There’s a new social medium that’s gaining ground rapidly, with more than 10 million users, 10 billion page views a month, and 1 million app users every minute. That is Whisper, the Los Angeles-based startup that offers users anonymity, unlike most social media. Now the platform is reaching out to advertisers, running promos for brands like Coca-Cola, Hulu, and 20th Century Fox, and preparing a series of public service ads for the Ad Council.
Whisper CEO Michael Heyward feels that the success of an anonymous platform shouldn’t be a surprise he feels it’s a core human need. He feels there’s value in being the opposite of other social media.
“The core motivation behind sharing on Facebook or Instagram is to show everyone how awesome and cool I am, right It tends to be very ego driven,” Heyward noted in an interview with Adweek.. “The whole idea with Whisper is allowing people to share things like, “Hey, I’m 19, and I’ve never had a girlfriend.” You are probably not going to share that on Facebook.”
Whisper is putting some serious effort behind its move into advertising, hiring digital veterans Mark Troughton as president and Shelby Huston Haro as the VP of sales. The company has raised $61 million so far, and is growing its ad revenue.
“We’re being more proactive in [brand-related] conversations,” said Heyward. That includes offering brands keyword targeting, and looking at data around places and topics.
The one concern that’s been raised about “dark social” media is the potential for cyber-bullying, but Heyward has a ready answer for that.
“People have an affiliation in their head that anonymity equals bullying or saying things without accountability when those two things don’t always go hand in hand,” Heyward noted. “We’ve always been very clear that we only allow people to use anonymity as a shield and not a sword. And we have, actually, over 130 full-time human moderators combined with [automated moderating].”