How College Girls Jumpstarted Tinder

Attacking the right nodes in a network

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Read Time: 11.4 Minutes

Happy Sunday Operators ⚙️

Cornerstone, the professional COO group we are launching, has some awesome people on the waitlist. While I won’t namedrop (sorry I don’t kiss and tell), here are brief backgrounds:

  • Series B software COO who has raised over $35 million

  • COO of an agency acquired for over $50 million

  • COO of 8-figure design agency

And plenty more. If you want to join the waitlist, just provide your name and Linkedin here.

While building Cornerstone, I gotta remember who the community's most important “nodes” will be. By serving these “nodes”, Cornerstone should grow in time.

Who did I learn this node idea from? Tinder of course!

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Setting the Stage

Sorority Girls Hold the Power

Before Tinder, finding love through digital platforms was often a drawn-out experience. Users had to:

  • fill out long questionnaires

  • create detailed profiles

  • sift through many potential matches

before even having the opportunity to connect with someone.

For college students, this was a challenging situation. Juggling busy schedules, limited budgets, and a preference for casual interactions, students found it hard to navigate online dating.

Also, the stigma surrounding online dating was still very much present, particularly among the college crowd. Many students viewed dating sites as reserved for older individuals rather than a tool for young people.

This perception made it difficult for existing platforms like Match.com to gain traction on college campuses. This left a significant gap in the market for a dating app that catered to college kids.

So Tinder tried to solve this problem.

Tinder's goal was to make online dating feel like a game by stripping away the lengthy sign-up process.

The app's emphasis on swiping right to prevent feelings of rejection and its location-based matching system also made it easier for students to connect with people quickly (whether for a quick hookup or a more large relationship).

But this doesn't solve the network problem of getting college users to join the app in the first place.

To solve any marketplace problem, you need to understand the dynamic of the social network you are serving.

Tinder realized by targeting the most interconnected nodes within a network, they could unlock fast growth.

In the context of college campuses, these nodes were sorority girls (duh)!

Greek life is a cornerstone of the American college experience, with sororities and fraternities shaping campus social dynamics.

Sorority girls, in particular, often held a central position within these social networks. These girls wield influence over their peers and set trends that could quickly spread throughout the student body.

By focusing their efforts on this key node, Tinder could tap into the power of social proof and FOMO (fear of missing out) to create a viral effect.

However, sorority girls were often inundated with social invitations and had high standards for the experiences they chose to engage with.

Tinder needed to find a way to cut through the noise and create a compelling value proposition that would resonate.

Ops Tactic: To drive rapid organic growth when building a network, focus on targeting and catering to your market's most sought-after group.

Why this Matters

Get the Right People in for Free Growth

Establishing a strong user base and gaining market traction can make all the difference between success and failure.

Focusing on the most sought-after group within your target market can help drive this. By prioritizing these influential nodes, you can unlock a powerful growth engine that will propel your business forward.

Here's why you should care about this strategy:

  1. Accelerated user acquisition: When you onboard the most influential members of your target market, you tap into their extensive social networks. These individuals have the power to influence the behavior of their peers

  2. Increased user engagement and retention: By catering to their needs, you can foster a sense of loyalty and enthusiasm that keeps them coming back to your platform. This can help to create a vibrant community that attracts and retains other users.

  3. Enhanced social proof and credibility: When the most sought-after me

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