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Hello! I’m back from Thanksgiving break and now have mashed potatoes for brains. Really, I’ve eaten mashed potatoes five days in a row. I can stop, but I won’t stop until the leftovers are gone. Anyway, in between mashed potato servings, I did my best to “log off” and not think about audio – no offense – so instead, I binged the entire new season of Selling Sunset and played many crosswords. I’m back for you now, though, and we have a big issue ahead. We’re talking about how a dating app stumbled upon viral audio success, and I chatted with the CEO of podcasting’s latest $100 million-funded company, Podimo. Plus, an update to my RadioPublic story from last week and new Apple charts. Lots! Of! Stuff(ing)! On we go.
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Today’s main story is one best told in a couple parts. The first: Last month, the dating app Hinge debuted voice prompts to daters’ profiles. Instead of telling potential matches about yourself with text, you could do so with your voice. Each clip can be 30 seconds, and, at launch, Hinge said two out of three daters it polled thought voice would help them “better determine their chemistry” with someone.
Fast forward to now, and, well, voice prompts are certainly doing something. The prompts have gone viral on TikTok and Twitter, with people reposting them either because they’re funny, cringe-worthy, or something in between. There’s impersonations, singing, sincerity, and bizarre moments. NBC News wrote about the viral fad a couple weeks ago, which you can read here.
I reached out to Hinge to get more concrete data on how this feature is performing and whether going viral was part of the plan. The company tells me 13 percent of new daters on the app build their profile with a voice prompt and that 46 percent of people on the app have listened to at least one voice prompt. A slow build, but one Michelle Parsons, Hinge’s CPO, interprets as encouraging.
“If you imagine the amount of extra time that it takes to add any piece of information to your profile, it’s already a friction point. So we’re really excited with this, and our plans are to continue to help users see the value, and things like them going viral on TikTok has definitely been very helpful for us here,” she says. She also adds that these new users – the 13 percent integrating the feature – are seeking voice prompts out on their own because their creation isn’t part of the onboarding flow.
People on the app record their voice in response to their selected but Hinge-curated prompts, so they aren’t just talking about nothing for 30 seconds. The most popular prompt so far, per a spokesperson, is: “A life goal of mine.” The second most popular is “All I ask is that you.”
Throughout our chat, Parsons emphasized the reason Hinge thought voice prompts made sense in a dating app. Namely, if people are “trying to assess vibe, personality, what [a match] is looking for, [and] what’s it like to date them,” Hinge is best off giving them as much data as possible.
“Our goals are to get users off of the app and into a relationship, or at the very least into a good date, and the constructed, the curated, doesn’t always necessarily relate to a positive experience with another person, and so we want to help users showcase more of their personality, more authenticity, which really comes from your voice – it’s really hard to hack your voice,” she says, adding that the team didn’t see “very high adoption” of voice calling, another audio-oriented feature, likely because making a cold call to a stranger is more intimidating than firing off a 30-second clip and hoping for the best.