Insights & News

Are Anonymous Social Networks The Next Big Thing For Brands?

If you could share your secrets or deep thoughts with the world completely anonymously, would you? The two newest kids to the social media block, Whisper and Secret, are betting on it.

Be yourself with anonymous social networks

Secret and Whisper operate off a similar premise: It can be hard to be you, and to have truly authentic conversations*, when your name is attached to your content.

As social media has gone mainstream, many feel authentic content that was once omnipresent has largely been replaced with positively promotional posts from brands and individuals alike. This carefully crafted positivity generally leaves out real life ups and downs, thereby creating an online ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ environment. It is believed that from a behavioral prospective, anonymity often brings truth.

How do these networks work?

Secret: The quality of posts is largely a result of the quality of your contacts.

When you sign on, Secret scans your phone numbers. Anyone in your contacts, or anyone who has your number in their contacts appears as a “friend.” People who are two degrees separated appear as “Friend of Friend.” These are the secrets you can comment on. You can see posts that go beyond your two degrees, but you cannot comment on them. While Secret does have access to your contacts, all posts are encrypted, which means even Secret doesn’t know which secrets are yours.

Whisper: The quality of posts is a result of what is being shared the moment you log in.

When you sign in, you’re assigned a nickname, and you choose a password so only you can see what you’ve whispered or commented on. Unlike Secret, all users can see and comment on all posts. Whisper does not collect any user information, including contacts.

Why should brands pay attention to these anonymous networks?

They might break news

We’ve already seen news “break” on Secret and Whisper that was later proven to be true. We’ve also seen many that have later been uncovered as hoaxes. The problem with using these networks for breaking news is that until there is a way to validate news on anonymous applications, these stories will simply feed the rumor mill.

However, Whisper has formed an alliance with BuzzFeed to use Whisper to inform evergreen, and possibly entertaining non-news stories such as 17 Confessions From British Teachers on Whisper.

Takeaway for communicators: Monitor these applications to see if there are untrue rumors circulating about your company, or your executives. Think about how content being shared in Whisper might be positively used for an evergreen story related to your brand.

They might be a good platform for subtle branding opportunities

While Whisper has rules against posting branded material on the platform, Secret does not. Were these posts from brands, or were they from customers? It’s hard to say.


Takeaway for communicators: These applications could be a new, and unique, way to communicate with your audience. Are customers talking about your brand on Secret? Could you use those secrets to inform social content?

Do your customers have positive “secrets” about your brand that they might not be sharing? Consider tapping into influencers to share these secrets organically on Secret. Just be aware, at this time, beyond “hearts” and “comments” there is no way to truly measure their success.

The bottom line

This new communications trend just may alter non-news journalism, and evolve the way brands think about their messaging, especially on social media.

*Warning: Some of the conversations on these anonymous networks are not suitable for work.

Update: On April 29, 2015 Secret announced that it will shut down permanently.