How Dating Apps Talk to a Swipe-weary World

After almost a decade of mindless swiping, our honeymoon phase with dating apps is over. How are dating apps adapting their messaging in response to this shift?

Dating apps have unique messaging strategies.

Whether you think it’s killing romance or enabling once-impossible connections, online dating is here to stay—and continue giving us new words to describe new soul-sucking experiences like ghosting, breadcrumbing, simmering, and orbiting. 

While dating apps have enabled many connections, friendships, marriages, and partnerships, these feats are often eclipsed by the fact that they seem to bring out the worst in all of us. Surveys, studies, anecdotal experiences, and Reddit threads all seem to agree: we’re in a complicated situationship with dating apps. And, more often than not, it’s leaving us sad, confused, and disconnected. 

In a world that’s convinced that dating apps are overpromising and under-delivering, how are these companies persuading audiences that they truly are rooting for them and not gamifying and monetizing their search for love? Below we look at how the three most popular dating apps in the market—Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble—set themselves apart and convince their users to stay on and keep swiping.

Tinder: Swipe Right on Non-Stop Fun

“Single people, listen up,” boasts Tinder’s homepage, “If you’re looking for love, want to start dating, or just keep it casual, you need to be on Tinder.”  

Tinder has every right to brag. With over 75 million users swiping left and right, it’s the world’s favorite dating app. 

While the company is currently hard at work trying to shake off its reputation as a hookup app after a mass exodus of female users from its platform and a dismal 2022, its messaging has, until now, reflected the fun, fast, and fiery exchanges that have drawn millions of users to its platform for more than a decade. 

It starts with a swipe.

With the laziest of movements, Tinder revolutionized the way people connect and put more choices at their thumb tips than they’d ever had before. While it’s broken lots of hearts along the way, it’s brought together many more. And, in the end, it’s that sense of possibility at what could happen if they swipe right on the right stranger that keeps people flocking to Tinder—whether they’re looking for fun adventures or forever connections. This slogan headlines Tinder’s new global campaign, which marks a big shift for the company from hookup central to a place where people can spark long-term relationships.

Match. Chat. Meet. Tinder.

So simple it almost makes you forget about all the awkward conversations and misanthropy you can fit in between each one of those four periods. Tinder runs on instant gratification. And, with this statement, it promises to eliminate all the hurdles standing between you and those elusive new flames—from geographic limitations and lack of prospects with similar interests to putting on pants.

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Hinge: Swipe right on your happy ever after

If Tinder’s language is the equivalent of a random stranger trying to talk to you over loud music at a crowded bar, then Hinge feels like a dinner date with that same stranger where they speak at a normal volume and say all the right things. 

It wasn’t always like this, though. In its first iteration, Hinge was just another hookup app. After realizing that it was feeding what Vanity Fair dubbed the ‘dating apocalypse’, Hinge made a u-turn and transformed into a mission-driven company set on helping people find love. The results? Transparent, empathic, and values-driven messaging that succeeds at making users feel a little hopeful about the woeful state of modern dating.

The dating app designed to be deleted

After a decade of mindless swiping and fizzled-out conversations the consensus seems to be that dating apps are designed to make users fail at finding connections. Hinge addresses this gripe point-blank by reassuring readers that they’re not like other apps—they’re rooting for you. And they’re here to get you real dates, not a long list of ego-boosting matches. 

We’re love scientists

Where others lead with guts, Hinge tries to lead with brains. But, how far can algorithms based on superficial data optimize the search love? Judging by the swelling numbers of unsatisfied dating app users, not much. At least not yet. But Hinge is up to the task. And it wants you to know it has an entire research division dedicated to the ambitious goal of getting you off the dating app carousel. How is all this science going to help us get better matches and stop having to craft endless “How’s your weekend going?” messages? It’s a bit of secret. But they do name-drop the Nobel Prize-winning algorithm behind it. 

Bumble: Swipe left on the old rule book

“Bumble is more than an app,” states Bumble’s homepage, “it’s a movement.” Hailed as “feminist Tinder” and “the girl boss of dating apps,” Bumble took everything that made women feel uneasy about online dating and tried to build an app with guardrails against it. Here, online dating is not a miserable chore—it’s an empowering experience and a way to advance women’s rights at every swipe.

Like any #girlboss, Bumble wants it all: love, friends, and professional success. It’s a dating app, networking platform, and friend finder all rolled into one. The brand’s messaging leans heavily into typical femvertisig themes that—while at times indistinguishable from Dove soap ads— still manage to convince an audience of women taking charge that, if they work hard and put in the hours, their efforts at finding love will be well rewarded.

Make the first move

With this catchphrase, Bumble set out to revolutionize women’s role in dating and relationships and empower them to take the same initiative in love as they do in every other aspect of their lives. Whether users come to Bumble because they want to take a more active role in dating or just for the sheer novelty of experiencing a new power dynamic, the promise remains the same: a safer and more leveled playing field. Does this solve gender equality? No. Does it make the app safer or less sexist than its counterparts? Not even Bumble knows for sure. Regardless, it’s working. Bumble is now the second-most downloaded dating app in the US. 

A winery got help standing out from the competition

Alongside ripe competition in the storied Willamette Valley, Flaneur Winery wanted to stand out. So Russell Litchenthall, Director of Hospitality & Sales, reached out to an old friend at MarketSmiths. We were able to learn and tell the business’ unique backstory, explaining the origins, philosophy, unusual name—and historic grain elevator, a major visitors’ attraction. The published copy is as beautiful as the images that make this winery website stand out

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From casual connection to commitment, dating apps are gearing up for long-term relationships with their users

While dating apps haven’t succeeded at making our search for the one easier, they’ve managed to convince the world that they are the best place to do so. But, just like the dreaded “What are we?” conversation, consumers are realizing that dating apps are here for the long run—and they’re starting to ask for more. 

As journalist Nancy Jo Sales explained to Vox: “Dating is often seen as a trivial thing, but it’s not trivial. It’s how we get family, which is pretty important”. Dating apps are not just for fun. They’re playing an increasingly important role in our lives. The rise of Bumble and Hinge and Tinder’s recent rebranding show how dating apps are under increased pressure to reimagine how they speak to their swipe-weary audiences and prove themselves worthy of occupying such an important place in their lives. 

Strong messaging is crucial for standing out in a market crowded with increasingly similar digital experiences. The staff at MarketSmiths understands how important it is for brands to relate to their customers and speak to their needs. From tech and healthcare to education, we’ve helped companies across industries build stronger relationships with their audiences with empathic messaging that reflects their unique brand values. 

Ready to define a long-term relationship with your audience? Contact the MarketSmiths team today 

Carol Guasp

Carol Guasp

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