Social@Ogilvy Briefing: Yik Yak


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Over the past few years, we've seen anonymous social media slowly gain a foothold among young millennials and older centennials in the United States.

Yik Yak is arguably the hottest social network platform to take over high school and college campuses, boasting 1.7 million monthly users. Essentially an anonymous virtual bulletin board, those logged into Yik Yak can read the yaks of anyone within a 1.5 radius of them.

Learn more about the platform and the implications for brands in this presentation.

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Social@Ogilvy Briefing: Yik Yak

  1. Yik Yak Briefing: Yik Yak, an anonymous, location-based mobile chat app MARCH 2015
  2. 2 Yik Yak What is it? Yik Yak is an anonymous, location-based mobile chat app. Launched in Fall 2013, the app is primarily known for its use on both high school and college campuses across the U.S. Users typically post general, witty yaks that are subject to the “upvote” or “downvote” of their peers. Users may also respond to yaks with anonymous comments. The most popular yaks rise to the top of the stream. Why is this a game changer? Yik Yak is powerful due to its hyper-local targeting capabilities. Its “Peek” feature also allows you to view conversation happening at different college campuses and special events all over the world. “Peek” allows users to check- in on what’s happening at Coachella, at different campuses during March Madness, and more! At the same time, the app is highly controversial due to its association with anonymous online bullying among its young user base. It also has served as a platform for students to publicize school shooting and bomb threats. Sources: Business Insider. “How 2 Georgia Fraternity Brothers created Yik Yak.” GigaOm. “Yik Yak’s Growth Flatlined After Funding. But Why?” It’s all about being sarcastic and brutally honest. Basically, people post and say things that we’re all thinking but are too afraid to say in public. They’re hilarious, but when people post serious stuff – such as being depressed – or even just having school spirit, the Yik Yak family is there for you.” “ ” Business Insider, 2015 1.7 million monthly users 1.5 miles is the radius of all yaks
  3. 3 Yik Yak Why is it popular? Yik Yak taps into the notion of ephemeral anonymity, a trend that is seeing increasing traction among younger audiences. Couple that with short-form content and mobile, and you have a recipe for success with millennials. The popularity of apps in this category indicate that younger users are looking for ways to interact and connect that feel less permanent or tainted by social status. Sources: New York Times. “Entering the Era of Private and Semi-Anonymous Apps.”
  4. 4 Widespread cyberbullying has forced many high schools to ban Yik Yak on school grounds. •  As a result, its founders conceded that “high schoolers may not have the emotional maturity to use the app as intended.” •  Therefore, Yik Yak has built geofences that run in the background, disabling access to the app within defined geographic borders (such as school grounds). •  Despite these efforts, Yik Yak’s user anonymity has brought about bullying and threats of violence, hurting not just its users, but the platform’s image. Supporters of the app argue that with the negativity comes positive moments when the app has shined. For example, students have rallied around one another during tragic times, such as the school shooting at Florida State University in 2014. Students at both FSU and the University of Florida updated each other on the status of the school and provided emotional support for one another. Why is this an issue? Analysts warn that if Yik Yak is not able to curb its users (and the negative publicity), the app may lose the support of its investors. Yik Yak What’s the controversy? Yik Yak’s anonymous messaging boards are like bathroom stalls without toilets. They’re useless, they’re sources of unhelpful or harmful conversations, and they’re a complete eyesore. “ ” The Huffington Post, 2014 Sources: Huffington Post, “Why Your College Campus Should Ban Yik Yak.” Business Insider. “How 2 Georgia Fraternity Brothers created Yik Yak.” Buzz Feed. “How Two Rival Schools Became One in the Midst of Tragedy.”
  5. 5 Yik Yak Brands have been hesitant to use Yik Yak due to its lack of analytics and association with violence and bullying. However, Yik Yak developers have expressed intentions to open the platform to advertisers in the future, turning its large user base into a viable revenue stream. In fact, those permissions have already been built into the privacy policy, which currently informs users that their information may be used “to display advertising, including advertising that is targeted to you based on your location, as well as your Yik Yak activities.” When brands join Yik Yak, we anticipate they will capitalize on the app’s hyper- local targeting to engage young audiences on-the-go. There is also an opportunity to integrate Yik Yak into brands’ listening programs, where consumers may feel more compelled to speak honestly about brands. What does it mean for brands? Sources: Likeable, “Yik Yak in 2015.” Ad Week, “Anonymous Apps like Whisper and Secret Have a Dark Side.” Brands aren’t on Yik Yak yet, but that doesn’t mean they’re not using other anonymous platforms. Hulu used Whisper to promote the premiere of its series, Deadbeat. Why? They believed in the content and storytelling on the platform, as users are already whispering about their favorite television shows and movies.
  6. 6 Thanks. Questions? Thoughts? Megan Garafola, Account Supervisor – Digital Strategist Learn more on the Social@Ogilvy blog: