Why Yik Yak is a Network to Watch in 2015


By Honey Comer

The past few weeks have been big for Yik Yak, the controversial messaging app sweeping colleges across the country. While it earned a reputation in its first year as a forum for anonymous cyber-bullying, a recent valuation of up to $400 million has many taking fresh notice. Even social media powerhouses like Twitter seem to be looking to mimic the location specific functionality, presumably an indication that it’s taking the competition seriously.

So what exactly is Yik Yak, and should brands be taking it seriously now too? Here’s a crash course for the uninitiated, along with some reasons the platform just may be worth watching in 2015.

The Basics

Yik Yak, like several other predecessors in the space, is the brainchild of two recent college graduates looking for new and relevant ways to connect. The app allows users to post and view text-only “yaks” within a 10 mile radius, and to do so anonymously. Users also have the option to “peek” into other locations feeds, but can only post to their own location. “Up votes” and “down votes” give the community an opportunity to respond to what they see. Five down votes will get a post removed all together.

The Advantages

Beyond anonymity, Yik Yak offers the unique advantage of being hyper-local, increasing the odds that yaks will be relevant to viewers—and there are many viewers. While Yik Yak has been holding the latest numbers close, reports placed usage at around 100,000 monthly active users within just three months of launch. In the spring, it became one of the top ten most downloaded social media applications in the United States.

The Disadvantages

From a marketer’s perspective, there isn’t much meat to Yik Yak just yet. A lack of analytics functionality coupled with seemingly on-going controversy leaves brands understandably hesitant to jump on board. 

What’s Next

The developers of Yik Yak have expressed intentions to open the platform to advertisers in the future, turning the 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.”

While we wait to see how this feature evolves, expect some early adopters to start “party crashing” local yaks. A group of professors at Colgate University did something similar recently, filling the campus feed with positive messages during finals week. Although the stunt confused some at first, it was well received overall.

Do you see any potential for brands and Yik Yak? Share your thoughts in the comments below!