I just got out of long-term closure. Can we be friends?
Love knots are not the main one in the minds of many people drawn from long periods of pandemic isolation. Instead, they yearn for friendships and social groups that have been hungry for the past year.
That’s the verdict of dating apps like Tinder and Bumble that are launching or acquiring new services aimed at making and maintaining friends.
“There’s a very interesting trend going on in the connection space, which is the desire to have platonic relationships,” said Whitney Wolfe, founder and director of Herd Bumble.
“People are looking for friendship in ways they would only do offline before the pandemic.”
His company invests in its Bumble BFF (best friends forever) feature, saying it made up 9% of all Bumble’s monthly active users in September 2020 and “has room to grow as we increase attention in this space”.
Meanwhile, his competitive team – the owner of an application chain including Tinder and Hinge – is pushing beyond love and lust. Hyperconnect, a South Korean social media company, has paid $ 1.7 billion this year for its applications that allow people to chat around the world using real-time translation.
Hyperconnect’s revenue rose 50 percent last year, and Meetup, while helping to find people with similar interests at local or online events, has seen a 22% increase since January in new members.
The word searched this year at Meetup has been “friends”.
‘Find companionship and connection’
These friendship services have increased user engagement since COVID-19 restrictions were gradually lifted around the world, allowing people to come together face to face, analyst Everwy Shweta Kharjuria said it makes sense to do business to judge more customers.
“This opens up the entire available market, only for individuals and married people,” he said.
Amos responded to the importance of physical contact by using a 22-year-old French au pair Bumble BFF in London.
“It’s hard to get the momentum going online and if the whole IRL (in real life) is closed,” he said. “You never connect until you meet people.”
Rosie, a 24-year-old dental nurse living in the city of Bristol in south-west England, tried to connect with her older colleagues during the closure and began using Bumble BFF three weeks ago to meet new people.
“I’m a very unsociable person and I like meeting new people, but I never found a chance. I’m just going to send Vodafone messages to this app quickly, it’s nice, it looks like a lot of girls are in my position, ”he said.
Nupur, a 25-year-old teacher in the western Indian city of Pune who uses Tinder and Bumble, said the app’s effort to promote themselves as a way to find friends and connections rather than love “can work very well”.
“I’ve met a couple of people online and now we’ve been together for over a year and we’re friends.”
In fact, networks of friends like MeetMe and Yubo have surpassed some well-known daily commitments in recent months in terms of daily engagement, according to market research firm Apptopia.
Jess Carbino, an expert in online dating and a former sociologist at Tinder and Bumble, told Reuters that social isolation has been “horrific” as a result of the pandemic, especially for single people living alone.
“(This) has encouraged people to use the tools at their disposal, which is to find technology, companionship and connection.”
‘Trends are there to stay’
LGBTQ + dating apps have done a lot to promote the social aspect of dating, Canaccord Genuity brokerage says China Blued offers surrogacy services, for example, and Taimi offers live streaming.
The Gay dating Hornet app, on the other hand, aims to be a social network focused on the personal interests of users, rather than a connection service based on physical appearance and proximity.
Hornet founder and CEO Christof Wittig said he would hardly return to “old ways” of connecting people with his community offline, such as nightlife, activism, or LGBTQ sporting events.
Witting said the number of users who click on news, comments and videos has risen 37% to May.
He said the search for friendship and online community has increased in blockchain as people turned to digital platforms when bars, gyms and pride events closed to get the feeling of being a member.
“These trends are there to stay,” he added. “Like video conferencing and teleworking.”