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Love at first swipe: Personal branding on dating sites

March 2024, Tinder, Hinge, Badoo. Whichever the dating site, you are almost certainly on one. There are an estimated 8,000 dating apps and an estimated 366 million people around the world were using one in 2022. That figure is expected to rise to 440 million by 2027.

That’s an awful lot of people looking for love. And an awful lot of competition. To stop any potential Mr or Ms Rights from swiping left, you need to present yourself as the most successful, fun and eligible mega-babe on the internet. Online dating is, in other words, an exercise in personal branding.

Branding is both an art and a science. There’s lots of easily available research and data that helps brands know how to steer people’s perception of them. Here’s how to apply that cold, hard science to building a personal brand on dating sites and get potential suitors lining up. 

Your visual brand identity

“You have a split second to impress so photos are all-important”

First impressions really count on real-life dates. But they really, really count on dating apps. You have the tiniest particle of a split second to impress a potential date, so photos are all-important.

According to OKCupid’s data scientists, it’s inadvisable to pose for your pics bare-chested. Unless you’re a ripped 18-year-old male, in which case you’re twice as likely to attract a match than if you posed fully clothed, so knock yourself out.

It’s also ill-advised, according to the science, to post photos of you with your mates (especially if you’re not as attractive as them), photos of your dog and “too-perfect” selfies. We would add to that list photos of you with your gun and you with the prize salmon you recently caught.

Travel pics and shots of you living your life however, are good ways of grabbing attention, telling your story and showing people who you are (or, at least, who you want them to think you are). 

Brand narrative: the story of you

“Detailing your perfect lifestyle endears you to no-one”

Just as in business branding, authenticity is key when it comes to creating a dating site profile. Detailing your perfect lifestyle, your rigorous 5 a.m. gym routine, your charity work etc. will endear you to no-one (and no-one will believe it anyway).

Neither will a checklist of attributes (Always on time. Solvent. Tall. Good with kids.) Just like a brand, it’s about being relatable, emotionally connecting with your audience, and giving real-life proof of how wonderful you are. (Say something funny rather than listing “sense of humour”, for example.) 

Hello gorgeous! Engaging your audience

“The key is to think about what will resonate with your target audience”

When you’re messaging on dating apps, certain types of prompts (known as chat-up lines in the olden days) are more likely to increase your response rates.

The dating app Hinge did an experiment where they fed users sample opening lines to see which types got the most responses. 

The results differed according to age, gender and location. Men responded to “assertive” messages, such as an invitation to drinks, while women were 40% more likely to respond to messages involving food. (Daters based in Washington D.C. responded particularly well to prompts about cheese.) 

Anyway, the lesson here is to think about what resonates with your audience and how to communicate with them. Which brings us to…

Speaking digital body language

“GenZers are reliant on DBL, endlessly over-analysing messages for clues”

When you’re meeting people in the flesh, body language is a potent communication tool. Online, digital body language (DBL) is just as crucial.  

DBL, like real-life body language, is all about “between-the-lines” cues – the use of emojis, punctuation, message length or how much time it takes you to respond. GenZers, who know nothing of a world before the internet, are hugely reliant on DBL, endlessly analysing messages for clues about whether the sender is interested in them.

According to Hinge, good DBL is about being considerate – always thinking about how the audience will receive a message, not leaving too much open to interpretation, and being clear about expectations. In short, it’s really just good communication. 

Go forth and find love

Building a personal brand on dating sites is not as simple as rattling off a quick profile and posting a few selfies. It takes planning, strategy and thought, but it is worth the effort. If you’re taking the plunge, good luck out there, and don’t forget to invite us to the wedding.