If you are unfamiliar with the app, Tinder is a free service that uses your location and Facebook friends to find potential mates in your area. The intended goal on Tinder is to swipe right (endorse someone) for matches, which will then enable you to message any of your matches and ultimately lead to dating. However, when you swipe left, you are passing someone and in theory, will never see him or her again.
To some, Tinder is considered to be superficial. As it concentrates on how you present yourself. On your profile, you have the option to provide up to 6 images of your choice. You are allowed to only use 500 characters to describe yourself. However, the reality is most people don’t take the time to write more than a few words (if any) about who they are. So you are left with your first impression of someone based on his or her looks. Personally, I think Tinder wants you to be memorable/likable at a glance. After all, isn’t their goal to help you find more matches?
Regardless of the dating service, whether that may be Tinder, eHarmony, Match, Hinge, etc., they all have one thing in common: self-advertisement. You are essentially advertising yourself in hopes to get found and be matched with someone(s). In a lot of ways online dating is not all that different from advertising. Before we can continue, we first need to discuss what advertising means, as it is often confused with marketing.
What is Advertising?
Advertising uses visuals and/or audio to convey a persuasive message to an audience. As you know, there are many types of advertisements to communicate different marketing objectives. A few common types of advertisements include: TV, radio, billboards, print advertisements, and online advertising. I find the most similarities between billboard ads and online dating.
Looking closer at billboards, you know just how large they can be. The type of billboards I’m referring to are ones you would see driving on the highway. These billboards tend to be in the 10′ x 48′ range. The size alone is not enough, the billboard must be eye-catching. When designing billboards, you have to consider that most people are going to be moving rather quickly in their vehicles. Therefore, you don’t have a lot of time to not only grab someone’s attention but also be memorable. It is recommended that you use no more than 6 words on a billboard and include one call to action. To create an effective billboard advertisement it should be short and memorable.
Another thing you have to consider for an effective billboard advertisement is the use of imagery. Are you using high-resolution images? The photo should convey your brand’s message and should be consistent with previous messages. You should consider using large, readable fonts. You also want to use contrasting colors on your ad. The billboard may not require an immediate reaction but people should be able to remember the company/brand. What was the message? Did it leave an impression?
Let’s take a look at the parallels of advertising and online dating further.
Advertising and Online Dating Parallels
Online dating provides you with hundreds of options you may not have been exposed to before. Instead of meeting people through friends or going out to bars, you can find potential dates in the comfort of your own home. Better yet, you can choose to be on as many dating sites as you want. Your dating pool just increased dramatically.
Specifically with Tinder, you are provided with options in your area (within a 100 mile radius for the free version). You can choose the age range and select if you are looking for male or female. While you aren’t given many options for your matches, you still are seeing potential dates nearby. Additionally, if you do decide to endorse someone, you then have the option to message them to find out more about them. The choice is yours.
Today there are thousands of advertisements. There is no doubt that consumers have numerous options for different products and services around them. As a consumer, you are exposed to an estimated 4,000 to 10,000 advertisements per day. Of course you don’t see or remember all those ads. We have trained ourselves to simply scan ads and only pay attention to the ones we are most interested in.
What kind of emotional response is created with an ad? What kind of emotional response happens when you see someone you are interested in? What about your response for someone you know you would not be interested in? We are human. We have emotions and react differently to things we see, read, or hear.
Typically, ads are created to evoke an emotional response from consumers. Have you seen billboards about driving safe during road construction? Perhaps the ad uses a child and wants drivers to be careful because their parents are working. The purpose of many of these advertisements is to create an emotional response from drivers. They are hoping their message slows down drivers to prevent fewer injuries and deaths.
A more recent video has been circulating on Facebook. It was a video from the It Can Wait campaign. I found it to be quite powerful and certainly created a response. Did it get the message across?
Courting, Attraction, & Audience
Advertisers are taking the time to engage and romanticize target audiences. In theory, if you are in the dating scene, you are doing the same. Are your images good quality and likable? I think this also fits into the attraction category too. Whether we like to believe it or not, initial attraction is important.
Once there is communication with a potential date, are you able to spark their interest? Can you hold their interest? If not, you continue on until someone else comes along. If a company cannot keep a consumer’s interest, they seek elsewhere.
Just like advertisers need to make sure they have targeted the right audience, the same is true for those wanting to use online dating websites. For example, I wouldn’t recommend someone in their 60’s to use Tinder. The app is directed towards Millennials or those in the 18-35 age bracket. It is important to do your research beforehand, whether that is for love or advertising.
No one knows the product/service they are selling better than the company itself. The same could be said of the person seeking a match. You know yourself better than anyone else. Therefore, you present yourself in the best way possible. More often than not, you will see that people are adventurous. They like to ski, travel to exotic places, jump out of planes, etc. This is your chance to beef up who you are…the most intriguing parts of you, at least! Find your best images and share those on your profile. Wouldn’t you say that some advertisements are guilty of doing the same too?
Online dating allows you to collect data on who you might be interested in getting to know better. Let’s say you have begun talking to someone. You have to ask yourself a lot of questions about whether you want to invest your time in this person. How interested are you? Are they a good match? What qualities do you like/dislike?
Additionally dating sites collect data on you to hopefully send you better matches in the future. This happens a lot in advertising, more specifically in online advertising.
There is no doubt we are intrigued with swiping on our phones. It is almost a mindless task, just like scrolling on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Google search results. Perhaps this is because our attention span has been shortened over the years. It has now fallen to 8 seconds. That’s a whopping 8 seconds to impress people. If your advertisement can’t grab someone’s attention in 8 seconds, you are toast.
I think with the interface Tinder and the swiping capability, you only get a few seconds to impress someone on Tinder. Someone will look at your picture and say, yes or no. Chances are they aren’t spending much time looking over your profile because Tinder keeps it fairly simple with user profiles.
For a billboard ad, you only get a few seconds for someone to read as they are driving. You have to be memorable.
For me, the most interesting part about Tinder is it seems to remove rejection completely from the swiping process. In order to communicate with anyone on the app, it must be a mutual agreement. You are not aware who has swiped left on you, only Tinder knows that answer. However, there still is the potential for rejection in the communication portion. You can choose to unmatch someone or simply choose not to respond to a message after you’ve been matched. Other dating sites such as eHarmony and Match focus on communication, and rejection may be more obvious.
A success advertisement will create interest and the consumer will then seek more information about a company. Like with the billboard ad, the company that created the ad may not necessarily have an immediate response. People can reject the ad driving by and the company may not be immediately aware. Depending on the call to action, once the billboard goes up, they might receive more traffic to their website or receive more phone leads.
While online dating and advertising share some similarities, they still have differences. Whether you are a brand or a person seeking love, you should ensure you are targeting the right audience, conveying a response in an attractive way and leave an impression.