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All right, I’ve got a confession to make. Last week, I downloaded Tinder.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking, but it wasn’t like that.
I was interested… from the perspective of an entrepreneur. Okay!
An opportunity clearly exists when millions of people worldwide are looking for love (among other things). Crunching the numbers, you begin to get an idea of just how big a business this industry is.
Listen to this. In the first half of 2014, dating sites spent $214 million (US) on ads and, right now, as you read this, the US dating service market is estimated to be worth $2.2 billion.
Yes, $2.2 BILLION!
Today, 33% of couples say they met online and the pundits believe that figure will double by 2040 following a new study by eHarmony. Over in America, 38% of singles have used a dating site or app.
It seems much can be learnt from the success of services like Tinder, if you ask me. (I’m becoming somewhat of an expert.)
In terms of dating apps, it is Tinder which has taken the world by storm.
What is Tinder and how does it work
Launched in the September 2012, as a free to download mobile phone app, it offers a simple and seemingly contagious way to meet people online. As of April 2014 there are more than 10 million active daily users (partly due to the apps availability in 24 languages) and according to Aussie brand manager Joshua Metz, it is downloaded 1,000 times a day.
Tinder is so popular that it’s now a verb.
Sydney app developer Dan Nolan attributes Tinder’s success to the fact that it’s one of the most ethical dating apps, because there’s not much on the line and also how simple it is to use.
User’s information, specifically their first name, age, interests, friends and a few pictures, is simply lifted from their Facebook account.
The user need only compose a short sentence-long biography to complete their profile, making Tinder much faster than traditional online dating sites which use questionnaires and whatnot. Easy peasy. (As I’m quickly discovering… entirely for research purposes, of course.)
The match-making process is even simpler.
The user selects their basic preferences and then a continuous flow of pictures appear on screen. Swipe right if you ‘like’ the girl/guy or left if you don’t. You are never informed if you’ve been liked or rejected, protecting you from possible pain and the only way you can actually start talking to someone is if you both like each other.
Again, easy peasy. This is a calmer, kinder, gentler yet addictive dating app.
Tinder for entrepreneurs
But of course the crucial question is what lessons can entrepreneurs and businesses learn from the tindering handbook?
1. Mobilisation is everything today
As already noted, Tinder is a dating app. The key word there was APP, as in application, as in those funky little icons that cover every centimetre of your phone screen.
Just by being on your mobile phone dating instantly becomes… uhm, mobile. Today, there’s an app for everything, whether it be news, magazines, bus timetables, bank accounts, watching TV, gambling. You name it, there’s probably an app for it.
So the key lesson right here is that it is important that your business has a degree of mobility.
Sometimes you’ve got to take your work with you. Tools and applications, like OneDrive, allow you to share Word documents and Excel files. These are astoundingly valuable to businesses today. Personally, I use my tablet and phone to show and share documents everyday. (When I’m not swiping through prospective Mrs Nevilles, of course.)
Even modern operating systems are designed to reflect the growing popularity of ‘swipable’ screens. (Is that even a word? Swipable?)
If your social life can now be put in your pocket, why can’t your business as well? It’s 2014 for crying out loud!
2. Making good, well informed decisions
The one thing that should be bleeding obvious from Tinder’s success is that the app is ruthlessly efficient.
For example, a simple Yes / No answer will do and as a result of that it’s a huge time saver.
Australian entrepreneur Creel Price talks about the concept of decisionship.
This idea surrounds your ability to make decisions — specifically, making faster, better informed decisions without any fear or anxiety. Whether you’re the owner of small business or leader of a country, it is indecision that holds you back.
Being able to make good decisions, quickly, is a vital skill for anybody in business.
Just think how much more work you could get done by simply swiping away the distractions?
Moreover as discussed, Tinder uses the data from various profiles to gather information and create connections. It takes your geographical information and matches you with appropriate prospects.
In the same way, if your business isn’t using the ‘cloud’ to create connections with customers and subsequently analysing that data in order to determine where your customers are, you are missing out on a huge opportunity.
Also, with Tinder you no longer have to frequent bars, clubs or other singles hot spots (I know…. yawn right?) In much the same way, as a business owner it is much easier to connect with your customers in a much more efficient way by using technology.
Through customer relationship management (CRM), and other forms of business intelligence, you’ll be able to improve your marketing strategies through being able to identify customers and/or clients both geographically and demographically….just like Tinder.
This all leads us very nicely onto…
3. You’ve got to be in it to win it
Another fact that Tinder teaches us is that connecting has never been easier.
If you swipe right and, then, she/he does the same… BOOM. Lieutenant you are clear to engage. The Tinder match-making process is incredibly straightforward and uncomplicated.
So, ask yourself… how easy are you making it for prospective and existing customers to connect with your brand? How are you making it easier to connect with you personally?
We live in an era of globalisation. Communicating with others based on the other side of the planet is seemingly effortless. But, still, even local brands can be painfully hard to reach.
(You know the ones. Is your business following this herd or bucking the trend?)
Think of it this way. In order to find a match on Tinder, you have to first be on Tinder! How else are you going to be found?
So optimise your business strategies. Create a fan page on Facebook, use social media to your advantage. It’s one of the simplest ways to help potential customers find you and for existing customers to know how to contact you.
4. Be Honest
This should be common sense. And I shouldn’t really have to include this one. But it made sense just to throw it out there, as a cautionary reminder, don’t you think?
After all, in business, false advertising is never going to end well. The single best way to safeguard your business is honesty.
If you post a photo of somebody else on your Tinder profile and/or lie in your biography and then agree to meet up with a match… well… that might make a good premise for a sitcom, but not a first date!
So, when negotiating with investors or promoting your business to clients, don’t hide you’re your weaknesses.
You already know the mantra: Under promise, over deliver.
Personal safety is also obviously important to remember, especially when using Tinder. Be careful when assessing your matches.
If you are meeting up, make sure it’s going to be in a public place. Maybe even have a friend waiting in the wings as backup and so on.
Again, this is all very relevant to your business. You need to be suspicious and cautious when dealing with or handing out your information. Be sure that you have the necessary safeguards in place to protect your customer’s information, as well as your own.
It is better to be safe than sorry!
5. First Impressions Matter
In almost every aspect of life, first impressions count.
Proper spelling and use of grammar is a must.
Take care not to use expletives or any other questionable language.
If you start out poorly, people will assume that you’re only going to get worse.
And put a shirt on, have you no shame?
Then, there’s Tinder. Just kidding! But the same applies in business.
In Tinder terms, with just a swipe, people can make and instant judgement on whether or not to connect with you.
Your business needs to make great first impression because, just like Tinder, your customers will make a split-second judgement on whether or not they will engage with you.
What’s the perception that you have created for yourself on the world-wide-web?
You now are what search engines say you are. So are you on Google? Are you Bing-able? (I’m talking about Bing. The search engine. Get your mind out of the gutter.)
Oooh, hang on…. I’ve just matched with a new friend called Ellie.
If you’ll excuse me now I’ve just remembered I’ve got to briefly leave you now on a completely unrelated matter *shifts eyes suspiciously*.
What were we talking about again?
[quote]What now? Take action! For small businesses, technology can make the difference in driving your company ahead and setting you apart from your competition. But the challenge is ‘how do you get there’? Microsoft can help make the benefits of modern technology a reality for your business. Visit our small business page to learn more.[/quote]