SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Sean Houghton, Glenn Rossman, Ignacio M. Llorente, Xenia von Wedel

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Livefyre Survey Uncovers Consumer Motivation Behind Anonymous Online Identities

Livefyre, provider of the leading real-time content and audience engagement platform, today announced the results of a new survey exploring the motivations and perceptions of consumers who use anonymous identities when engaging online. Based on input from more than 1,300 American consumers, the survey sheds light on one of social marketing’s most heated debates: Are anonymous identities destroying or fostering the world’s online communities?

Conducted in June 2014, the survey asked consumers — both men and women, aged 18 - 65 and located in different regions throughout the country — to share their thoughts on why, where and how often they use anonymous identities when engaging in discussions online. According to the survey’s primary finding, mean-spirited bullying is not the main reason why consumers resort to using anonymous identities. While slightly less than half of the respondents report they have commented using an anonymous identity, most of them only do so in certain circumstances - specifically when they feel they can be more open and honest without revealing their real identities.

Additional findings indicate:

  • Most people who engage online with anonymous identities don’t do so 100 percent of the time: although nearly 40 percent of respondents who comment online have done so anonymously or with pseudonyms, more than 88 percent still use their real identities at least some of the time, and half use them regularly.
  • Bullying is not the primary reason consumers use anonymous identities: only 5 percent of survey respondents comment anonymously in order to make mean-spirited remarks. While 48 percent do so because they feel they can be more open and honest than if they identified themselves, another 34 percent cited other reasons, such as protecting their identities for personal security reasons, not wanting to reveal personal beliefs with employers, and preventing bias based on irrelevant data such as race or appearance.
  • If forced to use their real identities, the majority of people won’t engage - a result that hinders the potential for a brand to connect with its audience: 78 percent of respondents who do comment anonymously, have chosen not to comment on an article or post because it required them to use their real names.
  • People are more likely to authenticate their identities if they are loyal to a particular site: almost 83 percent of those who do comment anonymously are more likely to authenticate using their real identities on sites they visit frequently or plan to visit frequently.
  • Sites featuring topics that trigger more polarized discussions are more likely to drive anonymous engagement: of those who comment anonymously, 93 percent do so on news and/or political sites.
  • The use of anonymous identities does not harm the credibility of a site or community. Nearly 80 percent of respondents who comment anonymously attribute the same value to anonymous comments as those made from verified identities.

With just 5 percent of people who use anonymous online identities engaging in bad behavior, brands and publishers should consider implementing social marketing strategies that accommodate consumers who are more comfortable sharing their thoughts without their real identities — but moderation is critical. For more information on how to manage anonymous engagement visit Livefyre’s blog: http://blog.livefyre.com/managing-anonymous-users/. For more information on Livefyre’s anonymous online identities survey, view our infographic at http://blog.livefyre.com/anon.

About Livefyre

Livefyre helps companies engage consumers through a combination of real-time conversation, content, social curation and advertising. With Livefyre's social CMS, brands can integrate real-time content into their websites, mobile apps, advertisements and television broadcasts to increase viewer engagement, boost website traffic and drive revenue. Livefyre is powering real-time experiences for over 1,000 leading brands including AOL, Bravo, CBS, Conde Nast, Cox Media Group, Dow Jones/WSJ, FOX Sports, Mashable, NASCAR, Showtime, Sony PlayStation, Sports Illustrated, Unilever and Universal Music Group. Livefyre acquired social storytelling platform Storify in September 2013 and social application provider Realtidbits in November 2013.

Founded in 2009 with offices in San Francisco, New York, London and Sydney, Livefyre was named one of the best places to work in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Business Times two years in a row and 2013 Corporate IT Software Company of the year by the World Technology Network. For more information, visit www.livefyre.com or follow us Twitter and Instagram at @livefyre or @storify.

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