Comparing Yik Yak to the Early Days of Facebook

It seems like just yesterday I was introduced to The Facebook. As soon as I saw the layout and the “opportunity” to connect with other college students I knew The Facebook had a chance to get big very fast. As a college student I longed for the opportunity to communicate with friends on a website rather than just through AIM or ICQ. While AIM served the purpose there was no way to “view more” about another student. These were the days when “stalking” on the Internet was truly impossible.

The Facebook offered students, with a .edu email address, an opportunity to create a profile and only communicate with other students on their campus. This type of exclusivity made it much more comfortable for younger individuals, especially females, to post status updates. Those that are old enough will remember the status update was Facebook. There were no games, apps or ads. Heck, there wasn’t even a messenger or page option. This type of exclusivity made all high school students long for the days when they could get their first Facebook page.

It is now 10 years later and there is a new exclusive social media application – Yik Yak. While Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and other social networks have gained in popularity there is no true exclusivity. Social media website companies have no desire to be exclusive because they want as many users as possible. The larger the user base the more money they can make on advertising. What they do not realize is the fact that anyone can use the network makes it much less appealing. Look at Google Plus. This is a social network that is not appealing to college students because it is full of social media experts, SEO gurus and some downright weird folks. Why would students want to hang out at a bar where the 50 year old single creeper is drinking?

Why Yik Yak Can Be Exclusive in 2014

Yik Yak is an anonymous location based bulletin board app. Let me repeat, it is location based. If you are sitting at home in Arden, North Carolina you will not be able to engage with those on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In fact, if you are 10 miles west of campus near Chapel Hill High School you will not be able to engage with UNC students on Yik Yak. This is the type of exclusivity that will make students use Yik Yak even more. I have noticed it quite a bit over the last several weeks.

yik-yak-facebook

Students are more than willing to post funny yaks about campus, their roommates or sporting events. This two to three mile radius means the exclusivity is location based. Unless mom and dad come and live in your dorm room you are not going to have to worry about them seeing your Yaks. When you compound this with the fact that the app is anonymous you have a full fledged viral phenomenon in the making. I said it before and I will say it again, the exclusivity and anonymity will allow Yik Yak to spread like wildfire on college campuses. We are already seeing it on the Auburn University and UNC campuses.

How is Yik Yak Different From Twitter?

There is a huge different in Yik Yak and Twitter – anonymity. Those that are posting on Twitter are posting with a name and a face beside each Tweet. Some of the most successful Twitter accounts are the parody and anonymous accounts. The creators of Yik Yak saw this as an opportunity. Now, these accounts on Twitter are no longer as interesting as Yik Yak is the no holds barred way to say what you are feeling.

Are you sick and tired of your roommate snoring? Post it to Yik Yak. Are you really attracted to girls with dark hair and blue eyes? Blast away on Yik Yak. Do you have a dirty joke that most of your conservative friends will not like? Yak that thing and get some Yakarma. When you share on Yik Yak only the closest 500 people will see it so there is a high likelihood they will get the joke much more than someone that lives 1000 miles away.

One of my biggest struggles with Twitter is I will post something about UNC and over 50% of my followers are not in the area. Something that would be hilarious to my UNC friends doesn’t even relate to someone that is in Los Angeles or Chicago. The virality of most social media posts starts locally. One of the reasons Facebook does so well is because most of the people that initially share a piece of content are the IRL (in real life) friends of content creator.

With Yik Yak you won’t know if your friend(s) upped the post but you will know they are local. On Yik Yak you are friends with the 500 people closest to you. This reminds me so much of the early days of The Facebook. When you could only add those with .edu addresses at your school the number of friends was limited. It was not the case that people had 1000s of friends on Facebook. In fact, I can clearly remember the first time one of my friends broke 100 friends and it was a huge milestone. This was pre Twitter days and “followers” were not a thing.

Will Yik Yak Take Users From Facebook?

The quick answer is no. Facebook users are not leaving because Facebook is the new White Pages. What Yik Yak will do is it will take time away from users that used to sit on Facebook. Freshmen and Sophomores at UNC are spending hours and hours on Yik Yak laughing at each other’s updates. This used to happen on Facebook and it does not anymore. In fact, one of the most popular Yaks yesterday was an underclassman talking about how he was glad he no longer updated his Facebook with status updates. This has been a trend for quite some time. Many parents, especially mothers, will update their Facebook page but the younger generation would rather update Twitter and now Yik Yak.

If Yik Yak continues to gain in popularity, as I predict it will, it will take users off of Twitter. I don’t think Internet users will quit Facebook or Twitter altogether but they will start to use it less. This happened when Facebook became more popular than MySpace. I don’t expect the exact same thing to happen but most college students will admit that Yik Yak is much funnier and more enjoyable than the same old bland Facebook.

Are you using Yik Yak? Do you think it will take college students off Twitter and Facebook?


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[…] It seems like just yesterday I was introduced to The Facebook. As soon as I saw the layout and the “opportunity” to connect with other college students I knew The Facebook had a chance to get big very fast. As a college student I longed for the opportunity to communicate with friends on a website rather than just through AIM or ICQ. While AIM served the purpose there was no way to “view more” about another student. These were the days when “stalking” on the Internet was truly impossible. The Facebook offered students, with a .edu email address, an… Read more »