Finding the right words to start a conversation can be hard, especially if you're talking to a stranger on a dating app.
The most successful openers, it turns out, are positive, thoughtful, creative and slightly personalized. That's according to Hinge, a popular matchmaking service which connects users based on shared Facebook friends. Hinge published a report Thursday on the best ways to start a conversation with your matches and improve your chances of getting a response.
The report is the result of a month-long experiment, during which members of the Hinge team crafted over 100 different openers and let a small portion of its users access them. Whenever the app matched those people with someone new, it sent them a prompt to use one of the conversation starters. The company then tracked what lines were sent most frequently and measured response rates to detect trends.
Here are the best tips Hinge gleaned from its study:
1) Don't open with "Hey"
If you're really, really hoping to get a response from your match, a vague greeting won't get you stellar results. As far as response rates go, “Hey” performs at average, while “Hey, what’s up” performs at 4 percent above average.
"We’re aiming to help users do better than average, and are thus showing examples of the types of things that do better than a generic opener," Karen Fein, Hinge’s vice president of marketing, told The Huffington Post. "That said, there are also openers that do far worse than 'Hey, what’s up.' ... The poorest performers are typically negative or pessimistic in tone."
Instead, people are more likely to respond to messages that display a unique question about lifestyle, food preferences or musical taste:
2) Know your match's age
If you're using a dating app that shows a person's age on their profile, that information might come in handy when you're sending a first message.
Matches tend to respond to different types of questions, depending on their age, according to Hinge's study. People 18-23, for example, value questions that are novel and surprising, like this: "Pain reliever personality: Advil, Tylenol, or complaining?"
3) Send food questions to ladies, invites to guys
Want to grab a woman's attention? Don't use a creepy pick-up line. (No one likes those.) Instead, talk about food: Hinge's report found that women are 40 percent more likely to reply to a message regarding food or culinary trends.
Men like to receive direct, assertive messages, and they're 98 percent more likely to respond to invitations such as "Drinks soon?" or "Free this week?"
4) Understand local preferences
People in different cities respond to different topics, Hinge found.
In Los Angeles, entertainment rules. For conversation starters referencing celebrities, people in L.A. responded 75 percent more frequently than users in any other city.
In Washington, D.C., you might want to ask about cheese. Opening lines that specifically mentioned the dairy product received 58 percent more responses.
5) Don't dilly-dally
If your app matches you with someone you really fancy, yet you're not sure how to make the first move, waiting things out might not be the best idea.
According to the Hinge report, men and women differ when it comes to waiting for a match to send the first message. For instance, if you wait longer than 6 hours to message a man, the likelihood he'll respond drops by 25 percent. Women tend to be more patient. If you don't message a woman within the same time period, the chance she'll respond drops by only 5 percent. Wait for several more hours, however, and her response rate starts to fall faster.
Keep that in mind.