It is very likely that you check your phone much more often than you glance at the bulletin boards hung around campus.
Yik Yak co-founders Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington modeled their app as a virtual community bulletin board with more success.
“I had coffee this morning, and I’m feeling a little crazy!” Droll said, as the conference call commenced and introductions were made.
It quickly became clear during the interview that Droll and Buffington both have grandiose personalities, matching the ones that students adopt as they anonymously post their praises and grievances.
Recent graduates of Furman University in North Carolina, Droll and Buffington were best friends in college and have been a collaborative team before Yik Yak’s success.
“We were in school when we started a different app,” they said. “That’s when we realized we loved making apps.”
When Yik Yak began in October 2013, the duo had already graduated, but the two remained in tune with what was happening on college campuses. They felt they knew what needed to change.
According to the creators, he idea of Yik Yak began in response to parody accounts on Twitter and other social media sites that are specific to a campus. Usually, these accounts are run by a select group of people that create all of the content or filter what is posted.
An example would be TroyProbz, which currently has close to 2,500 followers on Twitter.
Droll and Buffington found this style of anonymous posting to be unbalanced. “We thought it was unfair that only a few people on campus had this power,” they explained.
With the goal of placing the power of anonymity back into the hands of the entire campus, Yik Yak was born.
Another advantage they felt Yik Yak has that other social media outlets lack is a broad audience.
Droll and Buffington explained that, with other apps and sites, the users have a limited audience of whoever follows them. This will often lead to only certain cliques and groups on campus reading what is posted.
With Yik Yak, they feel they have created a place where people from all groups can read what is said and hear more about what is going on than just from their friends.
Regarding this idea, the co-founders told a story about a Vanderbilt student whose brother had recently been diagnosed with cancer.
“His last resort was a full body blood transfusion,” they said. “He was trying to see if anyone was a match. He had posted on Facebook and Twitter but he was met with limited response because only the people that follow you see the post so it gets stuck within social groups.
He posted a similar thing on Yik Yak and the first day 1,000 people showed up on his doorstep to see if they could be a match for his brother. It really shows the power that Yik Yak has and how it can break social boundaries and unite a campus.”
They feel that it is these differences that set their app apart from others and have launched its popularity. Currently ranked #12 in the Social Apps category for Android phones, Yik Yak has over 500,000 downloads and is utilized on hundreds of college campuses nationwide.
“Every day is like waking up on Christmas day,” they said.
In response to concerns about the negative and vulgar posts on the app, the co-founders note the filters in place as well as the ability to report posts that are offensive, saying, “The most important thing is how the community polices it. The bigger and more diverse it is, the better the community becomes.”