Whisper CEO Michael Heyward tweeted on Tuesday that his anonymous social network had exceeded 30 million monthly users, up 10 million from December. Users often reveal confessional or awkward things about themselves, such as having a difficult relationship with a parent, experiencing pubescent growing pains and holding an unpopular political view when it comes to real-life social peers.
This treasure trove of candid omissions by the mobile app's burgeoning millennial and Gen Z audience stands to be an intriguing opportunity for brands that want to connect with consumers on such personal levels. And that's essentially the idea behind the Venice, Calif.-based tech company's latest offering to marketers—a polling feature meant to attract packaged-goods brands, retailers and other marketers.
Called Whisper Polls, the product has recently been utilized by the tech company to supply publishers like Cosmopolitan, Glamour and Teen Vogue with gratis data for their editorial needs. It's also been tested with LGBT advocacy group It Gets Better Mexico on Whisper's Spanish-language version, asking participants about what it was like when they first came out of the closet to family members and other relevant questions. That effort was pro bono.
"With polls, we can ask these kinds of questions with a nonprofit partner," said Aishwarya Iyer, communications rep at Whisper.
Feminine-care brands can ask girls and women what their favorite things are to do during their period, while political campaigns can canvas the social app for germane marketing intelligence (see below). And restaurant players, as another possibility, could ask Whisper users food questions (see above) to generate new menu ideas.
Brands will have to pay an undisclosed sum for the polls, as this development marks Whisper's latest monetization move. In the last year, the app has attracted brand marketers such as Coca-Cola, Hulu, MTV, Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox with its keyword-targeting ads.
Additionally, Whisper is going to start interacting as a brand with its own users through a cards feature (check out an example above-right).
"When people are on Whisper, they don't necessarily hear from Whisper—we really haven't had a voice," Iyer explained. "We are excited about this because Whisper will be sharing positive or empathetic notes with users."
The company's research shows, she said, that such goodwill is virtually contagious on the app. So the cards appear to attempt to turn one of the knocks on Whisper—that it fosters bullying and other negativity—on its head.