One of Tinder's First Employees Explains 5 Marketing Musts as You Grow From Startup to Global Empire
As one of Tinder’s first employees, I’ve had the good fortune of watching the company evolve from a passion project to a global powerhouse.
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Although initially the app spread across the country through word-of-mouth recommendations, our marketing strategy has evolved to incorporate thoughtful, intentional campaigns that engage users and spark conversations around the world. Based on my experiences at Tinder, here are five marketing constants that can help every brand be successful, no matter how big or small.
1. Build a strong brand.
This goes without saying, but before diving head first into your marketing efforts, be thoughtful about building a strong, unique brand. A strong brand name, mantra and logo will be the foundation for all of your company’s marketing.
To build a strong brand, be clear and concise about how you define yourself, how you want to position yourself in the market and what you want your company’s voice to be. Once you’ve created your brand identity, integrate it into everything that you do, from your online presence to your social media efforts. At Tinder, we set out with the mission to create new connections that can turn into real-life relationships, and all of our marketing efforts tie back to this mission.
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The name Tinder came from the idea that we were creating a spark between two users. This idea inspired everything that went into our branding, including our recognizable flame logo.
Once you’ve created a recognizable brand, it’s time to make sure everyone knows about it. Don’t underestimate the value of good public relations! Building relationships with reporters is a great way to strengthen your brand identity and reach your target audience. Reach out to reporters who are covering your industry and keep them in the loop on interesting announcements from your company.
2. Find your audience.
When you’re first starting out, it can be difficult to get your company off the ground and garner your first customers.
When we launched Tinder, it took off almost overnight. Our initial marketing efforts were very lightweight. We attribute a lot of this initial success to the on-the-ground work our team was doing at universities and college campuses. We knew we wanted to target a millennial demographic, so we found social influencers in the space and then used word-of-mouth marketing to grow at that early stage. If you have memorable branding, an innovative product and directly connect with your audience, word-of-mouth marketing can do wonders.
Think creatively about the ways you can engage with your customer base, whether it be at hyperlocal events, guerilla marketing or through an ambassador program. To this day, Tinder runs a college ambassador program, so we can engage with our users, create good sentiment and cultivate positive brand advocacy.
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3. Listen to your audience.
As we continued to see exponential user growth, we didn’t just rest on our laurels — we continued to iterate and market the platform based on user feedback.
Listening to our users and responding to their wants and needs from a product perspective has allowed us to continue growing our global user base. We frequently ask for feedback and listen to what they like and what they think could be improved. In fact, nearly all of the features Tinder has launched since the beginning has been a direct result of listening to our users. We also conduct regular social listening to hear what people are saying about the app and what is important to them.
Building a brand identity is vital, but understanding your brand’s image is just as important. You want to make sure that you’re targeting your users positively and effectively, and their perception of you is in line with your brand’s mission. Consider utilizing surveys and running focus groups to garner user feedback. Use this feedback as a pulse check to inform and improve your company’s offerings and marketing tactics.
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4. Exceed expectations through innovation.
Tinder introduced its app-based dating concept five years ago after identifying the need for a seamless, fun dating experience. Fast forward to today, and online and apps-based dating has become the way people meet. As we continued to see exponential growth, we continued innovating to evolve the platform to meet the needs and demands of our users. Everything we have done, from adding the Passport feature (which allows users to find connections in cities or countries where they’re going to move to or visit), to including more inclusive gender identities, to Tinder Reactions (which helps our users communicate in a fun way through visuals), we’ve continued to innovate to remain one of the most relevant and necessary products for people today.
Another valuable way for expanding your company’s reach is by innovating on the marketing side through brand partnerships and collaborative campaigns. Reach out to your network, like-minded entrepreneurs and interesting brands to see where it may make sense to do a joint campaign to expand your reach and raise your company’s profile.
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Earlier this year, Tinder partnered with Pledgeling.com and celebrated International Women’s Day to help raise money for important nonprofit programs. We gave our users the chance to donate part of Tinder’s charitable fund, and in the end, everyone wins because our users helped us make an impact.
5. Don’t forget about your personal brand.
Don’t forget about yourself or underestimate the impact you can make. Everyone from the founder and CEO, through to a more junior employee, is part of the company’s brand and story, so think about how you contribute to the fabric of your company’s marketing efforts. Whether you’re speaking at an industry event, are active on your social media channels or even speaking with a friend over dinner, remember that you represent your company’s brand and can play an important role in its storytelling.