Tindergate and how not to do Twitter

By Bird Consultancy   |   24th September 2015

Lorna Kellett, Account Executive

Schadenfreude – a German word meaning ‘to derive pleasure from another’s misfortune’. In that spirit, I can’t deny that little thrill when brands have disasters on social media – in front of a global audience.

I can’t have been the only PR person gleefully watching social media drama unfold this week, when Tinder went on a binge-tweeting session.

The subject of the online tirade was a less than complimentary article in Vanity Fair by Nancy Jo Sales, titled Tinder and the Dawn of the “Dating Apocalypse”It claimed that Tinder and other dating apps had created “a short-term mating strategy” that resulted in unstable relationships and a generation of people unable to talk to each other face-to-face.

Tinder (or whoever was running that Twitter account on Tuesday) didn’t take too well to the article. Instead of calmly releasing a statement to refute the article, it did what none of us should do after experiencing rejection: public ranting.

A series of 30 tweets were sent, some directly at the journalist and some at Vanity Fair. Choosing to ignore the golden rule of staying positive on social media, they tried some new tactics, including:

1)      Passive-aggressive tweets about the journalist’s integrity:

“@VanityFair & @nancyjosales – we have lots of data. We surveyed 265,000 of our users. But it doesn’t seem like you’re interested in facts.”

“Next time reach out to us @nancyjosales… that’s what journalists typically do.”

“If you want to try and tear us down with one-sided journalism, well, that’s your prerogative”

2)      A not-funny, sarcastic joke:

“-@VanityFair Little known fact: sex was invented in 2012 when Tinder was launched.”

3)      Swearing instead of using an actual quantifiable measurement:

“It’s about meeting new people for all kinds of reasons. Travel, dating, relationships, friends and a S*** ton of marriages.”

4)      The ‘smirking’ emoji:  

It’s disappointing that @VanityFair thought that the tiny number of people you found for your article represent our entire global userbase [smirking emoji]”

5)      A fairly dramatic signing off statement:

“But it’s not going to dissuade us from building something that is changing the world. #GenerationTinder”

Aside from coming across like a stroppy teenager with hurt feelings, all this series of tweets served to do was to draw attention to the original article and gain even more bad press with journalists criticising Tinder’s response. The tweet-storm has been slated widely across the internet, resulting in coverage from the likes of the Guardian.

Perhaps even worse than this, though, is the speculation that the whole thing was a publicity stunt. It’s possible – many of the tweets were within minutes of each other, and yet there are no rushed spelling mistakes or cutting words short in the tight 140 character limit. It was over a week after the article was published. A reporter from Buzzfeed has even come forward to say that she was approached beforehand by a PR telling her that Tinder was about to tweet storm, and to watch for it.

What disturbs me about this theory is it means a group of people at Tinder sat down and decided that those tweets were a good idea.

It’s certainly gained a lot of attention. Perhaps Tinder thought “any publicity is good publicity”. But, Tinder – this is bad publicity. Not only that, but it looks like you don’t know how to behave on social networks.

Brands: If you get a bad bit of press, stay calm and please don’t do a Tinder.