Let’s make 2014 the year we all break out of our platform-focused mentality and start getting creative with our social promotions. These past few weeks, I’ve pointed out a few examples of brands using unconventional social methods to engage with audiences (Pizza Hut creating an OkCupid account, brands taking advantage of petition sites, etc.) and I want to keep the series going. This week’s unique marketing platform is Whisper, a rising star in the app world where strangers anonymously share secrets.

Users post photos and text confessing a secret (in theory) that they wouldn’t feel comfortable saying if they weren’t anonymous. Users can search for Whispers near them, find recently posted updates, and scroll through the most popular ones. They can also reply with other Whispers, search for topics and tags, and privately message users.

According to USA Today, 100,000 new posts are created daily and traffic is up to 3.2 billion monthly page views – more than CNN at 1.5 billion. Most recently, Whisper editor-in-chief Neetzan Zimmerman posted a rumor that Gwyneth Paltrow was cheating on her husband. Even though this was immediately denied by Paltrow’s representatives, Whisper received a ton of publicity and told users/investors that it wants to become a source for celebrity news and gossip.

If Whisper is able to use its own app for marketing and publicity, surely other brands can too?


A post on Forbes by Will Burns actually inspired this article. Burns recommends using Whisper as a listening tool for your brand. By using the search option, you’re able to see exactly what people are saying that they might not want tied to their real identities.

Consumers who hate your brand will use this platform to post accusations, and your social media team would be smart to keep their ears to the ground for potential crises situations. Brands that are coming out of a crisis could track their names to make sure the posts are decreasing. They’ll know they’re out of the woods by following the decline of online (anonymous) buzz.

Here’s a perfect example that I found by scrolling through the top posts. Hot Pockets has been in the news lately for the quality of their meat, and Whisper users are still talking about it.


While crises surface every now and then, the majority of brands are currently living in times of peace and can take advantage of what people are saying about them online. Brands like Nike could use pictures and confessions that people post as images on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

A simple post like, “This user wears Nike’s with skinny jeans, what’s your Nike secret?” draws engagement. Nike is able to hand pick the user-generated posts and turn these fan messages into social content. The work is done for them!


Creating contests through Whisper is actually pretty easy, thanks to the ability to reply with other photos and send private messages.

For example, H&M could post an image with the sentence, “Tell us what accessory you secretly love and mention H&M. You could win a $50 gift card.” Users would reply with pictures and secrets, creating more marketing materials and buzz around H&M. The winner would message their address to the company privately, similar to Twitter contests.

With a little creativity, companies could generate buzz around their brands and engage a (completely anonymous) audience.

Catch the Star Before it Falls

The challenge that brands face on Whisper is one that the app itself is currently battling: is it worth investing in a fad? Other secret apps have popped up, and there are only so many secrets that people can share before they get bored and move on.

If Whisper does fail, then marketers need to work fast to create and execute a promotion before this secret-sharing app is yesterday’s news.