Mobile instant messaging is all the rage at the moment. WhatsApp got bought by Facebook for over 19 billion. Whopping 73% of China´s online population uses WeChat. The amount of Snapchat users has increased over 67% in the last six months.
Next big thing will be anonymous mobile chatting:
1. There is a demand for anonynomous interest-based social networks
Have you ever wondered why discussion forums still thrive in 2014?
Why I was so amped up about Internet was that I could be able to talk about things I was interested (hiphop, basketball and record collecting) with people all around the world. With my friends I can communicate with every possible method, but finding likeminded people around passion points that new Internet start-ups have not tapped into in a while. Since the demise of MySpace, tech industry has been over-obsessed with friend-based networks and neglected the interest-based connections.
2. Content in anonymous mobile apps is more interesting
Majority of Facebook content bores the hell out of people. I know that I am not the only one, who could live without a single photo update about “meat trophies” (baby photos), weddings, travel photos and sport achievements (I am guilty of the latter two). Everyone has a role to play in this world and Facebook is the center of humblebrag. It is filled with people trying to give polished side about themselves. Perfection is not really interesting, but the faults are (something marketers should also realize).
At a brief glance my Secret app is filled with dirty stories (both sexual and scatological) and controversial opinions from people who would not post anything of that sort in Facebook. One glance to FB or Twitter puts me to sleep. Posting with your own name puts automatic self-censorship on and usually people overdo it and they just come up with boring stuff.
Anonymity unleashes the real side of the people. In good and bad ways.
But don´t just take my word for it though, advertisers see potential with these applications as well. Combination of mining of the message content and GPS data could provide interesting advertising possibilities. Traditional media has also taken a heed and they are monitoring these apps to get some juicy secrets (usually false ones).
So how you can get started to post your toilet secrets?
Below I have broken down the four most interesting anonymous messaging apps:
Secret is finally available in Android and that might be the tipping point which will propel it to mainstream success.
Basic promise: Share your secrets freely and anonymously. You can upload short posts and images.
Level of anonymity: You will be given an avatar and you can connect Secret with your contact list or find secrets based on the location. This puts interesting twist to usage of Secret as you automatically start to guess whom of your friends is posting the secrets.
Addictiveness: Content is not as explicit as in Whisper but way more interesting than your average FB and Twitter feeds. There seems to be also a steady stream of meaningful discussions in Secret going on. Usage is intuitive and it is the most advanced of the new generation messaging apps.
Another anonymous social network gaining popularity at the moment, it is more closer to media company as it has editorial staff headed by former Gawker editor Neetzan Zimmerman.
Basic promise: You can post your secrets in the meme-like format where your text is superimposed on a picture. Whisper also allows sending private messages to users and following topics that interest you most.
Level of anonymity: This app is completely anonymous and does not connect with your contact list.
Addictiveness: The app is messy both from content and functions. The complete anonymity unleashes probably the expressiveness of the users. Because of the private messaging function Whisper is used more to hooking up than other its competitors. Because of the editorial aspects of the app, Whisper is more enjoyable for the passive users as posts can get “viral” based on their algorithm.
Yik Yak is taking some cues from other social sites (Reddit) as it is incorporating timeline that consists of purely text updates.
Basic promise: Getting a live feed of what people are saying around you. You can upvote and downvote what is good and what is not. It is mostly targeted to college students.
Level of anonymity: It does not connect to your contact list but connects to your location (everyone in 1.5 mile radius can see the posts)
Addictiveness: Totally related to where you are posting. Being in too crowded area makes content too general but using app where they are no other users feels like having your private party. The look & feel is nicer than Whisper, but not as polished as Secret.
Chance pretty much brings Chatroulette to mobile.
Basic promise: You can chat with random strangers.
Level of anonymity: Your selfie is taken every time you start a new chat and that acts as an avatar.
Addictiveness: As majority of the users are horny single dudes, expect short conversations if you are not hot girl and plenty of x-rated suggestions.
Naturally being anonymous does not necessarily only result to funny light-hearted frivolous chat. Especially Yik Yak has been getting flak as it has been connected to cyberbullying in High Schools.
It is too early to say are these apps just a passing fad or a sign of something bigger. I believe that there is definitely longer-lasting market for these applications. The founder of 4Chan Christopher “moot” Poole put it nicely:
“The industry has spent ten years rushing to capitalize on real identity and friendship based networks and now it´s getting turned on to its head.
Now they are rushing to understand the opposite”