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.
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.
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.
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 their 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 metre 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.
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.