4 Community Development Lessons from Hinge

When most European countries locked down, dating apps had a choice: pivot to virtual dating or risk losing users.

Hinge — one Dating app founded in the United States which markets itself as one that helps build meaningful connections and uses the tagline “designed to be removed” – needed a digital community solution. He turned to the user engagement platform send a bird to add to its service offering.

“When you compare [Hinge] unlike all other dating apps, they are all about building long-term relationships,” says Jack Wei, product marketing manager at Sendbird. “It’s also been configured differently to get people messaging each other, taking baby steps, then going from chat to a call, then to a Zoom-like live video experience, all in the mobile app.”

Successfully rebuilding a digital community during a global pandemic will certainly provide useful lessons. So what can other startups learn from Hinge? How can we soon-theater companies create communities with digital services?

don’t sleep video

After surveying users during the pandemic, Hinge find 70% were open to virtual dating – but it was also found that many then turned to other platforms, such as Zoom, to go on that virtual date.

Wei says the results clearly showed that Hinge needed to add in-app video and phone calls. This would allow them to continue to build both intra-user relationships and a relationship with the Hinge brand during Covid.

“Hinge is particularly interesting for Sendbird, because they started with us only by chat. They had voice and video on the roadmap, but you can imagine how Covid accelerated that,” he says. “There was a time when no one was able to meet in person and so how do you make deep and meaningful connections in virtual mode only?”

“If you think about all the ways humans interact, they wanted to cover all the touchpoints from that point on”

Wei adds that the lockdowns and restrictions have particularly exposed the need for Hinge – and other platforms – to incorporate as many modes of digital interaction as possible to keep up with their competitors.

“If you think about all the ways humans interact, they wanted to cover all the touchpoints from then on,” he says. “They’re ultimately competing with other dating apps for users, so what’s going to make a difference? The idea of ​​having more channels and ways to build that affinity and loyalty to the brand is a huge factor here.

And it paid off – after adding the video, Hinge’s survey found that 67% of users were happy and had fun using the feature and 50% of its users planned to continue using it.

Time to market is critical

Time to market was really critical for Hinge during the pandemic – they needed to add video as quickly as possible before losing users.

“We really wanted to get it to our users as fast as possible.,” said Jason Pearson, Android developer at Hinge. “We felt like we could hit the ground running fastest with Sendbird.”

Working with Sendbird, Hinge launched voice and video calls in five weeks in five different markets. According to Wei, building something like this in-house and from scratch could have taken any company up to six months.

It’s always an arms race for startups against their competitors”

“Building something as complex as chat takes time, it takes money,” says Bryan Bui, product marketing manager at Sendbird. “It’s a huge hurdle for businesses, let alone startups.”

According to Bui, Sendbird has the infrastructure to track 5 billion app messages per month, as well as 2 billion app users. But he adds that in addition to time-to-market, fit-to-market is also critical, so startups need to ask themselves: does my community really want this?

It’s always an arms race for startups against their competitors,” he says. “Not only to be new and innovative, but also to find this market fit to generate early revenue.”

The importance of safe spaces

Community development cannot be done properly without creating safe spaces. In dating, this is especially important, so with Hinge, encryption for chat and video is key.

“Trust and confidentiality are very important in the dating world,” Wei says. “When two people make a connection, they need to know that no one is watching them, nothing is being recorded, no one is monitoring what is going on.”

Video chats are also an added safety feature for daters as they can help ensure that the person they’ve been chatting with matches their profile and prevent catfishing.

“When two people make a connection, they need to know that no one is watching them, nothing is being recorded, no one is monitoring what is going on”

Wei says verifying identities with video can extend to other businesses that involve discussions outside of the dating world. But text chats (which don’t need to be encrypted) can also be moderated with Sendbird, including coarse filters and inappropriate image filters.

Do not lose sight of your main proposition

For Bui, one of the most important things to remember with community building is to not lose sight of what your startup’s core proposition is. That’s why the community is there in the first place.

“With Sendbird, we’re removing many barriers, so businesses can focus on their app’s core business, so they can increase engagement and ultimately drive revenue,” he says. .

Wei says many industries can potentially benefit from the addition of community chat, whether it’s text, calls or video.

“We are seeing strong growth in fintech, things like social payments”

“We’re seeing strong growth in fintech, things like social payments,” he says. “It can be investment advice from a professional to an individual investor or even investors to each other.”

Other apps that have taken off during the pandemic include fantasy sports, movie nights with streaming apps, and telemedicine, Wei says. Another example is Doordash, an online food delivery platform and Sendbird client. By integrating chat into the Doordash app to improve the delivery experience, they reduced the number of missed deliveries, which are usually caused by miscommunication.

“If you ordered a meal or groceries and they didn’t show up, you can now quickly message your driver or delivery person in the app and get in touch with them to understand what’s going on. pass,” he said. “It really helps reduce the number of support tickets these companies receive.”

Trusted by modern digital apps like Reddit, Glovo, Hinge, Schibsted and Yahoo Fantasy Sports, Sendbird enables businesses to quickly and easily integrate rich brand-to-user or user-to-user interactions into their mobile or web application.

Learn how you can boost user engagement, increase transactions, and create meaningful in-app interactions with Sendbird’s chat, voice, and video API cloud infrastructure.

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