How Yik Yak Keeps Their ‘Herd’ Happy

Walking into the Yik Yak space in the Atlanta Tech Village is a lot like walking into a student union or study group on a college campus. Yik Yak paraphernalia litters the colorful office, and the average age of the Yik Yak “Herd,” as they lovingly call themselves, is about 23 years old. There is also a palpable sense of togetherness and innovation that seems like the perfect recipe for a successful start-up.

Only a year since their launch date in 2013, the social media app has taken off at over 1,500 colleges. Available for IOS and Android, Yik Yak allows users, primarily college-aged, to create and view anonymous “Yaks” within a 10-mile radius. But what makes for a successful start-up is more than just a great idea; it’s a great team, and employees that are not only passively complacent, but rather actively engaged. I sat down with Justin Oh, the Lead Product Marketing Manager of Yik Yak, to find out what makes the Yik Yak herd special and how they keep things interesting around the office.

Describing Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, the lead developers of the Yik Yak app, Justin Oh remarked, “Tyler and Brooks are natural leaders, they’re chill, charismatic and just genuinely good people.”

He went on to describe the broader office community:

“The Yik Yak herd is comprised of not only A+ talent but also genuinely good people who were selected to be part of the herd specifically because they would fit in with the herd. A lot of the people who work here are friends of friends. They put everything they have on the line for Yik Yak and that’s what makes our herd so effective.”

Every Monday morning, the week kicks off with a “herd meeting” headed by Tyler and Brooks. Justin emphasized that at these meetings, they want everyone to pitch in; that they don’t ever want any barriers in communication. Which is why the Yik Yak herd uses Slack as their internal communication tool, making it easy to chat about anything during the workday.

Using internal communication tools like Slack is one way that companies are enhancing group collaboration. Studies have shown that employee satisfaction jumps by almost 50% when people have close friendships at work, and Yik Yak is just one of the many companies that recognize the importance of employees being happy, healthy, and fully engaged.

Yik Yak also provides free catered lunch everyday of the week for employees, which essentially turns lunchtime into another chance for everyone to converse and strategize.

When asked if being in the Atlanta Tech Village, known for its entrepreneurial atmosphere, contributed to the success of Yik Yak, Justin explained “There’s an energy and a buzz here that you get from being around other entrepreneurs, and pairs perfectly with the culture at Yik Yak.”

As for the future of Yik Yak, the idea is for the brand and the company to grow organically. “Naturally our 18–22 year old fans will get older, and our vision is to grow deeper more meaningful connections with them as well as gaining new fans in the college space.”

Whatever direction they decide to go in as a social media app, Yik Yak will make sure their herd is happy and healthy.

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