THURSDAY: DATING DONE DIFFERENT
Imagine creating an app that only works 1 day of the week... and it being a huge hit!
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Seems like such an ordinary day.
Yet, this company is anything but ordinary.
Valuation: Unknown (private) - recently raised £2.5 million seed round.
App Downloads: 111k+ (June 2021)
The chances are you’ve probably never heard of Thursday. The app only launched in Spring 2021.
Let me get you up to date…
Thursday is a dating app that uniquely only runs on Thursday’s - yep, seems counterintuitive.
Here’s how the company explains it:
People are spending too much time on dating apps and it's an underwhelming experience. So we’ve built Thursday, where everything you want from online dating happens on one day. We’re on a mission to make dating exciting every Thursday as we encourage you to match, chat and meet the very same day. Why? Because there’s more to life than dating apps.
Their mission is simple “To make Thursday, the most exciting day to be single, every week.”
Making it happen is the hard part.
But let me tell you, they’re doing a darn good job of making it happen, just take a look at Thursday’s follower count on their socials:
Instagram - 165k
LinkedIn - 12.5k
This may not seem significant at first but when you compare it to their biggest competitor Tinder, with an Instagram following of 375k and LinkedIn of 75k. You realise that Thursday has made huge strides towards catching them - all within 7 months.
What’s the majority of their growth down to?
Insanely great marketing.
Breaking Down The Strategy
A word that probably gets spurted out at every digital marketing interview ever.
Lot’s of people claim to have it, the truth is, very few do.
Yes, if you make a new website you can claim you are very creative.
But when is the last time you came up with a truly spectacular and ORIGINAL (keyword) idea?
The chances are not very often - that’s okay we all have our own skillset.
At Thursday, creativity is something that they possess in heaps.
I’m not talking about million-dollar Chanel drone display creativity. I’m talking hilarious, unique, original ideas that could probably be funded with a 10-year-old’s pocket money.
This (above) is exactly what I’m talking about.
A bunch of balloons, a sharpie, some cardboard - oh and an intern - is all it took to make this awesome marketing stunt.
So simple, yet so effective. It takes an immense amount of creativity to create something, that is so simple, that is so effective.
This wasn’t just a one-off marketing stunt that took off, oh no, this is Thursday’s brand. A viral Thursday marketing stunt is a weekly occurrence, just take a look at some of their others:
Every single one is so simple, yet so great and so hilarious.
But why is it so great and why is it so effective?
Authenticity - The word ‘authentic’ has become somewhat of a buzzword online with every man and his dog preaching about it. They’re completely right though. People love to see the “true you” online whether that’s a person or a business.
Thursday does exactly that with these campaigns, they post the behind the scenes, they have the people within the company talk about it and it’s also not perfect. It allows people to get an idea of WHO Thursday is rather than what it is - it humanizes the company.
Comedy gold - It’s clear from the stunts that no one involved is taking it too seriously and the people love that. They aren’t out there handing out flyers in suits like most companies choose to do. Instead, they’re out there having fun and getting eyes on the brand. It’s a whole different take to “person to person sales” because, well, there’s absolutely no selling involved.
Stands out - Of course, standing out is essential to any marketing campaign and these do just that. They aren’t standing on the street with a bag of dates, instead, they are there with thousands of dates in baskets. It catches a passerby’s eye and a scroller’s too.
Undercover - I like to think of campaigns like this as an online campaign undercover. Yes, the stunt may have been done on the street but the exposure and “return” on the campaign happened online. It seems pretty simple to repurpose in person stunts to online material, yet very few brands have the success with it as Thursday do.
These stunts don’t make Thursday. These stunts are Thursday.
What do I mean by this?
All of Thursday’s marketing embodies the exact same theme as these stunts. It’s all imperfect, authentic and honestly hilarious.
They do things that are just seen as completely unreasonable in the corporate world. But that’s why people love them.
Just look at this LinkedIn post apologising for going viral. Bumble could never.
Which brings me to one of my favourite aspects of Thursday’s marketing - the mockery.
Often in business, your competitor’s name is like a sin to say and you certainly wouldn’t promote them on your platforms. Not Thursday, they do the exact opposite.
In fact, out of the 5 people, Thursday follows, 3 are their biggest competitors.
It may seem nothing but a rye joke that an intern came up with. But when you think of about, it’s a huge show of confidence from Thursday. They aren’t hiding from the “big dogs” of the industry, they are looking them square in the face and clowning them. Just take a look at Thursday’s co-founder egging on the competition on his LinkedIn after a copied billboard. (See Thursday’s original billboard below)
This brings me on to another thing I love about Thursday - I told you there was a lot. Which is their awesome use of what is now seen as “traditional advertising”.
If you walked into your marketing job at most startups and told them you think a billboard would be great advertising for the company, they’d probably think you were a fossil. But yet again, Thursday showed that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to be a creative genius. Instead, they took what already was and did something great with it! Take a look at some of my favourite Thursday billboards:
See how the mockery continues onto the billboards? I love it.
It’s just so different, so rebellious and that’s exactly why it works.
It’s a different take on marketing than any dating app I’ve seen - maybe even any company.
Where did the company get this crazy unique marketing strategy from? Well, who better to tell you than the co-founder George Rawlings.
(This is taken from a reply George made on one of his LinkedIn posts)
I’m always eager to learn as I don’t have a classical marketing background. Having said that, my instinct tells me that it’s time to move on from that anyway, especially when seeking to engage with people of my own generation. What is advertising if not the ability to engage and spark conversation? Sure, the stunt was cheeky for the brand but not detrimental (and that's the point), and, although contrived, it was still “authentic” as opposed to “shiny”. The “shock” element worked very well. [Thursday] is growing exponentially primarily due to word of mouth and our community like the boldness, daring nature of our marketing, so it is more important for us to get users on board directly at this time, than it is to simply promote “brand awareness” at this stage. Right now, they're following the founders story and personality while enjoying the app at the same time. They're part of it with us, not part of cheating and they know that. In fact, with a brand that is not yet well-known, perhaps now is a better time than ever to take such risks! In other words, without significant brand to protect, let’s have some fun and get people talking! Who dares, wins.
What an awesome way to look at things!
I could write about the lessons I’ve learned from Thursday’s marketing all day - I’m a huge fan of what they do. To me it’s all brilliant, the idea, how they delivered it and how they bring eyes to the company is impeccable. Here are the most important things that I think you should take away:
Real-life virality - When you think about all the clips, photos, posts that go viral nearly all of them are documenting something that happened in real life. Nearly all of Thursday’s viral online marketing actually happened in real life. Stop trying to come up with witty posts for LinkedIn, instead go out into the real world create something that resonates with people and creates some sort of emotion - whether it’s sadness or joy - and then bring the “real life” campaign online. Do real things then bring it online - not the other way around.
Do it differently - You don’t have to create the wheel to be creative. In fact, the most creative people are the ones able to do great things with “the wheel” we already have. Thursday didn’t revolutionise what dating was, instead, they just offered a different way (and view) on it. You don’t have to have a revolutionary product to have a successful business. Being different is a competitive advantage too.
The world is changing - Gone are the days of professional well structured social posts - especially with the young audience on the platforms. In 2021, it’s all about memes, openness and authenticity. It’s the imperfect posts that people love. They show you’re human and they allow the company to be relatable. Thursday embody this to the max where they have their interns out in the real world with cardboard posters. They make the company real and human.
Community, community, community - Listening and communicating with your audience is no longer optional - it’s a necessity. Thursday is renowned for having some of the quickest replies on LinkedIn. Whenever someone posts about the company you see their CEO and COO in the comments as well as the company page, almost immediately. They care about the people who support them and I think you’d be surprised at how far that goes.
How to Implement It
If you want to implement the same marketing strategy as Thursday the only advice you need is, don’t!
One of the main reasons Thursday’s marketing is so effective is because of how unique it is and how abstract their ideas are compared to other brands in the space. Thursday is great because they are doing it differently.
These may seem generic, but if you want to be the next Thursday:
Don’t be generic
Don’t hold back on your crazy marketing ideas
Open up your brand to the world
Share the story - not just the brand
Oh and most importantly the aim is always to spark conversation.
As George said so well:
“What is advertising if not the ability to engage and spark conversation?”
This has been a breakdown of Thursday’s marketing strategy. I hope you have learned something and can implement a similar strategy into your business!
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I’ll see you next Sunday!