A Non-Anonymous Guide to the World of Anonymous Social Apps

What things to keep in mind when building an anonymous app? And what’s about diverse tips and tricks?

You may think that there are not so many people using anonymous apps. After all, social applications are not only about communicating with other users, but also attracting attention with the content, aren’t they?

Well, not really.

In September 2013, Pew Research Center reported that 86% of Internet users tried to remove their digital footprints, while 55% did their best to avoid observation by certain persons or organizations. The same document says that 13% of users have had problems with the family or friends because of the content they posted.

Later, in September 2017, The Wall Street Journal issued a report saying that Sarahah, an anonymous messaging app, has reached 95 million users. This number is impressive, and it proves that anonymous apps are not leaning back. Obviously, they will never replace, for instance, Facebook, but they allow users express their thoughts and keep their identity in secret at the same time.

Why People Need Anonymous Social Apps

  • Apps like Sarahah, Whisper, Psst! Anonymous, and others are a true salvation when users want to avoid advertisers, employers, certain people, and hackers;
  • Anonymous apps are a perfect choice in case there is a need to make a confession, talk to strangers or even laugh at other users’ problems. Yes, a special app called FML allows sharing even the weirdest problems without revealing your identity;
  • The reputation of 6% of the Internet users was seriously affected because of something that happened online. What’s much worse, 4% of users faced physical danger (thank you, Pew Research Center!). They could avoid these situations with the help of anonymous apps; Chart
  • Besides, using such an application users can always ask for an unbiased recommendation.

Are Anonymous Social Apps Really Anonymous?

Obviously, the user’s posts remain anonymous to other users, but this doesn’t mean that they can hide from the whole world. For example, if you visit the website of Whisper, you will see the entire page devoted to law enforcement.

Remember that every gadget connected to the Internet has its own identification number which can be used by authorities if they need to find the owner. So, confessions and messages are confidential, but only to other users, and law enforcement agencies are not among them.

“When someone is anonymous, it opens the door to all kinds of antisocial behavior, as seen by the Ku Klux Klan.”—Philip Zimbardo, an American psychologist

But, this “disadvantage” also has a bright side. People use anonymous apps not only when they want to talk to strangers - some of them also use such applications for discussing illegal topics. In the worst cases, usage of anonymous apps may lead to… death. According to NoBullying.com, 7 teenagers committed suicide because of cyberbullying on Ask.fm, a pretty popular app which allows asking any questions anonymously.

Things to Consider When Developing an Anonymous Social App

Choose the type of an app

Just like non-anonymous social apps, anonymous ones can be divided into two categories: chats and media platforms. Chats are only about sending messages (usually, encrypted), while media platforms also allow sharing content. The latter option is the best choice in case you want to attract a wider audience.

To log in or not to log in?

Here we have two more categories of anonymous apps: login and non-login. Certain apps still require users to log in - it can be a password, a random name and a password, or even a phone number which is used in case they want to see posts of their friends. The phone number feature and, as a result, an opportunity to follow friends, usually inspire users to use an app more often and spend there more time. Regarding non-login apps, you can track your users by creating an ID for each of them. Creating a special token for every gadget is one more option.

Ensure the security

We are not talking about law enforcement agencies now, but hiding the user’s information from other users is your direct responsibility. These types of data are considered to be the most valuable, so pay special attention to them: the content of messages and emails, contacts, downloads, and location.

Don’t forget about the monetization strategy

Clearly, the first thing which comes to mind is making your app not free, but paid. Logical, but you can go further. For instance, you can add a digital gifting feature. Through in-app purchases, users can buy special gifts and give them to each other - you will earn some extra money, and they will have some fun. This is a win-win situation. Paid stickers are one more option. Users love stickers, as they allow them to express their feelings even without the text. You can also go for advertising, but you should be very careful with this strategy - some users choose anonymous apps because they want to avoid ads.

Tips and Tricks

Find your target audience

Don’t create an app for everyone - narrow your focus down and make it special. For instance, what’s about people with phobias? Users having something in common will find your application more useful than those ones who don’t.

Do your best to reduce cyberbullying

Let your users mark inappropriate posts. Develop an algorithm or even hire a special moderation team to detect and delete abusive content. Implement geofencing and limit the number of your app’s users. All these actions are not a panacea, but they will definitely help to prevent cyberbullying.

Let the content disappear

Content which disappears after a certain amount of time can make your app even more anonymous than it was before. It can also make your creation more secure.

When an Anonymous App Can Fail

We can’t give you a guarantee that your app will succeed. But we can tell you about Yik Yak, one of the most popular apps of this kind. It was closed in 2017, and the failure happened due to several reasons. Firstly, this app was notorious for numerous cyberbullying issues. Secondly, its monetization strategy was absolutely unclear. Thirdly, this app started as something like Twitter, and then turned into a dating app, and this attempt to pivot was not successful.

Saying that your app is the most anonymous and secure app ever released can also result in troubles. This doesn’t only sound like a perfect text for a boring ad - such a phrase can also attract the attention of hackers. And what will happen in case these guys prove that your app leaves much to be desired in terms of security? Sure, your project will fail.

However, you already know what things to keep in mind and what traps to avoid, so we believe that you will do everything right. Welcome to the world of anonymous social apps, and good luck with developing one of them!

11 Apr 2018
Anastasia Lushyna / Business Development Expert
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