Upward, owned by Match group, is a Christian dating app designed to facilitate meaningful connections among individuals sharing similar faith-based values. Despite the crowdedness of the dating app landscape, we set out to elevate Upward's TikTok presence, foster an audience of loyal viewers, and build a robust community around the brand that went beyond the app itself.
A big challenge of establishing a community around Christian discourse and dating is marrying humor with relatability. The key was to focus less on religious dogma and more about shared experiences that Christian and non-Christian communities alike could relate to. This meant finding the right balance between Christian-specific humor and dating-related humor — niche enough to appeal to the Christian community, while remaining inclusive and relatable to non-Christian audiences to avoid alienation.
Winning on TikTok starts with carving out a corner on the internet that allows you to build a niche community. While relatability is important, it was ultimately about embracing Upward’s identity as a Christian dating app and going all-in with content that speaks to a larger Christian audience, rather than going down the route of generic dating content that would hinder true differentiation and put Upward in direct competition with other apps that lack such an inherent affinity focus.
Our execution strategy involved rapid content experimentation across specific content buckets that then evolved based on content performance and audience feedback. We identified initial content pillars based on Upward’s brand identity: general dating content, Christian-specific experiences, and product-specific information. As we experimented, Christian-specific and humorous content emerged as top performers. We found that going niche is key — making the relatability as specific as possible and embracing the niche thinking, as general dating content would have watered down Upward’s identity. With this insight, we then introduced a new content bucket, which focused on a blend of dating experiences and Christian content, that successfully garnered views and engagement through humorous skits surrounding dating experiences within the Christian community.
The campaign achieved remarkable cultural impact, generating over 3.5 million organic impressions within six months, with an average engagement rate of 10%. Series like "Going to a [Denomination] Church for the first time" surpassed industry norms, garnering over 2 million total views and an average engagement rate of 14%, exemplifying the resonance of relatable Christian experiences beyond the app landscape.