In a digital world, marketers are looking for any and every way to get their product in front of their customers. Over the years, we have seen brands crash and burn using new technology poorly to get easy wins from consumers. New ways to advertise for virality and direct conversion appear every day, but they might not always be smart. One new way marketers have tried to reach their audience is through an online dating app that runs through Facebook.

Swipe Right to Market

Tinder, the popular smart-phone dating app, has been seen as quite controversial in the time it has been around; however, this has not stopped marketers from trying to use this to tap into the purchasing habits of their target market.

The way Tinder works is simple: you connect the application to your Facebook profile, set your preferences, and match with people within your preferred demographics. If they swipe right, it’s a match, and you can then chat.

Brands have used this matching function to send out automatic messages, after making their profiles seem like a legitimate person. From a brand level, it seems like a win-win situation; however, the reality is not so cut and dry. Facebook users feel protective over their Facebook information, so they blindly put trust into applications that ask them to connect their Facebook account. They expect that others using said applications are authentic, doing the same thing. This is a thin line for marketers that create profiles on Tinder to push their brand.

For the most part, the ROI of using Tinder to market to Generation Y is relatively unknown. Dominos UK used it on Valentine’s Day to give pizza coupons to their matches, and had a social reach of over 230,000. At the same time, it can be seen as a huge risk to users who put a lot of trust into the people they are matching with.

Tinder at South By South West

No one wants to be ‘catfished’, so the most recent Tinder marketing flop was a bit alarming to influencers and marketers in Austin, Texas for the South By South West conference. A movie that was premiering at the festival set up a profile for their Artificially Intelligent starlet in a vast attempt to get people to attend the premiere.

When users matched with Ava, a 25 year-old cyborg, they were asked a series of chat questions that seemed authentic. When her auto-chat sequence ended, she followed it up by sending out a request to follow her on Instagram. Those who finished the prompt were able to see it was marketing for a movie.

While this might be a quite unconventional way to promote your movie, it was so subtle, it passed Tinder’s terms of service. The ad campaign was able to pair authenticity with the quest for love. While most marketing won’t be able to follow the same blueprint, it is still something to keep in mind as we evolve into a more mobile world.

What’s the Bottom Line?

It is becoming faster to easily reach your core consumers, but this comes with a very heavy price. While Tinder is not the best idea for every product, there is always a time and place for this kind of viral tactic. Like all marketing practices, you have to take into consideration what you’re trying to achieve.

Keep in mind that while it is now easier than ever for marketers to target their core consumers, it is also not without a great deal of trust. Marring a consumer’s trust can lead to bad social repercussions. Our customers are wiser to advertisements, and less receptive when you pop their personal online dating bubble.