A lot of people talk about opening lines, whether it’s debating the best thing to say to get someone’s attention or taking screenshots of the most awkward ones.
But Hinge, a popular dating app that introduces users to friends of friends, says it has figured out the best conversation starters. The app, which raised a $12 million Series A round of funding last year, conducted a month-long study, analyzing data from their users.
“Everyday, the Hinge team is asked if we know the secret to starting a great conversation that will actually lead somewhere,” says Karen Fein, Hinge’s VP of Marketing. “Frankly, we didn’t! Since it’s our mission to help users move beyond the swipe, to connect over something interesting and to ultimately meet up — we decided to find out.”
Here are some of Hinge’s findings. If you take nothing else away from their results, just know that pretty much anything you say to a new match is better than a simple “hey.”
The same opening lines don’t work on men and women.
To collect information on how its users respond (or don’t respond) to opening lines, Hinge’s data analysts and copywriters came up with 100 opening lines, and then showed a selection of them to some of their users to see how they’d respond.
Hinge says that men are 98% more likely than women to respond to assertive, invitational messages, so ask him to get drinks or grab dinner. Women, on the other hand, are 40% more likely to respond to food related opening lines.
Men have short attention spans.
Hinge says you should message men right away because their attention spans tend to be shorter. If you don’t message a guy within 6 hours, the likelihood he’ll respond drops by 25%.
Women, Hinge finds, tend to be more patient. If you don’t message her within 6 hours, the chance she’ll respond only drops by 5%.
The best opening line to use depends on how old the person you’re talking to is.
If you’re talking to someone who’s 18 to 23, Hinge suggests a “novelty” or surprising opener.
If you’re trying to chat up someone who’s 24-28, Hinge says to start a conversation based around lifestyle or activities, so ask about brunch preferences or what they like to do on a Sunday.
29 to 34 year olds in Hinge’s study tend to respond more to more personal conversation starters. Ask them something about themselves!
If you’d like to talk to someone who’s 35 or older, Hinge suggests conversation starters with pop culture references.
The best opening lines vary by city.
People in San Francisco respond more to opening lines that play off of nostalgia or their childhoods.
Los Angelinos, unsurprisingly, respond more to conversation starters involving celebrities.
If you’re in Boston, Hinge suggests, use a straightforward or cynical opening line. A simple “hey, what’s up?” will do.
New Yorkers are more responsive to opening lines that invoke escaping reality. Hinge suggests: “Choose: adult treehouse or the ability talk to animals?”
Hinge users in Washington DC responded more to food-related opening lines — but specifically opening lines that mentioned cheese, for some reason.
Start a conversation with a reference to 90s culture if you’re in Chicago — Hinge users there, apparently, love talking about being 90s kids.
The worst way you can start a conversation is with a too-simple “hey.”
The best way to get someone’s attention, Hinge concludes, is by offering something other than a mundane “Hi” or “Hey, what’s up?” Try to be unique — without being gross, of course — and you’ll get people’s attention.