The addictive hook of gamification is a powerful strategy for companies that want to engage consumers and retain their loyalty. Researchers have discovered that this method is effective at retaining users of electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets. The company behind Tinder explained that the swiping mechanic was inspired by a 1948 psychological experiment by Harvard Professor Burrhus Frederick Skinner. The pigeons were placed in a cage with a fake button and were rewarded every time they pressed it.
The Hook phase is a key to maximizing the hook addiction effect of gamification. The strategy includes leveraging the user's ability and motivation to perform an action. The companies also use the art of usability design to boost motivation. For example, Tinder's mechanics incorporate controls from other games such as World of Warcraft. However, Tinder is not as satisfying as these games. The addictive hook of gamification marketing works best when the company makes a product fun and easy for the user.
The hook addiction effect is particularly strong in mobile dating apps. As the majority of users are Millennials, Tinder has been the most successful dating app since it launched in 2014. The platform is rapidly changing and gamification has become a key driver of growth. It has changed the nature of online dating and is becoming an integral part of daily life. The swiping feature is the most prominent example of gamification.
1. The dramatic birth of Tinder
In 2012, Sean Rad, the founder of Tinder, just finished his advertising marketing venture and decided to join the Internet company IAC as the general manager of its incubator Hatch Labs. Originally, the team was developing a membership management app called Cardify. It happened to be the hackathon Workshop during the development period. One of the engineers in the team wrote the original Tinder—MatchBox.
However, Matchbox and IAC's dating site "Match.com" are too similar in name. Later, the team had to rename MatchBox to Tinder, which opened the way for Tinder's explosive growth.
2. The irresistible dating game
Tinder creates a more intimate and customized dating experience than the real world.
In the real world, when you meet someone you think is good and interested, it is actually a high-risk behavior to talk to the other person. First of all, you don’t know if he is single, and then if you want to find someone, let alone you. You will know his name or whether you have the same interests as you, but today you switch to the virtual world of Tinder. All this information is in your hands. As long as the other party thinks you are good, you will have the opportunity to start a conversation smoothly and reduce the troublesome process of temptation. .
In addition, the most embarrassing thing to strike up a stranger in the real world is "being shot", but Tinder has cleverly designed a mechanism that "both parties can "swipe right and like" to start the conversation". The arrangement of this waiting period makes the right-sliding moment not rejected like reality, and immediately feels violent embarrassment or disappointment, but will be more actively looking for more encounters to fill the empty window time.
At the same time, under the arrangement of Tinder's algorithm, it is quite difficult for users to meet people who have been rejected or rejected. This also prevents users from repeatedly remembering previous negative play memories and resisting using Tinder.
3. The appeal of gamified marketing
If you take a closer look at Tinder's product design, you will find that they gamified the behavior of picking objects.
Gamification does not mean that products or services are directly presented in the form of video games, but that they combine common elements in games, such as appreciation, points, or rankings.
Tinder stacks user files into a pile of playing cards, and uses simple swipe gestures to filter those who like (slide right) and those who dislike (slide left). Not only does it have a very low threshold for operation, but it is as fun as drawing ghost cards. You are curious. Will a card be a perfect match for yourself?
Coupled with the mechanism mentioned in the previous paragraph that "both sides can swipe right to start the dialogue", it also creates a sense of expectation for the user, and the deer can't help but bump into it:
"I really like the person I just saw. Will the other party swipe me right when they see it?"
"If I continue sliding without opening the app, will I miss other people who swipe right?"
Tinder integrates FOMO (Fear of missing out) and the sense of accomplishment brought by successful pairing, allowing many users to unconsciously immerse themselves in online dating, and constantly return to the APP to match.
In 2020, Tinder will expand the gamification marketing experience and launch an interactive short album "Swipe Night". "Swipe Night" is describing the story of the end of the world. Users can participate in it. The familiar "swipe left and right" mechanism will lead the development of the story. In the future, Tinder will pair users with the same choice with each other, and it will be a short time after going online. The amount of information that allows the entire APP user to interact has increased by 12%.
In 2021, Tinder will strike again to create a consumer experience that integrates virtual and real with the ride-sharing software Lyft. Tinder can help paired lovers call a car and send them to their homes so that they can spend a lonely night together.
4. Precise community expansion strategy
Combined with key gamification marketing and precise expansion strategies, Tinder reached one million MAU in just one year.
Whitney Wolfe, the co-founder at the time, imagined Tinder's business model as a mall, and the mobility of the mall is the key to success. There must be supply to have buyers, and demand to have sellers. To transfer this kind of thinking to Tinder, we must first accumulate enough users, so that people who want to date will naturally go to Tinder to find someone.
Therefore, Tinder’s team grasped the ecosystem of the Greek-letter organization of American universities. After recruiting a large number of female users from the sorority, after telling the information to the members of the fraternity, everyone took a look. Who has the mentality of becoming a user?
Tinder has successively copied the same model to various universities, coupled with the word of mouth of the fraternities and sororities, relying on the typical Network Effects strategy alone, it has grown from less than a few hundred users to 15,000 users at the beginning.
And Tinder cannot rely solely on the US market to become the world's largest dating platform. Their international expansion strategy has also been quite successful. The team is not trying to force money to promote the market in various countries, but to study the consumption patterns of various countries, and the detailed investigation found that 70% of users outside the United States use the Android system.
So before starting to market overseas, Tinder has developed the Android version first, and then they will place marketing resources in cooperation with micro-influencers in the local market, and expose their use in the community or news media through micro-influencers. Tinder’s gaming experience finally achieved a 2% daily user growth in the UK and Brazil.
Tinder will also launch a subscription service in the future. The more features unlocked by different subscription plans, such as: hiding ads, jumping to different regions to match, seeing who swipes right on you, and missing objects can be retrieved. Today Tinder's MAU has reached 66 million, and there are 6.7 million subscribers, and annual revenue has reached 1.4 billion US dollars.
Based on the above, Tinder can grow explosively for no reason. The original gamification marketing, precise promotion plan, and large-scale monetization model make Tinder the leader of the dating platform industry.
Tinder’s three growth engines: caring and unsounding user experience, gamification design to enhance user addiction, and gaining the first loyal early users through the Greek community system.