Marketers are increasingly eyeing Tinder, the dating and hookup app, as a potential advertising platform. With 50 million users and 1 billion-plus swipes, the numbers are attractive, particularly to reach Millennials. And as Brian Norgard, VP of Advertising at Tinder, put it, “If you think about the way Tinder works, with ‘like’ and ‘pass’, we have a really amazing signal for advertisers.”
Part of what attracts advertisers to Tinder is that level of engagement. “Swiping right” is how people make a relationship match on the app. And brands are salivating at the potential of consumers swiping right to engage with them.
But as with any rising social media network, brands can be tone deaf to context. They sometimes awkwardly barge in with a standard advertising approach and forget that users might not appreciate the intrusion. Just because Tinder is a high-engagement app doesn’t necessarily mean that people will want to engage with brands with the same intensity. Tinder may be hot, but it’s not a good fit for every brand.
Gap misfired last year by trying to run a guerrilla ad on Tinder. They created a Tinder profile with ad messages like “You’re invited to the pants party” and then “we’re taking 30% off all Gap denim” when people swiped right. Tinder responded by shutting it down. In the ads, Gap tried to use cheeky language to fit in to Tinder, but the approach felt totally disconnected from the mindset of daters scrolling through potential matches.
Contrast that with Bud Light’s #UpForWhatever campaign on Tinder. Their “spontaneous fun” platform is a good fit for Tinder and their brand fits naturally into the frame of mind of people using the app.
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I imagine a lot of brands will try to make a Tinder connection in the next couple weeks. But in chasing social media engagement, it’s important to remember that engagement has to be earned. Consumers can swipe left as easily as they can swipe right.