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The hunt for the perfect (brand) match

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Not so long ago online dating was something you did tucked away in your room. Preferably with the door closed. It was taboo. “No one did it” (yeah right). But since the dating app Tinder gave a whole new meaning to “swipe left” or “swipe right,” online dating has become part of daily life. Nowadays everyone knows someone who met their other half thanks to Tinder. With a user base of 50 million, 85% of which are between the ages of 18 and 34, Tinder also offers marketers new opportunities to reach the hard-to-get millennials.

Online dating taboos are over

Thanks to Tinder, online dating has been brought to the public eye. Tinder opened up the conversation about online dating and showed people you can be proud of your “matches” instead of ashamed. Users don’t feel stigmatized for using such a casual dating app, and the huge user base makes it seem more acceptable to commit to online dating. Social validation from peers and normalization of the app has helped change perceptions of online dating.

Tinder, swipe to success

Tinder uses the theory that social discovery is less awkward when two strangers want to meet each other. Tinder is the first dating app to use the power of social networking by focusing on dating opportunities in people’s immediate neighborhood. By letting users pick one date after another, Tinder dating creates a feeling of competitiveness and empowerment. This element of gamification, next to a great marketing strategy and use of geolocation, explains the success of the application.

Online dating for brands

But how can online dating apps like Tinder be included in your marketing strategy? At first glance, online dating services might not seem like ideal platforms for marketing. Most of them use paid subscriptions, with users who want to find a date and don’t have any intention of clicking on any kind of advertising or content. But in recent years, some brands have used online dating platforms to reach their target audiences – with success.

Think about the promotion stunt for the blockbuster Ex Machina. Male attendees of the festival where the movie premiered were matched with a beautiful 25-year-old woman named Ava. It turned out that that Ava was a robot whose Tinder profile was created to promote the film. Another way to use dating apps is by working with sponsored content. Pizza chain Domino’s used Valentine’s Day to introduce a Tinder campaign, which allowed users to swipe right to get the chance to win free pizza and discounts. The brand used the medium to start one-on-one conversations and rewarded the best ones. The campaign resulted in over 700 Tinder matches and a potential social reach of more than 200,000. A non-Tinder example comes from Match.com and Starbucks. They set up the “Meet Me at Starbucks” campaign in 2015, allowing Match.com users to go to Starbucks for a first date. By using joint promotions, both brands ended up gaining more traffic.

These examples show that marketers can use online dating apps in different ways. Of course, there are a lot of brands that use them as a stunt or a one-shot action to draw attention. But online dating websites and apps have proven to be more than that. Apps like Tinder allow marketers to use specific targeting on a platform where people are more likely to be honest about their interests and location. Because, at the end of the day, who wants a bad match? You can also target a specific age demographic, which can be a big advantage for some brands. In fact, Tinder is really like a new interest-based social network. Online dating apps also give you the chance to be creative. Some initiatives, like Ex Machina, proved to be extremely effective. But don’t forget to keep in mind that you can also go too far on such an intimate platform. Your aim is promoting a product or service, not breaking someone’s heart.

5 tips for using online dating platforms for marketing purposes

We may conclude that online dating platforms have real potential for marketers. Think about the following tips when you’re planning to integrate online dating platforms in your marketing matrix:

  1. If you create fake profiles for marketing purposes, make sure you don’t annoy people or interrupt their experience. You might give them the feeling you wasted their time, so give something in exchange.
  2. Make sure you stand out. Use simple and bold images so people quickly get the point. Dating apps like Tinder are about swiping, so grab attention!
  3. Let the campaign and context suit your brand. Not every brand can use a channel like Tinder. Check your brand’s identity before considering it and use the context to create meaningful campaigns, e.g. Valentine’s Day.
  4. Make sure your content is informative, compelling, rewarding and/or entertaining.
  5. Always make agreements with the app in question. Guerilla campaigns are usually shut down immediately and put your brand in a bad light.

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