For better or worse, dating apps are by now an ingrained part of the culture. There were more than 366 million online dating service users in 2022, according to market and consumer data platform Statista, which estimates there will be 440 million users by 2027.
That’s a lot of people looking for love and figuring out how to communicate effectively with an audience of strangers. Plenty of folks are doing it well — creating sharp, interesting and successful profiles that attract the right kind of attention. Most users, it seems, fall squarely into the “meh” or “good enough” category when it comes to what their profiles communicate. And some sink down to the “for the love of all that is holy, what are you thinking?!” level.
Which begs the question: What lessons can dating apps teach us to improve our communication in other areas? There are many — so, so many. Here are three:
- Think first: People will say … um … the darnedest things when chatting on dating apps, much of it better left unsaid. Same goes for the messages in their profile. It might seem like it should go without saying, but that’s clearly not the case: Make sure your brain is engaged before your mouth — or keyboard — starts communicating. Missteps can happen just as easily in business. On dating apps, those bungles might sound like, “Thanks anyway, but I don’t date short guys” or “So, why are you unlucky in love?” In the business world, they might sound like, “Oh wow, you guys still haven’t launched that product?” or “It’s so hard on me to have to lay you off.” Either way, the lesson is the same: Think before you communicate.
- Appearances matter: Like it or not, people are very visual, and presentation matters. Dating app users routinely tell reporters and bloggers that they’ll swipe left (reject) someone if their pictures are poor-quality, dated, unappealing or just don’t present an image that they connect with (looking at you, all you fellas holding a dead fish in your profile pic). Presentation and visuals matter just as much for your company and your brand. Is your website dated-looking? Do all aspects of your marketing collateral, external and internal communications look on-brand? Are people still rocking a photo from 20 years ago as their professional headshot? Does the signage throughout your locations look like it has seen better days? Appearances matter.
- Follow through: Ghosting — the practice of suddenly and without explanation ending all communication — has become so ubiquitous on dating apps that the term has graduated to become part of the general lexicon. Don’t be that guy (or gal) — and not just in the dating world. Uncomfortable about having a difficult conversation with a customer or colleague? You still have to have it, rather than just floating away from the problem. Feeling buried in emails and texts and tempted to just never respond to some of them? Sorry, but failing to communicate still sends a loud-and-clear message. Do you assume that a vendor who pitched a proposal at your request or a company that responded to your RFP will just get the hint when you never tell them “thanks, but we’re going in another direction”? Again, don’t be that guy or gal. Follow-through is crucial.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, dating apps are part of our life. Lucky for us, they teach us about more than just dating.