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Feb 14, 2024
Esme Smith
The Next Revolution… Purpose Learns To Date
Among the profiles, pick-up lines and prompts, can purpose marketers learn anything from the rise of online dating?
Online dating is no longer a story of boy meets girl. Today, over 1,500 dating apps cater for our increasingly fluid, non-conforming society. One app being Feeld, which has focused on inclusivity since the start. The app has offered members more than 20 gender identities and 20 sexuality options since its first incarnation as 3nder in 2014. 

Speaking to Future Laboratoy, Ana Kirova, Feeld’s Product Lead, explained, “we’ve learnt that a lot of people who are tired of trying to fit into a box want to explore and see what else is out there”. Another app, Bumble, shook up gender norms with the founding principle that women make the first move. 

In fact, online dating is not even a story of romantic love. A growing number of apps forge platonic connections based on mutual passions, fandoms and subcultures. From ‘Working Moms’ to ‘Pet Parents’. ‘Recent Grads’ to ‘Money Makers’. ‘Single, Not Alone’ to ‘Builders of a Better Word’, there’s a tribe for almost anything.  

As an industry that drives meaningful connections between like-minded individuals looking to find love (after a few swipe-lefts), can purpose marketers use the same formula to bring people together to find purpose? 
Just being together is enough.
Humans are inherently social creatures. Whether a fling, companionship or networking opportunity, we like to connect. We like to share an identity with a group, to feel like part of a tribe. 

But right now, IRL connection is hard. We live in a loneliness epidemic. Today’s young adult has 1,000 fewer hours of in-person connection time each year, compared to two decades ago. 

As the purveyors of togetherness, dating apps play an important role in tackling loneliness. Sometimes explicitly – Hinge’s One More Hour™ backs social organisations with a one million dollar grant to help Gen Z find in-person belonging and community. Other times implicitly – Tinder promotes “festival mode” to connect users at UK music events while Feeld runs “experiences” like screenings and talks. 

Dating apps don’t just provide a means to find love. They provide kinship. In a survey by Tinder of around 1,000 18-25 year old singles, “companionship” was the top “dating label” they’re currently looking for when using apps.

This is the key unlock for purpose practitioners. People value meeting others just as much as they do saving the planet. Purpose initiatives that offer the opportunity to connect in a meaningful way with like-minded souls have something great to offer beyond the feel good factor of ‘making a difference’.
Data done differently
Dating apps know dating isn’t the only thing someone is interested in. Deeply personalised on and offline experiences are crafted based on past behaviours, food habits, Spotify playlists, vacation hotspots. The list is ever growing.

Take Bumble’s 2023 activation. The app teamed up with Netflix to create connections based on viewing similarities. If you both know the infamous listing in Selling Sunsets, you’ve found the one (maybe). 

For marketers, find the surprising shared interests between your audiences. What are the surprising personality crossovers that could inspire a pair to join forces and rally for a cause? 

If creating your own dating app isn’t immediately on the cards, Reddit is a valuable resource when it comes to discovering overlapping opportunities. Filtering tools can show related subreddits by users. In other words, if someone is talking about sustainability in one community, you can see what other subreddits these individuals are also interested in. A springboard for messaging tactics. 
If you can’t beat them, join them. 
For the 336 million users worldwide, dating apps cater for ever diverse communities and wide ranging sub-cultures. Often hard to reach audiences. 

Amnesty International, The Body Shop and NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) have used Tinder as a marketing tool to promote campaigns; Amnesty for women’s rights, The Body Shop for a programme aimed at helping endangered species find love, and NHSBT to encourage more young people to sign up to be an organ donor.

Andrea Ttofa, head of organ donation marketing at NHSBT, says partnering with Tinder allowed it to “cut through the noise and normalise donation in a disruptive way”, especially among young people. During the two-week campaign, NHSBT saw a 92% uplift in organ donation sign-ups, achieved 24 million impressions globally and secured around 70 pieces of media coverage in the UK. 

Dating apps might be the best place for a purpose brand hook up. 
Like everything with a digital pulse, dating apps are not without their challenges. But they have come a long way in recent years. They have a lot to teach us about engagement in the real world. 

Number one, lean into our craving to spend time with other humans. Yes, people are interested in saving the world, but they may also value finding someone with the same values as them. 

Number two, connect people in surprising ways. Play into unexpected personality matches. Use data innovatively. 

Number three, leverage the niche communities scrolling through apps on their way home from work to find new relevance. 

And if you’re stuck with what to do next when it comes to defining your purpose strategy, let Revolt find you your perfect match. 

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