Facebook made several attempts to break into the dating market over the years, none of them successful, but now LGBTI dating app TAIMI wants to evolve into a social network.
The early experience suggests it may have better luck.
According to founder Alex Pasykov, who also previously launched another dating app, Hily, “We’re currently in the process of enhancing and expanding the world’s largest LGBTQI+ platform.”
Dating will remain a key part of the app, he said, “However we have shifted our focus to the social network and have seen steady growth in terms of numbers.“
So far the data suggests the shift is helping to build engagement. Since March 2020 the numbers have grown by more than 50 per cent, there has been an increase in daily activity with users spending on average 30 per cent more time posting stories, reading digest, and sharing content, he said.
The company is also developing new initiatives including live streams. “Video calls are an essential part of communication not only for those looking for a date but also for people who are just getting acquainted with one another.”
Pasykov told Which-50 “The decision to grow Taimi as a social network came after we saw that LGBTQ+ people really don’t have a safe place to express their thoughts and opinions. The idea to go from a gay dating app to a full-fledged platform that features different aspects comes after we’ve had a lot of input from our users.”
He said this reflects the company culture that is open to user feedback. “In fact, we welcome new ideas for features and platform changes, so making the product available to everyone who is LGBTQI+ only made sense. “
Unlike Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other social networks that are fuelled by advertising, users of dating apps are more familiar with user-pays models.
Indeed Pasykov makes the point that paid models are not new in the app industry.
“Most apps bombard their users with ads – we chose not to do that in order to provide the best user experience possible. During the initial registration, the user can easily skip the trial offer and use the app for free, so no tricks there.”
Currently, more than 70 per cent of Taimi users use the app for free, however, he says there is a direct link between user experience and purchases.
“That means that if a user likes the features and the people they’re chatting with, they are more likely to activate a paid subscription. Users that prefer social networks over dating tend to subscribe less since most additional features are geared towards dating. In terms of functionality – most users prefer the added security and extra perks that come with a paid subscription.”
He also stressed that Taimi, which is currently available in 45 countries is not trying to emulate other social networks. “Instead we are building our own unique product, some features work well right away, others are still a work in progress, we try to listen to user feedback and fix our mistakes.”
Users we interviewed on Taimi still see it primarily as a dating app, though they said the social elements were growing on them. And whether by design or accident most said the environment was more respectful than other apps.
Taimi user Darlene, a Sydney based trans woman says she is grateful to have a platform for the LGBTQ+ community to help her find a soulmate.
“I’m looking for a long term relationship and the other things are secondary. If I gain social media friends that’s great and I’ve made a few from Taimi but I’m really looking for a partner.”
Darlene says she will always typically get more visibility on the mainstream public platforms because of their scale. “Taimi is quite small right now, it’s catering more to just the LGBTQ+ community. So the advantage is it’s very specific. ”
But she says, “Not all LGBTQ+ people are interested in LGBTQ+ only. LGBTQ+ people should have a public platform where we can be ourselves and show to the rest of the world. That’s what we want to do.”
That said, she has found the social aspects useful, “I appreciate the app for what it is because it’s giving the LGBTQ+ community a platform.”
She also said that for her, the experience as a trans woman on other platforms can be quite unpleasant.
“Yeah, when I go on to their social pages in Facebook or whatnot, if I write a comment in there, they quickly delete my comment. I think they’re just sexually discriminating, those heterosexual-based apps. All dating apps should have male, female, they should add LGBTQ+ to this, but don’t say ‘other’ because other sounds like something alien. Have a drop-down menu where you can say you’re transsexual or female to male, all those different gender identifications. Taimi is doing a good job at that for recognizing my people, so I appreciate that.”
She also said that while there are connections to other services such as Instagram, these could be tighter.
For his part, Pasykov says, “ I think the best way to put it, we’re flexible when it comes to improvements and changes, things that major players tend to be afraid of, we aren’t scared to try. Our goal is to provide the best possible user experience, to react in time, and make the right decisions quickly and efficiently.”