Ilana Dunn, an Armonk native and Byram Hills graduate, has become the Face of Modern Day Dating.
After a stint in the music industry, including on Nick Jonas’ private management team, Ilana scored a job as a video and content producer at Hinge – the dating app used by millions, and especially popular amongst the millennial generation.
“I’m not sure I was actually qualified, but I convinced them I was. “My job was to be the ‘Face’ of Hinge; get people engaged; create a positive impression of the brand. When I started, Hinge was still a start-up, so I could do anything I wanted, and experiment and run with wild ideas. I created segments like ‘Dump or Deal’ where I went out into public spaces and asked people, Jay Leno style, if something would be worth putting-up with, or was good cause for dumping a date; I hosted a set of awards, and; I produced brief episodes discussing the biggest pain points daters face in modern dating.”
At one point during her tenure at Hinge, Ilana even started a podcast with a guy who she had met on a Hinge date. “We matched in the Summer of 2019 and had an amazing first date – like something out of a Bachelor 1:1 episode.
And there was a second and a third date, but I had recently gotten out of a relationship that I just wasn’t over, and although I really like Jonah as a person, I wasn’t really ready to be in a relationship. So we agreed to stay in touch. … I genuinely meant that I wanted him in my life in some capacity, and so a few months later we met up as friends, and came up with the idea for ‘Dating Sucks,’ a Hinge-produced podcast about the ups and downs of dating.”
But as the content strategy at Hinge changed, Ilana “…realized that I wanted to be able to run with my own ideas and have creative license, and that I probably wasn’t going to be truly happy working at any company.” Then the pandemic hit, and while quarantined at her parents’ house in Armonk, Ilana reached out to her old co-host of the podcast ‘Dating Sucks’, Jonah, with a new idea… “let’s start a podcast of our own!”
The pair re-launched their podcast in January 2021, under the new name, Seeing Other People. The podcast already has 20 episodes, a handful of Patreon subscribers, a merch store, and a corporate sponsor! In addition to the podcast, the Seeing Other People brand has amassed over 9k followers on @seeingotherpeople, and Ilana, separately, has over 9k followers on her personal account. All of their content, from the podcast to Instagram posts and reels, to TikTok videos, is all centered in the idea that everyone is
going to have a different dating experience – and that’s okay – but people can feel more comfortable by talking about it, and hearing about what others have been through. “We don’t want someone to feel bad for double texting, or for being too forward on a date. There are no real rules for dating, and so we just want to help people feel comfortable and confident in what they’re doing…and laugh off the bad dates together,” Ilana said.
Although the podcast is one vehicle for their brand, Ilana explained that a lot of their engagement comes from short-form content. “I learned so much from my time in the content division at Hinge. I was able to use that time to figure out what people are going to enjoy but not necessarily ‘like’, and what will get people to ‘like’ a post but maybe spend less time on it… and I’ve been able to apply all of that to the Seeing Other People brand. Most people aren’t going to discover us and immediately become podcast listeners, so it’s really about mastering this formula for 30-second clips that become Instagram reels and TikTok videos. It’s soundbites really. That’s what goes viral.” And it’s clear that Ilana does know what she’s doing! In just the last few months, Ilana and Jonah have had TikToks with hundreds of thousands of views, and Instagram reels that have hit 561k and 911k views! It’s as simple as putting a song on a meme (generally defined as a humorous photo with text or a post that contains just text that’s spread and shared rapidly by social media users), but the important part is creating memes that users will identify with and share. Instagram Reels has turned into the biggest form of discovery for the Seeing Other People brand, and is how most new listeners are arriving at the @seeotherpeople podcast. Ilana credits this grassroots method with the podcast and the brand’s initial and early success: “When people enjoy our content and it’s in a shareable, digestible format, like an Instagram post, they’ll share it with friends or post it to their own story… That’s how we get the word to spread quickly and how we get people to find out about us.”
In addition to the heavy social media focus, the pair have also been making guest appearances on other podcasts with cult followings including We Met At Acme and Brunch Boys’ Jeremy Jacobowitz’s ‘Brunch With ____’ podcast.
And about the transition from being the ‘Face’ of Hinge to now becoming, more generally, the ‘Face of Modern Day Dating’, Ilana says, “I love everything about what I’m doing. I like the entrepreneurial process. I feel like everything I did in college and in my previous jobs gave me the right tools to make this happen. And it’s really exciting to just go for it…and then really make it happen!”