The Tinder meltdown – 3 key learnings

Last week Tinder, the dating app, had what has been called an epic meltdown on Twitter. Here are three things we can learn from that.

It all started when Nancy Jo Sales, a reporter at Vanity Fair, tweeted some stats that Tinder didn’t feel were accurate. What probably annoyed them even more was the fact that she had written an article called ”Tinder and the dawn of the dating apocalypse”. Great title, but again – Tinder was unhappy.

Here’s what they did in response. Over the next couple of hours they tweeted more than 30 times to Nancy Jo Sales. If you want to have a look at all the tweets, Vox has collected them. I’m just going to post a sample:

Now, of course this lead to a lot of other people getting involved. And most of the did not seem to be in Tinder’s corner. You can read more about the whole thing in Wired. Or Guardian if you prefer, they’ve also covered it well.

We can all learn from this, all of us that work with social media, and here are my three key take aways:

1. Take a deep breath before you hit that send button

It doesn’t matter if you feel badly treated, or if somebody has said something bad about your company. Arguing or slamming someone on social media is not going to improve anything. And if you really think it’s a good idea to spam your followers feed with a bunch of tweets, it’s really time for you to hand over the account to someone with a more balanced view.

The reason is very simple – you can never win in a situation like this. Only lose.

And if you don’t think what Tinder did was bad enough, remember what happened to the couple behind Amy’s Baking Company. They appeared on Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Disasters and managed to not only make him give up but to go down in flames on social media. The only outcome of situations like this is that you get a lot of unwanted attention and attract those that want to gloat and keep the story alive:

2. Is your target group really affected?

It’s never fun to get negative press, but it happens. To every company. It’s impossible to be well liked by everyone. Besides, reporters are supposed to scrutinize everything, including companies. The question you have to ask yourself is if what what they’re reporting will have an impact on your customers and/or other stakeholders. If that’s not a likely scenario, let it pass. Don’t prolong the news cycle by drawing attention to it.

In this case the Vanity Fair article was really about changes in dating behaviour. Tinder was mentioned as a tool in this context, but it wasn’t anything to get upset about. And the fact or faction that the employee/employees reacted so strongly about – that the app is used by married people posing as singles – is probably not something that will make their customers stop using the app. If it’s true, most of the users probably know this already.

It’s more important that your customers and other stakeholders have faith in you than that a lot of people who will never buy anything from you thinks you’re a great company.

3. Don’t create the crisis yourself

Up until the moment someone at Tinder decided to respond to Nancy Jo Sales’ tweet this was a non-story. It would have disappeared in a couple of hours. Through their actions Tinder kept this alive for days. People kept tweeting about it, and the media kept writing about it. And I’m certain I’m not the only one writing a process story about this. In other words, Tinder created this whole thing themselves.

The following day a story surfaced saying the tweet storm was planned by Tinder in advance, as a PR exercise. Claudia Koerner, a reporter at Buzzed, tweeted that she got a heads-up about what was going to happen from a PR-consultant.

If this is true I think it was a really bad idea. It will not do anything positive for Tinder. It won’t bring them more customers, it won’t change anyone’s view of the company, at least not in a positive way. But it will have a negative impact on the perception of both the company and the people that work there.

This is the most important lesson – don’t create your own crisis. If you want to respond to what you believe to be erroneous information, do so in a calm and collected fashion, and in a context that works. For example offering other sources to the journalist or making sure the information is published yourself. But never go on a rant in social media.

Over to you

There you have my three key learnings. What do you think? Did Tinder do the right thing? Was it a PR stunt? Share your views in the comments.

If you want to learn more about how to avoid a social media crisis, here’s a post with a lot of advice.



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