Over the years, New York-based Hinge has worked diligently to carve out its niche in the uber-competitive world of online dating. Founded in 2011 by Justin McLeod, Hinge app was released in February 2013 in a market largely dominated by online sites such as OkCupid, Match, and eHarmony. At launch, Hinge’s free app had a similar function to Tinder, offering swipeable profiles of prospective partners. However, in an ever-crowded space — which would come to include rivals such as location-based Happn and female-empowering Bumble — Hinge struggled to find its unique point of difference among today’s busy daters.
Rebranded as “The Relationship App,” swipes are gone, an Instagram-like format has been adopted, and subscription plans range from $5-13 per month. Now with 100K+ app installs on Google Play and a recent acquisition by Tinder parent company, Match Group, Hinge seems to finally be having its moment. Hinge App describes itself as an “alternative to swipe culture by creating smart matches and natural conversations among people who are on the same page. That’s why 75% of our first dates turn into second dates.”
Hinge has successfully relaunched their app by embracing influencer marketing, working with a range Instagram influencers and meme accounts to create content aimed at wooing online daters. Hinge opts for funny, relatable content with a lighthearted tone. Notably, Hinge’s partners use messaging doesn’t include a strong call-to-action, which is rare for direct-response brands that typically look at acquisitions as their key performance indicator. Hinge’s influencer partnerships aim to promote the brand rather than explicitly rack up app downloads.
While the stigma around dating apps has largely evaporated, marketing these services can often be presented in melodramatic or corny ways. Looking to sidestep this pitfall, Hinge was smart to team up with accounts that specialize in taking the edge off — or adding it — to challenging topics. Taking the comedic route also invited interaction, with many followers adding their own thoughts and opinions about dating and Hinge. In this way, Hinge was able to reach and engage their audience in a friendly and memorable way.
In 2015, Vanity Fair’s feature, “Tinder and the Dawn of the “Dating Apocalypse”,” implicated the new age of datings apps in perpetuating so-called “hookup culture.” The piece spurred a Twitter war between Tinder and some of its angry users but, for Hinge’s McLeod, the article was a wake up call.
Shortly thereafter, Hinge sent out surveys to more than 500K users, asking them questions about dating and their experiences on the app. Hinge’s findings, published here, inspired McLeod to redesign the company’s app and relaunch as a subscription service in 2016.
A dating app that masquerades as a social network, users create a “story” on their profile that others can comment on and tap to “like.” Potential matches scroll up and down to see photos and videos, as well as responses to prompts, such as “the next vacation you want to go on…” and “your dream superpower…” These cues, intended to ease the pressure of summing oneself up in 300 witty characters, offers Hinge users novel ways to express and promote themselves.
From automobile manufacturers to technology companies to beauty brands to restaurants and bars, more and more industries are finding success with influencer marketing. Speaking to a wide range of single women and men, influencers from a variety of categories can be enlisted to promote a brand’s message, elicit feedback and conduct surveys, as well as communicate new services and policy changes in an unobtrusive manner.
With a pop culture website, podcast, branded products, and a whopping 6.2 million followers on Instagram, @betches has built an empire online. Started by Aleen Kuperman, Jordana Abraham, and Samantha Fishbein in 2011, the company focuses on humor for its female-skewing audience.
One post from Betches’ Hinge promotion — a happily married couple, welcoming a new member into their family — features Instagram’s “paid partnership” moniker, has been liked 80,153 times, and includes several Hinge recommendations within its stream of 3,068 comments. The post about a boyfriend’s failed attempt at baking heart-shaped cookies earned more than 113k likes and thousands of comments.
With 13.6 million followers, @fuckjerry is one of Instagram’s most popular humor feeds. Racking up 364,583 likes, fuckjerry’s activation comedically portrays how a Hinge date might play out differently than dates through other apps.
The post reached many fuckjerry followers and compelled them to tag friends, as well as share their own thoughts on Hinge:
Karenbentegreen @hinge is at it again. Met my fantastic guy on hinge as well.
Marygranttv Go on @hinge ??
Abbkane @alpal_galpal @s_brotz hinge vs tinder
Hannahswoope @jenneustace @christine_holt95 @c_hayes3 everyone needs a hinge account no more tinder bumble
Featuring celebrity memes with a sardonic twist, @thedailylit’s feed boasts 172,000 followers. In its Hinge activation, thedailylit uses two side-by-side photos of Kendall Jenner to illustrate a “before and after” reaction to the thought of using Hinge.
With 8,925 likes, 132 comments, and cross-promotion from @highfiveexpert, the post prompted many followers familiar with Hinge to engage.
The post also introduced at least one curious follower to the dating service in a manner consistent with Hinge’s own marketing.
Niki Ang, also known as @nicolaang, is a video producer at Buzzfeed who’s Instagram profile showcases her adventures and life with partner, Kelsie. For Pride month, Ang posted about her and her wife’s upcoming anniversary, while plugging Hinge at the same time. Sporting a “healthy” smoothie inside a Hinge cup alongside Kelsie, Ang continues the theme of her post as it relates to relationships: “@Hinge is a dating app that is all about building healthy relationships with deeper profiles, liking content, and encouraging conversations through prompts instead of just swiping on photos.” In its first day, Ang’s post received more than 8,540 likes.
With 220,000 followers, @highfiveexpert’s account showcases pop culture memes with a punchy attitude. In their Hinge post, highfiveexpert features two dogs nestled together on the couch, sharing a bag of chips. The caption “Another @hinge success story!” both pokes fun at, and celebrates, the mundanity of a long-term partnership.
With more than 886,702 views, highfiveexpert’s Hinge advert more than quadrupled their total number of followers and included 453 comments.
Racy, female-centric, and product-focused, that_basic_bitchhh’s account doesn’t mince words…or anything else. In their Hinge promotion, that_basic_bitchhh offers its followers some straightforward advice paired with the sweet, if ironic, caption: “You deserve love without obstacles @hinge.”
Counting 7,295 likes and 335 comments, some of that_basic_bitchhh’s followers seemed to get the message Hinge had intended.
Each account promoted Hinge’s app in their own language and style, indicating that Hinge allowed influencers to direct the creative. While the posts range in engagement, Hinge’s strategy seems to have paid off — with many likes, comments, Hinge mentions, and even some followers proclaimer their interest in trying out the app.
Staying consistent with the aloof attitude many meme accounts exhibit, there were no specific CTAs (calls to action) within the Hinge promotions. However, if looking to build brand awareness, Hinge was smart not to push too hard or make arrant requests. Moreover, with influencer partnerships running for more than six months, it would appear Hinge is satisfied with the results.