I Tried HER’s Dating App Hacks and Didn't Die of Embarrassment
I’m terrible at online dating. When I heard about these hacks, I figured it couldn't get worse.
I am terrible at online dating. I’m terrible at dating in general, but my go-to online dating move is to get a message from someone cute, and never ever respond. I need all the help I can get. So, when Robyn Exton, the CEO at Her (stylized as HER), a dating app centered on lesbian, bi, and queer women, asked me if I was interested in their latest study on the best hacks for their app, a small, scathing, and very single voice inside me hissed, "You need this."
The PR photos didn’t hurt. Who wouldn’t want to be in that pile of cute women?
According to Her’s study, there are six ways for users to get more likes, more messages, and more dates while using their app.
The first step was to sign up on a Sunday.
9 PM on a Sunday, to be exact.
"Of all the times of the week this is the absolute peak, with not only the highest number of new signups but also the greatest number of likes being dished out. As a new user you are 20% more likely to get a Like and 15% more likely to get a message."
So, last Sunday, I bought myself some stress ice cream, downloaded Her, and waited.
You sign up for Her through Facebook or Instagram. I chose Facebook, because my Instagram is 80 percent dog pictures and 20 percent meals for one. You also have to allow Her to access your location, but if you have a phone someone already knows exactly where you are all the time anyway, so with that pleasant thought in mind, I hit "Allow."
The second hack was to "upload a lot of pictures."
"To be precise, you want to upload 8 items to your profile. The profiles receiving the highest number of Likes had on average 8 pictures, with clear images of face and a full body photo."
This should’ve been an easy step, but somehow I don’t have eight pictures of myself taken in the last year. Should I take more pictures, or should I delve into the Body Positive Selfie Archives of my late college years? I compromised and took one new horrible picture and used two old pictures that kind of still look like me. I’m sure this is not the ideal way to do this hack, but it was also after nine at night, and I didn’t want to change clothes to take a picture of myself a hundred times and pick one where I didn’t look like I wanted to throw my phone out the window.
The third hack warns against too many pictures.
"Although 8 is optimum, as soon as you upload over 10 photos to your profile the chances of getting a like actually start to decrease. People like to see you, just not too much of you, apparently."
Fortunately I didn’t have this problem.
You're better off taking on a label.
"Profiles that have a sexuality label (as opposed to the status 'No Label') are 20% more likely to get a like. Whether it’s Fluid, Lesbian, Bisexual, Pansexual you name it, in dating, any label is better than none."
So, with my ideal eight pictures uploaded, and my sexual orientation labeled, I waited for the likes to roll in. And, oh my God, they did. About two minutes after I finished signing up, someone wanted to chat, which meant she liked one of my photos. Unsurprisingly, it was the photo of my dog trying to lick my face. (Thanks, buddy.)
I went to her profile, and she was incredibly attractive, which made me think, "Wow, I am so blessed to be queer." She also had over eight photos, which did not bother me. While I was messaging her, I scrolled through other profiles.
The major downside of Her is that everyone looks so cool that it’s difficult to work up the courage to actually like anyone. But as I was scrolling, I accidentally liked someone who was clearly out of my league. I will never stop feeling like my thumbs are too big to navigate an iPhone. Then, a tiny miracle happened. She liked me back.
Open with "Hey" instead of "Hi."
"Hey" was four times more popular as a conversation opener according to Her's study. My first message on Her was this stunningly creative gem: "Hey how was your weekend?" Amazingly, the conversation did not stop there.
Once I got over the initial fear of liking photos, I became a photo-liking fiend. I scrolled through hundreds of photos of Her users, liking photos of a chef, a dancer, a medical student, and dozens of pet owners posing with their fur-babies. I also noticed many Her users were non-binary. In the week that I was hacking the app, Her announced a major change—an option to list your gender on your profile.
"When we first started Her we were creating an app with a very specific set of users and a very specific problem in mind–helping lesbian and bisexual women find a date. It came from a personal problem: we’d been using products out there that just didn’t cut it, so we set about making something to improve the dating world for women.
But pretty quickly we realized how much bigger, broader and more diverse the community that Her should be for, was. Not just the people that were using it but how they were using. We added the social features and we opened up who the app was for. We updated our description to make it clear that we were now here for all the female and non-binary people out there, no matter what their sexuality was."
Her has a global and local feed for users to post their thoughts, so I followed along in the global discussion about the new feature. The majority of responses were supportive and positive, but some users wondered if a space that started as one for women should open their doors to other genders. I had already been messaging non-binary people, so it didn’t change how I was using the app.
Wait 44 messages before asking for someone’s number.
The study found that, "after 44 messages you are most likely to get a positive response when you go for the digits." Because users are relying mostly on photos (although there is an option to include small text boxes on your profile) to get a sense of who they want to message, users go into each interaction without a lot of information.
While I had a few false starts—message chains that petered out after six or seven exchanges—I actually prefer Her’s setup to OkCupid, the dating app I’ve used most in the past. Not only did I spare myself the messages from hetero couples looking to spice up their marriages, I also took more chances.
When it comes to online dating, I can be a judgmental jerk-face. Oh, you liked the wrong book? Skip. Oh, your six things you couldn’t live without weren’t creative enough? Skip. I am a terrible coward who will use any excuse I can find to avoid interaction, so the lack of information available on Her worked for me.
The other plus was that I couldn’t see how many people I’d liked. I got a notification each time one of those people also liked me, but I couldn’t scroll through the users who hadn’t responded and wonder where I went wrong (like I tend to with unanswered OkCupid messages).
In the five days I used Her, I talked to 11 users, interacted with a global and local community, and (drum roll here) actually landed a date. So, while I don’t have any hacks for IRL coffee dates, I do feel a little better about my chances of going on them in the future.
If you want to try the hacks for yourself, download Her from the iTunes App Store, or request to be notified when Her is available for Android here.