What Hookup Apps Can Teach Us About Alumni Affinity

You may or may not have heard of Tinder, an app whereby strangers login, indicate their interest in meeting a member of the opposite sex (and Grindr for guys meeting guys + Dattch for women meeting women), and then meet with an only somewhat unspoken sexual intent. A quick profile with a pic is all it takes to dispense with the art of the pickup in a crowded bar/gym/wherever folks find dates these days (I'm a little out of touch all these years married!).

Tinder's performance is impressive making more than 10 Million matches every day.

What's interesting, though, is that Tinder has a new competitor that startup folks are excited about called Hinge.

What's the buzz all about? Well, Hinge requires users to connect their Facebook profiles and users are matched, yes, on things like interests, but most importantly, users are matched on friends in common. Oh, and even their alma mater. Yup. Hinge lets users seek out dates based on their shared alma mater.

So far, the app is very localized to San Francisco (of course) and data is not yet out there to tell us whether or not the alumni affinity connection is driving a sizable proportion of the usage. But, rest assured, if that's something they built into the app that took them months to launch, they did it because there is a deep insight there.

Of course, we all know there's something special there. And there are two big insights to take away from the recent "heat" around Hinge:

  1. Context continues to be everything and everywhere: In Hinge, universities are serving as a contextual backdrop to a personal connection.
  2. People are looking for commonality: That could be friends or it could be a school.

How can we relate Alumni Relations to the above insights? There's no reason to rush off and build a dating app for your alumni, but how can events be designed with this insight in mind that young alumni want to meet and, yes, potentially date each other? This comes down to affinity event marketing and development. When we have a good depth of data from Social Media about our alumni, we can segment for those who might live in a certain metro area, are in the same age range and, yup, who are probably single. Should your office play matchmaker? Nah. But the core idea is that there are deep emotional interests your alumni have that can find a home in their being an alum.

More broadly, of course, is the truth that where someone went to school matters to our grads on a personal level. They want to cheer for, support, and be enriched by their alma maters. Hinge is a very, very deep and personal revelation of that truth. The more our work can reflect and tap into that incredible depth, the stronger we can build our alumni networks.

Nick Zeckets