What’s Happening:

The new app, Yolo, has topped the charts as a viral hit. Since its release on May 2, 2019, Yolo has been downloaded approximately five million times and has held the top spot in the iTunes App Store for 10 days in a row.


Why it Matters:

Yolo’s popularity stems from teens and the Snapchat set, so if you are in neither of these groups you might not have heard of it. Yolo is an anonymous Q&A app that lets users ask their social media followers for feedback. It’s built around Snapchat and users can log into Yolo with their Snapchat credentials, making it a natural fit for this audience. While it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why some apps go viral while others languish, there is one clue with Yolo: its anonymity.


Digging Deeper:

History has shown that young audiences love anonymous apps; previous such apps to have gained popularity among this demographic include Secret, Whisper and Yak Yak. The other appealing aspect is the feedback basis — teens and young adults seem to never tire of asking their peers, “What do you think about me?”

Another possible reason for the immediate viral popularity of Yolo is the name itself, the “You Only Live Once” acronym already highly trending among young audiences. Even Yolo founder Gregoire Henrion attributed much of the app’s immediate success with its highly searchable name.

One concern with the anonymous aspect of Yolo is whether or not it’s harmful; a question that parents are surely asking. Does anonymity encourage bad behavior, or potentially present a safety risk? Many people voice a concern about bullying, which is what eventually got another anonymous app, Sarahah, kicked out of Apple and Google app stores. There are already many articles published that outline what parents need to know about the app. While there are plenty of reasons for caution, the potential for abuse already exists with Snapchat or any app or social media.

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The Bottom Line:

While it’s less certain whether the Yolo app will stand the test of time and continue gaining in popularity, or be a flash in the pan, it will provide an interesting contest for what makes or breaks these types of apps in the short term.

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