Social Life: Romance at the swipe of a finger

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It's a match - but will she think you're crazy?
It's a match - but will she think you're crazy?

Hello, I'm Paul Harper, social media editor for the New Zealand Herald. Welcome back to my Social Life blog. This week, I've collected an assortment of words and arranged them into sentences about social media for your pleasure. You're welcome.

Finding romance at the swipe of a finger

Meeting people in real life nowadays is a challenge and as a result the stigma of online dating is fast becoming a thing of the past.

Geolocating dating app Tinder has been in the news recently after New Zealand snowboarder Rebecca "Possum" Torr tweeted about her efforts on the app at Sochi.



Inspired by Possum, I signed up to Tinder on Monday. Five days later, my thoughts are mixed.

When you login to the app, it searches for nearby single people who fit the bill for what you're looking for. Before you know it, you're shown pics of hot, singles in your neighbourhood. Swipe right to say yes, left for no. If they like you too, BAM - It's a match! Time to start chatting.

Tinder uses images from your Facebook, which presents the first barrier to your quest to find hot dates. If you're like me, the majority of your Facebook pics are from parties and football matches. I suspect men struggle more than women to find appropriate images to use on the app as they are perhaps less likely to have sexy selfies on their Facebook pages, and more likely to have pics of them being drunken idiots. Or that might just be me.

Incidentally if someone single you know has just changed their Facebook pic from a drunken party shot to a sexy selfie, they've probably joined Tinder.

On this very news website earlier this week, Lee Suckling listed the dos and don'ts of mobile dating. While it was all sound advice, one that I find poses a challenge is the recommendation for users to be creative with their introductory message.

On Tinder you have very few details about the person you're chatting to. How do you write a clever line to someone you know nothing about without it coming across cheesy or sleezy? I have absolutely no idea what to say. I stare at my phone for ten minutes, my eyes start to water, the pressure becomes too much. A message too plain, she'll think I'm dull. Something too crazy, she'll run for the hills. I write "Hey, how are you? You have nice eyes." I press send. I drop my phone, put my head under my pillow and start to cry.

Since launching in late-2012, Tinder has exploded. The app claimed to see 4 million matches per-day last November. So the odds are good that even you can find someone. You've just got to come up with a clever introductory message...

#PricelessSurprise

Having your brand trend or your ad go viral is coup for any company, but trying too hard to get social media traction can backfire all too easily, as Mastercard found out this week. House PR, the PR company representing Mastercard, the major sponsor to the Brit Awards, appears to have asked journalists covering the event to agree to use the hash tag #PricelessSurprises and @MasterCardUK in their tweets in order to receive accreditation to the ceremony at London's O2. Press Gazeete published the email House PR sent Telegraph Mandrake columnist Tim Walker.

As it turned out, journos were more than happy to use the #PricelessSurprise hashtag:

One person who was prepared to mention "priceless surprise" was New Zealand's very own Lorde, who dropped the line into her acceptance speech for Best International Female Solo Artist. This sparked a debate on Twitter, with some asking whether she had "sold out" and was following orders by using the phrase, while others believed she was mocking Mastercard's epic fail. I'm definitely in the latter camp.

In case you were wondering, the practice does occur here. Colleagues tell me they have been asked to tweet or write Facebook posts about a product or brand in exchange for entry to an event or goodies. Of course journos should always say no to requests like these in order to maintain their independence and credibility (however I am more than happy to be bought, FYI).

WhatsApp with Facebook

Facebook yesterday announced it is to buy mobile messaging service WhatsApp for a whopping $US19 billion in cash and stock.

The acquisition, Facebook says, "accelerates Facebook's ability to bring connectivity and utility to the world".

"The acquisition supports Facebook and WhatsApp's shared mission to bring more connectivity and utility to the world by delivering core internet services efficiently and affordably. The combination will help accelerate growth and user engagement across both companies," the company said in a release.

WhatsApp boasts 450 million monthly users and is reportedly adding 1 million new registered users per day.

If you're not one of those users, WhatsApp is a mobile messaging app which allows you to send messages without having to pay for texts.

So what will change for those millions of Whatsapp users? According to WhatsApp chief executive Jan Koum: "Nothing."

"WhatsApp will remain autonomous and operate independently," he wrote on the WhatsApp blog.

"There would have been no partnership between our two companies if we had to compromise on the core principles that will always define our company, our vision and our product."

So why did Zuckerberg fork out so much?

Given WhatsApp's growing popularity, it made sense. Just like the purchase of Instagram (for a comparatively pitiful US$1billion in 2012), Facebook has sought to nullify a potential threat. With the acquisition, Zuckerberg is one step closer to his oft-cited goal of making the world more connected. As the Telegraph's James Titcomb put it, your social life will be conducted on Zuckerberg's network, "whether you like it or not".

(This Forbes story on the rags-to-riches success of Jan Koum is a great read, FYI)

Tweets of the week

Here's some tweets from Kiwis which made me giggle or smile or something this week.











If you've seen any great Kiwi Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, Vine, Twitter, Youtube or Pintrest accounts that deserve wider attention, or there's a campaign on social that deserves a plug, let me know me. Suggestions are also welcome. I'm on Twitter here, Instagram here and Vine here. You can also email me here. Send abuse here.

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