Swipe Right: How Brands Are Using Tinder for Marketing

mobile app content strategy

When people think about Tinder, they tend to think about unsolicited dirty photos and bad chat-up lines. They don’t often think about marketing.

But marketers are notorious for finding ways to adapt to new media. Just look at Snapchat, which was once considered off-limits for marketers and is now awash with paid advertisements, branded accounts, and bespoke filters. Perhaps Gary Vaynerchuk put it best when he famously said that “marketers ruin everything”.

With this in mind, it should be no surprise that clever marketers have managed to infiltrate Tinder, using the popular dating app – with its ready audience of 50 million users – to spread the word about their products and services.

In fact, Tinder itself used its platform to create a buzz by announcing a partnership with Uber. The April fool’s joke promoted both sites with a tongue-in-cheek campaign that suggested “a swipe can change your ride” and offered a “personal driver for you and your match”.

That was back in 2015, the same year in which branded Tinder profiles were cited as a content promotion theme at TechCrunch Disrupt. One year later, the app launched branded cards to help advertisers to reach its users. If a user swiped right on a branded card, a match would be formed and they’d receive promotional information, special offers, and links to third-party webpages.

Tinder Marketing: The New Frontier

It’s clear to see, then, that Tinder represents a new frontier for digital marketers, and the early innovators are seeing huge success on the platform. One of the earlier examples was a clever campaign for Ex Machina. The movie’s marketers launched a profile for 25-year-old Ava at 2015’s SXSW, but after male festival-goers matched with her, it was revealed – after a little friendly banter – that Ava was actually a robot from the movie.

Also Read: 5 Ready-to-Use “Small Budget” Content Marketing Tips for ALL Businesses, Big and Small

But Ava was late to the game when compared to Domino’s Pizza’s flirty Valentine’s Day campaign, which used images of heart-shaped pizzas and appeared for both men and women on the application. If a user swiped right, they’d be matched with Domino’s and offered the chance to win Valentine’s freebies and special offers.

It’s unclear whether Domino’s was aware of Tinder’s other pizza-based trend in which people use the app to try to get free pizza from potential suitors. But we do know that they put a surprising amount of thought into it, turning it into an integrated campaign across each of their social media profiles and sharing many of the best “cheesy” one-liners and “saucy” messages on Facebook, Twitter, and their website.

Tinder for Social Good

Perhaps surprisingly for an app that’s been criticized for encouraging casual hook-ups, Tinder has also been used to boost conservation efforts and to raise awareness for important charitable causes.

One of the most striking examples is Amnesty International and its campaign to raise awareness of forced marriages through a Tinder campaign that was timed to coincide with International Women’s Day. They used striking imagery to show that many women still aren’t allowed to make the choices that most of us take for granted, such as what to wear or who to marry. The campaign raised awareness while simultaneously directing people offsite to access additional information.

The Body Shop also joined the fray with a campaign that aimed to help endangered species to find love. Focussing on Reggie the Red Shanked Douc monkey, the campaign fought the decline of the species due to deforestation by raising money to sustain the creatures’ habitats. Every purchase made while the campaign was running helped to fund one square meter of rainforest for Reggie and his fellow monkeys to live in.

Campaigns like these – as well as the for-profit campaigns that have been such a success for Domino’s, Ex Machina, and Ford, to name just a few – go-to show us just what Tinder marketing is capable of.

Creative marketers are of the opinion that dating and marketing need not be like cheese and chalk. There are a lot of similarities in both dating and marketing. Some of these are:

  • Both are about finding the right audience/people
  • Both focus on building a relationship
  • When you succeed in your marketing campaign and dating, it gives you a high level of satisfaction and a sense of achievement

However, it will be foolhardy to assume that marketing rules can be applied to dating in the same form. Of course, Tinder does give us some valuable lessons that can prove to be worthy of a try while launching online marketing campaigns.

Looks Can Make a Difference

In both marketing and Tinder, appearance can make a difference. An amazing face and an amazing product both can attract attention and swing opinions. Tinder allows you to customize your profile according to the needs of a specific type of audience. The same holds true for online campaigns. You can optimize the campaign and tailor it to attract a specific demographic most likely to order your product or service.

Personalization Can Work Wonders

A cheesy pickup line that has been done to death is not going to get you any attention on Tinder. Unless you make someone feel special, it is highly unlikely that some romantic developments can take place. In marketing, make sure you use keywords and campaign strategies that are unique and most likely to resonate with your audience. Grab attention with an original slogan instead of using a clichéd one.

Be Original – No Phony Business Please

Trust, honesty, and transparency are the pillars of any relationship. Those who get the maximum responses on Tinder are those who are honest about their profile details. Also, there must be no deliberate misrepresentation of physical looks and appearances.

In online marketing too, transparency can get you into a winning position. The same consideration must be implemented in your marketing campaigns. Misleading your audience just to gain some leads and clicks will not help you make long-term profits. The call to action must also be clear about what you want your audience to do.

Long Term Associations Is What You Should Be Aiming For

Tinder users, contrary to popular views, also look for some type of committed relationship. Members want to invest time and nurture their online relationships

Businesses should also focus on gaining loyal customers that will order their wares repeatedly. One-time purchasers may be easy to acquire but they are no good for the prospects of any business. Loyal and dedicated customers add more stability and value to any business.

Someone mentioned tongue firmly in the cheek, dating on Tinder is a lot similar to launching a marketing campaign online. The above facts affirm this in more ways than one. After all, dating and online marketing are not exact sciences. There are a number of variables and uncertainties involved. Knowing your audience and taking the relationship ahead carefully is the key to success in both cases!

Over to you

Like any social network, Tinder will need to balance the needs of both users and advertisers if it is to succeed – and make money – in the long run. At the moment, Tinder marketing is niche enough that it doesn’t impact the user experience, but only time will tell whether that stays the same in the future.

In the meantime, what do you think? Will brands “ruin” Tinder, or will Tinder marketing be just a flash in the pan compared to other, more established channels? Be sure to share your thoughts with a comment.