October. 23, 16
The service capitalized on what it knew would be a “wow” factor among early adopters by hosting frat parties at
Tinder, which describes itself as a “location-based social discovery app,” is actually a dating service launched in September 2012. There is, however, a unique twist. Tinder’s designers immediately grasped how scale relates to location and built an app that works on the principle of social proximity.
Scale is the driver behind this thought process. An app with 1,000 people using it over a widely dispersed geographic region for social engagement is nothing in the greater scheme of things. If, however, those users are all in the same spot and can actually walk across a room and meet one another, something huge happens on the local scale. That’s the stuff of explosive word of mouth, which is exactly what happened with Tinder.
The service capitalized on what it knew would be a “wow” factor among early adopters by hosting frat parties at the University of Southern California. The “price” of admission was downloading the Tinder mobile app. In one night, they signed up hundreds of single people in a localized and geographically dense market – all of whom were talking about their Tinder experience the next morning.
The app itself keeps things as simple as possible. Users upload as many as five photos along with their first name, age, and an optional tagline. The app locates other users in the defined area and begins sending out “matches.” To respond, recipients swipe right for “cute” and left if they’re not interested. The app was released in August 2012, made the iTunes Top 100 list in five months, and by summer 2014 had racked up 4.7 billion profile ratings and was the number one downloaded dating app in use.
Tinder’s localized focus means that users are already part of groups or networks of people who have similar interests — like attending the same university. This creates a higher level of comfort about potential meetings and reaches out to social influencers with peer group status. Tinder gambled on organic word of mouth, but it was a calculated bet that paid off handsomely.
The app design also ensures that conversations only take place among interested parties, so the kind of spamming or trolling seen with other dating apps doesn’t happen with Tinder. There is a built-in “walk away” element that women in particular find attractive. In this genre of software, a positive experience is a powerful growth driver, and in that regard, Tinder delivers.
The app is now available in 25 languages and has been offered free of charge for approximately 18 months. In April 2014, Barry Diller, the chairman of Tinder investors IAC/InterActiveCorp said in an interview with Bloomberg that future monetization options included subscriptions, advertising, and the freemium model, which would unlock premium futures to users for a fee.
The freemium model is the most likely fit for Tinder since the app itself has not seen any major changes during its short lifetime. One gamble designers always face is boredom. If an app is allowed to grow stale, users move on to something else.
Existing users who are already fans of any service rarely balk at paying a small fee for added features, however, and new users, excited about doing the “in” thing don’t hesitate to buy either. They see the fee as the price of admission.
There’s every indication that even with monetization, Tinder will continue to grow because it has captured the sweetest of all growth hacking prizes, virality.