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Tinder as a marketing tool: Exploring off brand uses of the dating app

With over 50 million users around the world, it is easy to see how Tinder can be enticing to use as a marketing tool for a variety of events, campaigns, fundraisers, and businesses. 

While doing some research on new technologies and how they mediate dating and relationships, Stefanie Duguay, an assistant professor of communications studies at Concordia, saw that some users on Tinder were using the app in “off-label” uses, different from its intended use as a dating app.

According to Duguay’s paper, which was published on The Information Society, some users on Tinder were able to take the app’s design and repurpose it for their own benefit. Some people were using the app for a variety of things from political campaigns to business networking to selling things.

“Often [off-label uses] played on the expectation that Tinder is a dating app kind of incorporating these themes into their campaigns, but sometimes they faced backlash because people viewed [Tinder] so much as a dating app,” Duguay said. 

“Even though Tinder has said that broadly it’s to meet new people, which could mean a range of things, other users actually reinforced this interpretation of Tinder as a dating and hookup app,” she added.

Today, Tinder users are used to seeing advertisements while they’re using the app, however it wasn’t always like that. Some brands would just have to launch their campaigns on the app, and hoped that people would swipe positively on them. Duguay said that she spoke to a person who used the app to promote their own multi-level marketing campaign selling supplements.  

She added that Tinder wasn’t very clear on what their stance was on advertising. 

Tinder’s policy on advertising has since changed. 

“Now there’s a really specific portion of their terms of service that says if you want to work with them as a brand you need to go through these sort of approved channels,” Duguay said. 

In 2015, Tinder first experimented with advertisements when they partnered with Budweiser to promote their #Whatever campaign.

Tinder has also been involved in politically when it partnered with Rock the Vote, a non partisan organization that is dedicated to increasing the political power of young people, to increase voter turnout among young Americans in the 2018 midterm elections. 

Duguay said that she has no evidence that Tinder created an advertising policy due to the off-label uses, but Tinder has changed the way the app works in response to destructive off-label uses in the past. Tinder limited the amount of people are users are allowed to like in a day in order to lower the amount of automated bots that were liking everyone.

“I welcome people to read the paper and think about this concept of off label use and whether it applies to other platforms as people further integrate social media and apps into their everyday lives,” she said.

Categories: Internet, Science & Technology, Society
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