I just came out of a long-term closure. We can be friends?
Love messes are not the most important thing in the minds of many people coming out of long periods of pandemic isolation. Instead, they wish for the friendships and social groups they have been hungry for over the last year.
This is the verdict of dating apps like Tinder and Bumble, which launch or acquire new services focused entirely on making and keeping friends.
“There’s a really interesting trend that’s happening in the connection space, which is that desire to have platonic relationships,” said Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder and CEO of Bumble.
“People look for friendship in ways they would only have done offline before the pandemic.”
His company invests in its Bumble BFF (best friends forever) feature, which he said comprised about 9 percent of Bumble’s total monthly active users by September 2020 and has room to grow as it we increase our focus in this space ”.
Meanwhile, rival Riv Group, which owns a number of apps including Tinder and Hinge, is also beyond love and lust. This year he has paid $ 1.7 billion for South Korean social media firm Hyperconnect, whose apps allow him to chat from around the world through real-time translation.
Hiperconnect’s revenue increased 50% last year, while Meetup, which helps you meet people with similar interests at local or online events, has seen new members increase 22% since January.
The most searched Meetup word this year was “friends.”
“Find company and connection”
These friendly services have seen an increase in user engagement since COVID-19 restrictions were gradually lifted around the world, allowing people to meet in person, according to Evercore analyst Shweta Kharjuria, who said it made reasonable business sense to make cuts to more customers.
“This opens up the total market available from targeting only singles to singles and married people,” he said.
The importance of physical contact was echoed by Amos, a 22-year-old French au pair who used Bumble BFF in London.
“Starting the momentum is hard online and if the whole IRL (in real life) is closed,” he said. “You never connect until you’re in person.”
Rosie, a 24-year-old dental nurse who lived in the city of Bristol in the south-west of England, struggled to connect with her older co-workers during the closure and began using Bumble BFF three years ago. weeks to meet new people.
“I am a very sociable person and I like to meet new people, but I have never found opportunities. I just went from receiving Vodafone to texting me to this pretty buzzing app, which is nice, it looks like a lot of girls are in my position, ”he said.
Nupur, a 25-year-old professor in the western Indian city of Pune who uses both Tinder and Bumble, said the app’s efforts to promote itself as a way to find friends instead of connecting and loving “could work really well”.
“I’ve met a couple of people online and we’ve known each other and been friends for over a year.”
In fact, friend-building networks like MeetMe and Yubo have even surpassed some popular dating apps in terms of daily engagement in recent months, according to market research firm Apptopia.
Jess Carbino, an online dating expert and former Tinder and Bumble sociologist, told Reuters that social isolation had been “surprising” because of the pandemic, especially for single people living alone.
“(This) has inspired people to use the tools available, that is, technology, to find company and connection.”
“Trends are here to stay”
LGBTQ + dating apps have done a lot to boost the social aspect of dating, according to broker Canaccord Genuity, with Blued from China offering surrogacy services, for example, and Taimi providing live streaming.
Meanwhile, the Hornet gay dating app aims to be more of a social network focused on users ’personal interests, rather than a connection service focused on physical appearance and closeness.
Hornet founder and CEO Christof Wittig said it was unlikely that people would return to the “old ways” of connecting with their community exclusively offline, such as through nightlife, the activism or LGBTQ sporting events.
Witting said the number of users who played the news, comments and videos increased 37 percent during the year through May.
He said the number of people looking for friendship and online community had increased during the blockades when people turned to digital platforms for a sense of belonging when bars, gyms and proud events closed.
“These trends have come to hold,” he added. “Like video conferencing and teleworking.”