Trend Alert: Personals

Trend Alert introduces you to the latest brands, products and services that are trending with 16-24s.

Young LGBTQ+ Instagrammers have pioneered a new way of finding love online, taking inspiration from the personal ads that came long before dating apps. The Instagram account @_personals_ has accumulated over 50,000 followers, and its creator Kelly Rakowski is now working on an app to capitalise on its success.

While dating apps have become the typical way to meet a partner for Millennials, Gen Z are using the social media platforms where they feel most comfortable, and where they already spend most of their time online. As discussed in our latest Youth Trends Report, they are conscious of how their social profiles might be perceived, and see them as a means to define and display their personal brand. Therefore, it’s natural for Gen Z to use social media to attract a partner, and to connect with a potential match. After all, is is worth spending hours crafting a dating profile when you already have a perfectly curated representation of your life over on Instagram?

The LGBTQ+ community has been ahead of the game when it comes to dating trends, with gay hookup app Grindr getting big years before Tinder, its (predominantly) straight equivalent. Particularly in locations such as rural areas where there aren’t many opportunities to meet other queer people in person, the internet has been a great tool for this group. Now, they’re leading the way with a new method of making connections online, the social media personal ad.

Personal ads were short, text-only adverts that appeared in newspapers, and later on classified sites like Craigslist. @_personals_ uses the style of the personal ad to promote LGBTQ+ singles, directing interested parties to their Instagram account to see more and get in touch. The ads typically state the person’s age, location and sexual orientation, plus a description of themself and what they are looking for. The comments are filled with supportive messages from followers hoping they find their perfect match, and the account shares heartwarming success stories in their Instagram Stories.

@_personals_ is a perfect fit for the LGBTQ+ community, and its cute, DIY aesthetic appeals to creative young Instagram users. Its success has already inspired other communities to create their own versions, such as @redyenta (for socialist singles), @disabled_personals and more. The trend is a great example of how, despite the negative effects it can have, social media is also bringing together young people looking for connections and community.

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