Is Tinder the Next Big Social Network for Marketers?

You probably don't think of the dating app, Tinder, as a tool for business, but it wasn't long ago that people rolled their eyes at the thought of Facebook or Twitter for marketing. Tinder could be the next big social network for business, and it's time to start paying attention.

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Tinder, the popular online service associated with digital dating and hookups, is increasingly being used as a marketing tool for business. Seriously. Before you laugh, consider the ways Tinder changed the dynamics of social behavior and replaced some of life's biggest questions (or challenges) with a simple swipe on a smartphone screen.

Swipe left, and it never happened. Swipe right, open a whole new world of possibilities. 

[Related Feature: Who's Really Using Tinder (and How Are They Using It)? ]

Tinder's massive growth during the past two years was primarily fueled by the desire for no-strings-attached romance, but the effects of Tinder's popularity percolate into other more mainstream ideas and objectives.

Tinder's Trademark Swipe 

Tinder as a tool for business seems like a stretch, but it wasn't that long ago when people rolled their eyes at the idea of Facebook, Twitter or Instagram as an effective tool for marketing and other business functions. 

Each of these hugely popular social platforms introduced modes of engagement and behavior that are now second nature. Tinder is seeing similar effects, but it's all happening much more quickly.

"Each app has a feeling, just like every movie you go to has a feeling," says Jonathan Badeen, Tinder's cofounder and vice president of product. Badeen also happens to be the guy who invented Tinder's trademark swipe-right feature, and he recently spoke about the importance of animations in design at a developer event at Twitter's offices in Santa Monica, Calif.

The concept of swipes and matches has already entered the lexicon of social commentary in popular films, and in TV shows and commercials. For example, Frank's RedHot, a brand with no apparent reason to associate itself with Tinder, created a funny and memorable commercial spot that targets Tinder users. 

Tinder's executives likely envisioned a variety of potential use cases for the app, but the company also embraced its perception as a hookup app until it was hit with a high-profile sexual harassment scandal last summer.

Tinder as a Business Connector 

Tinder still isn't pivoting away from its mainstay as a dating or hookup app, but it is making moves to become a business connector.

The Moments feature announced eight months ago, for example, lets matched users share photos that expire in 24 hours. This addition maintained Tinder's strictly photo-based environment while opening a new channel for communication.

Changes likes these might be born out of business necessity, but Tinder's audience of more than 30 million registered users also benefits from options beyond the endless cycle of swipes and brief chats. As of last November, Tinder processed 14 million matches each day. Today, the company has more than two billion matches under its belt, and it handles somewhere around a billion swipes per day.

[Related News: Dating App Tinder Tops 10M Matches a Day, Users Swiping Like Crazy]

Tinder's user base may pale in comparison to those of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but the service's user engagement rate is unparalleled. Nearly a year ago, Tinder CEO Sean Rad (who will soon shift into the role of president) said the average user spent an hour each day on the app.

Atlanta Hawks and 'Swipe Right Night'

When the Atlanta Hawks sponsored a "Swipe Right Night" earlier this year the professional basketball team drew national media coverage for a campaign that had almost nothing to do with sports.

Some critics laughed the idea off at the time, but today the stunt is viewed as a surprising success. The Hawks promotion teased access to special suites stocked with libations to lucky Tinder users, who were encouraged to "swipe right" for chances to win.

Tinder didn't abandon the dating hook, either, and the idea was effective because of its clever simplicity. Meeting a potential love interest for the first time in a lavish suite with champagne and roses isn't a bad jumping off point. The Hawks simply carried over Tinder's action to Atlanta's Philips Arena that night in an attempt to create special and memorable experiences for fans.

[Related Opinion: Tinder Mired in Sexual Harassment Scandal, But it Won't Matter]

Tinder could expand its existing groundwork for business-to-consumer and business-to-business connections when it introduces a paid version of its service, called Tinder Plus, in March. The company mentioned two new features, one that lets you undo a swipe left, which is apparently a significant problem; and another to let you look for potential matches outside your current location. Tinder is still testing price points between 99 cents and $20 per month. 

These reasons alone may not be enough to convince you that Tinder should be part of your social media marketing plan, but they should be enough to make you start paying attention — maybe even start swiping right.

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