Last week, Tinder threw what is generally being described as a very public, cringe-inducing Twitter tantrum — deemed the Tinder Meltdown. Tinder’s rant, in the form of a series of “bizarre, defensive tweets,” was directed at Nancy Jo Sales, who wrote a recent Vanity Fair story detailing what she terms the “Dating Apocalypse” — that is, the hook-up culture centered around mobile dating apps like Tinder. Tinder apparently felt spurned by the piece and a resulting epic tweetstorm ensued. Tinder’s 30-tweet trainwreck garnered far more attention than the article that initially set it in motion, leading many to speculate that a trigger-happy social media intern would soon be taking the fall.
Interestingly enough — particularly to myself, having made a career out of managing crises and PR disasters — much of the conversation around the incident has circled around the PR implications of Tinder’s reaction. Some have called Tinder’s response a mindfully calculated and even successful PR stunt, while others describe the bizarre ramblings as a perfect example of “how not to PR.” The only real consensus seems to be that the tirade was both entertaining and captivating in its cringe-worthiness.
Unsurprisingly, it did eventually come to light that what initially appeared to be an emotionally driven, heat-of-the moment reaction of an individual Tinder employee on the warpath, was actually an intentionally planned-out PR move, albeit an incredibly misguided one. Yes, Tinder’s Twitter rant got a lot of people talking about Tinder — one need not be in PR or particularly astute to realize that the resulting press was essentially a free ad for the dating app — but in what manner and at what cost? It also had the effect of bringing a lot more attention to the original story that Tinder found so slighting in the first place. To be clear though, the actual harm goes far beyond airing their dirty laundry in public and thrusting one Vanity Fair writer’s criticism into the limelight.