By Shriya Roy
The world of dating hit a major roadblock with the coming of the pandemic, as going out and meeting people went out of fashion. Undeterred by the numerous restrictions, however, online dating apps promptly started working on expanding their digital footprint, starting with video dating features and multiple digital initiatives to keep users happy and hooked.
At the forefront is women-first social networking platform Bumble, which has started a host of new digital initiatives to facilitate dynamic, insightful and engaging conversations around dating, relationships and love with its community in India.
Bumble partnered with indie music podcast Made in India and creation festival India Film Project to develop dialogues in the form of podcasts. Titled ‘Is Romance Dead?’, Bumble’s new podcast is a series of eight episodes that explores the idea of romance through a distinctly Indian lens. Released on October 16, the episodes look at the viewpoints of prominent voices in the fields of music, food, literature, film and even science, including Vishal Dadlani, Nikhil D’Souza, Pooja Dhingra and Anupama Chopra, to name a few. “The world is a grim place, especially right now, but it was a pleasure to spend some time thinking about happier things like romance,” said film critic Chopra. Chef Dhingra says Bumble’s digital initiative was an exciting one and something that many will look forward to.
Apart from the podcast, the dating platform also developed a series of virtual workshops for its community of users called ‘Femmes in Film’, hosted by renowned women artistes like Sayani Gupta, Aranya Johar, Kanika Dhillon and Anjali Menon, that started on October 3. These workshops focus on acting, screenwriting, storytelling and filmmaking. To attend one of the workshops, a user has to download Bumble and match with the India Film Project profile available in Date, BFF or Bizz modes of the app.
In addition to this, Bumble is also bringing back its popular social media series ‘Not Another Lockdown Dating Show’ featuring actor Jim Sarbh, which is an episodic mini series that will be available on its Instagram’s IGTV platform. The mini series will be looking at the new rules of dating amidst the highs and lows of a Covid-stricken world.
Commenting on the digital engagements, Samarpita Samaddar, the PR director of Bumble India, said, “The pandemic has changed the way we communicate with each other, but what hasn’t changed is our need for meaningful connections. We’ve seen this proven in the way our community is continuing to use Bumble to make connections even when they are unable to meet in person. Whether it is our first-ever podcast or virtual workshops, the main aim of all these initiatives is to facilitate insightful and dynamic conversations around romance and dating in India. We are constantly striving to engage with and support our community in innovative ways as they navigate the new rules of dating.”
Apart from these digital initiatives, Bumble also added some new features on its app to help people communicate how they want to date in post-Covid times. This feature with badges will give Bumble users an opportunity to communicate how they are comfortable dating post lockdown and what kind of dates they would like to go on. The badges are virtual, socially-distanced or socially-distanced with masks. To add these dating badges to one’s Bumble profile, a user must go to ‘Edit profile’ and add the badge. Once this badge is added, one can filter potential matches who have selected the same dating preferences.
Bumble, however, is not the only one bringing in new features. Other apps have also followed suit. OkCupid has started suggesting its users virtual date ideas on what they can possibly do with someone they met online to help them get to know the match better. These include binge-watching stuff together, cooking, building a playlist and so on. The app has also partnered with YouTube channel ‘The Screen Patti’ to bring out a video about a couple that meets and dates online.
Dating app Tinder, too, rolled out the ‘passport’ feature, which was initially a paid feature, but was later made available for free. Tinder users can now search by city to begin liking and matching with other Tinder members in a destination of their choice and not have to only swipe around their current location as was the case earlier.
While there are aplenty innovations and features by dating platforms to keep users hooked, what will be interesting to see is if the virtual dating arena will sustain in the long run, especially as people start heading out.