Excuse the deviation from my regular, business growth-oriented writeups. I was sitting around with a few buddies having drinks last weekend, and we got on the topic of dating, specifically, Tinder. As we shared stories of terrors and triumphs, I found myself describing the process in which I use Tinder in a more strategic manner for quality control. That process, although quite normal to me, was quite an abstract one when spoken aloud. I was told this stuff needed to be published. So here we are. This was fun to write.
Why am I writing this? I am genuinely looking for love, but like most people, I lack the time to explore the plethora of dating options, let alone facilitate infinite numbers of dates to find compatible partners. My recent dating journey is about unlocking quality over quantity, so I spend my time talking to, and potentially dating, the right matches. While this is technically conversion hacking with intent to positively influence success rate, I am genuinely still being me, just representing myself in the most effective way. This guide is for those wanting to save time, and attract the most elegible bachelorettes (or bachelors).
When I look at what I do as a growth hacker, it’s a complete left-brain/right-brain game. On one hand, you’re being completely analytical, clinical, precise, and on the other hand, you’re crafting highly creative/speculative experiments to act on that data. You’re the scientist and the artist, simultaneously.
The way your brain works when growth hacking sparks an onflow of ideas, far beyond the reach of simply growing a startup’s conversion funnel (and profits).
So it got me thinking. What lessons can I take from growth hacking and transplant to my lifestyle, to hack an unfair advantage over the competition?
Interestingly enough, the lessons learned from this experiment can be used to inspire growth professionally (such as thought leadership and networking) and profit attraction (growing a new business and attracting top talent), or a pure lifestyle play. Take from this as you must.
The Dating Game: Tinder
For those unfamiliar with Tinder, it’s a dating app. You upload a few pics, write a bio, set your proximity radius for matches, and start swiping for matches. Left means ‘no’, right means ‘yes’. If you swipe ‘yes’ to someone, you are unable to facilitate a conversation with them unless they swipe ‘yes’ to you too. It’s simple, effective, and highly addictive… and it works.
It’s no fad, either. With 50 million users, 24 languages and a $5 billion valuation and recent monetisation of its user pool, it’s the most serious player in the congested ‘online dating’ industry. In fact, the average Tinder user spends 77 minutes swiping every day.
The Swiper’s Challenge: Acquisition
Tinder users swipe with ferocity. With only a split-second, if that, to make an impression on someone on a swiping-spree, there’s no time for second chances. The question is, what can you bring to the table that’s going to make your potential suitor stop in their tracks?
If you’ve got a shirtless tattoo-laden image, drinking a beer whilst patting a sedated tiger in Bali (note: the overused Tinder stereotype for Australians, I’m positive each nation has their own), then questioning why your success rate isn’t what it should be, then it’s time to put your clothes back on and start promoting yourself like a champ.
It becomes a game of greatness vs gimmicks. Do you present yourself as a breath of fresh air, or as a ‘one and the same’ kind of person? What kind of person do your intended swipers see you as?
This is the part we don’t know for sure. If you’re already dressing and acting the part of the type of significant other you’d like to attract, then you’re partially there, though the weight of your ‘compatibility’ is based on how you’re portrayed in the images you’re presenting, especially the first one.
This is kind of like display advertising on the internet and apps. We see so much of it, we’re desensitised. The only thing we’re going to pay attention to and perhaps even convert with, is something that appeals to our very personal foundations as a human on this planet. Falling short of that, you’re left-swiped in an instant.
My experiment involved my own perception of the best image representations of myself, coupled with a bio written with a call-to-action methodology, followed by refreshing an approach to retention in a landscape where my female audience has ‘heard it all before’.
How I Did It: The ‘ABC’ Tinder Experiment
I decided to approach this by experimenting with the three things I had control over when being represented to potential matches. They are my ‘Appearance’, my ‘Bio’ and my ‘Chat’. Here’s how I went.
- Image Count: 6
- Image Order: No specificity
- Controls: None
- Bio: Basic
- Matches: Circa 50
- Retention: Circa 15
A. Appearance Experimentation:
- Image Count: 6
- Timeframe: 6 weeks
- Image rotation: Weekly
- Control: Selective 20 daily right swipes
- KPI: Matches
This experiment is relatively straight-forward. Out of my pool of six images, rotate the main image on a weekly basis. Swipe through matches daily until I have swiped 20 right swipes (women I would actually want to match with). Keep a score of the amount of reciprocal right swipes (essentially, women matched with).
Highest performing image order (82 matches from 140 swipes):
B. Bio Experimentation:
- Timeframe: 12 days
- Bio Rotation: 4 days
- Control: Selective 20 daily right swipes
- KPI: Matches
With this experiment, I started off with a 5-line bio and made sure it covered:
- A pleasure-point for intellectual women
- A teaser of what I do (to build intrigue)
- Tickbox items of elements women tend to look for in a man
- Asked for what type of women I’d like to be matched with
- Supporting online assets
Highest performing bio representation (93 matches from 140 swipes):
C. Chat Experimentation:
Once I had my matches I tested opening lines by using compliments that don’t mention their physical appearance (I found this to be the most effective way to differentiate social intelligence from my matches). If they thanked me, and reciprocated with a compliment or a question of their own, they would qualify as a retention-oriented match (over matches that used one-line answers and had poor conversation skills). I’m a big fan of women who are master conversationalists, so this was an important filter for me.
Roughly only 25% of the matches (45) had this positive reciprocal chat-charisma characteristic so I focused on these alone. To keep the conversation moving towards the inevitable phone number/date question, I’d use chat techniques that have helped me keep and manage business relationships for over a decade:
- Used chat-invoking questions (simple networking practices)
- Used active listening and made the conversation about them
- Interjected with witty banter where opportunities presented themselves
The takeaway: Just be a badass human listening machine, that presents themselves as someone they could bring home to meet the parents.
What I Learned: The 3 P’s of Tindering:
1. Product-Market Fit (Acquisition)
You aren’t going to attract every suitor on Tinder, but you do have control over the quality and types of suitors you can attract by the way you represent yourself. Who are you trying to attract, and what do they look for?
The image you use first needs to be representative of the types of things that your ultimate swiper would find appealing. The bio is where you can be explicit in what you’re looking for. This filters out the quality respondents meaning you spend less time talking to the wrong matches.
2. Powerful Presence (Conversion)
Command their attention from the start, be interesting and detract from your ideal ‘end-game’ scenario, regardless of what it is. I found uniqueness and portrayal of social intelligence to be the key factor in early conversions. It sets you apart and helps you keep ‘active listening’, as you’re concentrating on how you can relate to what they’re saying, as well as finding new avenues for conversation growth.
3. Pleasure and Pain (Retention)
If it’s really someone you wish to pursue, it’s time to ask questions and dig deep into what makes them happy, and their biggest problems in life (and how you can solve it). Asking about their dating experiences, the types of people they don’t like to swipe and the types of people they do, is like a customer service survey for you, and ensures you’re steering clear of traps that will undo all your hard work.
Got an interesting Tinder hack? Do you apply Growth Hacking elements in non-business oriented parts of your life? Share them below!