And then of course, the pandemic hit and turned dating and social norms on their head
After the 2016 US presidential election, Hobley says, people — and singles — were more passionate and more vocal about their beliefs than ever before. OkCupid saw an opportunity to help people connect based on their values. “[We saw daters saying’] ‘Hey, hang on, I want my dates’ views on social and political issues. I want to match on those things. I want to feel like it’s okay to say, “Hey, I’m proudly an LGBTQ ally” or “I’m very concerned about the environment, and if you don’t believe climate change is real, get the fuck out”’ — swipe left, in other words.”
The app introduced new ways for daters to set their preferences and to signal to potential matches what their values and politics entail. Daters on OkCupid can now select how they identify from more than 20 sexual orientations and over 22 gender options; users can make multiple selections and update them as frequently as they’d like.
The platform has also rolled out ‘badges’ — icons that users can choose to display on their profiles that indicate, for example, that they’re pro-choice or that they believe in combating climate change. In fact, Hobley says, users can select from an expansive list of issues that matter to them — and even rank their priorities — from a long list of issues ranging from reproductive rights and immigration to racial equity and gun control. Of course they can also opt out altogether or choose not to share their leanings with potential matches. OkCupid is the only Kink dating site major dating app on the market that offers users this level of filtering based on social and political values.
“Climate change is one of those things that across any issue — like travel, wanting or not wanting kids — becomes one of users’ top three, from Delhi, to Detroit, to Melbourne to Paris.”
An interesting observation the company has made is that climate change is among the most consistently highly-ranked priorities for OkCupid users around the world — not just among the socio-political issues but among all dating-related priorities and values
Hobley has hitched the brand’s horse to this focus on enabling daters to match with other singles based on any number of issues. It was evidenced in the US paign, which featured iterations like ‘DTFour Twenty,’ ‘DTFocus On My Chakras,’ ‘DTFight About The President’ and ‘DTFilter Out The Far Right.’ Hobley says launching the provocative campaign was “the scariest thing” she’d ever done in her career.
While the campaign was bold — and even controversial — it was also fun, which worked in the brand’s favor. “OKCupid has set itself apart through its irreverence and not taking things so seriously while the rest of the category searches for meaning — Bumble going larger than dating to networking, Hinge saying it’s there to be deleted and Match focusing almost on marriage potential, not just dating,” Philip Gerica tells The Drum.
A brave new world of dating
About two years ago, the brand began ed up with Mekanism to launch its first-ever global campaign, featuring regionally-specific introspective questions paired with engaging animations to get singles thinking about what matters most to them when picking a date or a partner. The ‘Ask yourself’ campaign appears to have made a connection: the app has seen significant growth of its user base in new markets around the globe.
Between , OkCupid saw a 700% increase in dates, per reporting by Fortune. And while that growth rate was not sustained over the next year and a half, app-based dating remained the standard mode of dating and Match Group recorded record quarter upon record quarter.