An eager crowd buzzed around the distinctively teal Yik Yak tent outside the Marshall Student Center. Students from all around campus flocked to the tent to claim prizes and take pictures with the Yak mascot.
Yik Yak, a popular social app, lets users post anonymous “yaks” that are meant to be visible only to nearby users. It’s popular on college campuses where there are high volumes of social-media-savvy young adults.
The app’s growing popularity has led to a nationwide tour to promote it on college campuses. There are two tours, one on the East Coast and one in the Midwest. The company plans to visit 59 colleges in 34 states, according to the Yik Yak website.
“Our goal is to spread the word about growing the herd,” said Colin Brennan, a 2012 Colorado State University graduate touring with other Yik Yak employees.
The promotional tour rewards active app users with prizes such as Ping-Pong balls, stickers, hats and socks. Brennan said there has been a sharp increase in the amount of posts on the campuses they’ve visited.
“I used to be active [on Yik Yak]. Not so much anymore. This will definitely make me go on again,” senior psychology student Grace McGirr said.
The prizes were in high demand on the USF campus when the Yik Yak tent made camp. Brennan said by noon on the first day they were out of 75 percent of the prizes. By the following afternoon, they only had a few Ping-Pong balls and pens left.
The most active campus on the East Coast tour so far has been the University of Central Florida in Orlando.
“We saw the average user having 20,000 to 60,000 points. We also saw the two highest scores there – 526,000 and 568,000,” Brennan said.
Yik Yak is popular for both entertainment and information.
“If something happens on campus, everybody goes to Yik Yak,” said Sydney Thinnes, a junior chemistry student at USF.
“Yik Yak is basically our main news source,” Thinnes’ friend Anna Zeljazkow said.
In order to appear on campus, Yik Yak partners with student organizations to raise money for a cause. At USF, they partnered with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. Yik Yak donated $1 to the organization for every post following a certain theme. They hope to reach out to even more organizations in the future.
“The goal is for Yik Yak to be a tight-knit community, avoid negativity, and be a strong herd while creating informative, relevant, and funny yaks,” Brennan said.