince consumers to purchase products.

Faith in advertising may be misplaced: Research from customer acquisition firm Fluent indicates that most users always or often skip Snapchat ads and don’t consume news on the app.

A recent Mediakix analysis revealed that influencers use Instagram Stories 25 percent more often each day than Snapchat Stories. The trend will likely continue, Mediakix predicts. The movement has major implications for the $1 billion dollar Instagram influencer market and influencer marketing as a whole. As users and influencers migrate to Instagram Stories, Mediakix recommends that marketers follow the trend and focus on creating successful Instagram Stories campaigns with influencers.

Snapchat may wither away like Vine, a video-centric network that died after ignoring influencers. “All the creators tried to revive Vine, but they never got support from the platform,” Jason Wong, CEO of digital agency Wonghaus Media, told Digiday.

Snapchat’s Disadvantages

Snapchat has other competitive disadvantages. It lacks the robust measurement reports of Instagram and other networks. Instagram boasts a larger audience, and its search feature is easier to use.

Introduction last August of Instagram Stories, a blatant copy of Snapchat, slowed the Snapchat’s growth. As Instagram aggressively copies it, Snapchat offers few unique features.

Snapchat may wither away like Vine, a video-centric network that died after ignoring influencers. “All the creators tried to revive Vine, but they never got support from the platform,” Jason Wong, CEO of digital agency Wonghaus Media, told Digiday.

The risks of demoralizing and undercutting influencers are significant and clear for Snapchat itself, its investors, advertisers and corporate users/storytellers. The loss of influencers will mean the loss of users or user time on platform, making Snapchat less attractive to advertisers and corporate communicators.

Bottom Line: Snapchat’s indifference to influencers may alter social media marketing strategies. Some experts advise brands to shift influencer marketing efforts from Snapchat to Instagram, its main competitor. If power users emigrate to other platforms, they may take their followers with them — negating the power and value of influencer marketing on Snapchat.