On The Cards
Bearing in mind Facebook’s origin as a college dating website and Mark Zuckerberg’s early ‘Facemash’ program, and the fact that Facebook is known to have been wanting to move into online dating for at least 10 years, this move has been on the cards.
There are several key reasons why Facebook has chosen to actually make the move into the online dating world. These include:
- The need to make people spend longer on the Facebook platform (and not on other platforms). For example, time spent by Facebook users on the platform fell by 50 million hours a day in 2017.
- The need to attract more young people to the platform.
- The commercial attractiveness of the booming and growing dating market.
- The fact that there are 200 million people on Facebook that list themselves as single.
- The fact that Facebook already holds many facets of information about users that could be used for matching and dating purposes e.g. interests, local events they could attend.
How Will It Work?
The proposed platform is an optional feature that users will be able to use by clicking on a heart shape at the top-right corner of the Facebook app, and setting up a dating profile. The profile will be based on a first name, won’t be visible to friends and users who aren’t on the dating feature, and won’t show up in the News Feed.
Once set up, users can browse events in their local and groups that match their interests, select ‘unlock’ for dating, and then be able to see the profiles of other potential dates who have unlocked that surface. These profiles will show a few photos plus some basic information about potential dates.
The system will not work using the “swipe” left or right on potential matches like Tinder, but there will be two buttons for “pass” and “interested.”
Users will be able to start a conversation with a potential match by commenting on one of their photos, but the conversations will be text-only, thereby eliminating the risk of unsolicited nude photos being sent. Conversations will take place in a special inbox that’s separate from Messenger and WhatsApp.
In the wake of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has been quick to stress that the service has been built and will operate with an emphasis on privacy.
Not Just Hook-Ups
Facebook has also said that the new dating service is intended to be a standalone feature that will focus on legitimate long-term relationships, rather than just hook-ups. There are already many stories of couples who have met via the normal Facebook platform.
Dating Service Competitors – Stock Value Falls
Shortly after Mark Zuckerberg announced the move into the dating arena, and even though Match Group CEO Mandy Ginsberg said that she was flattered by Facebook’s entrance into its space, Match’s stock traded down about 22%. Match is the owner of mobile dating apps Tinder and OkCupid and describes itself (on its website) as the “global leader” in online dating.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
If it wasn’t for the recent scandal about data sharing with Cambridge Analytica and the lack of trust that it has created, Facebook would be almost perfectly position to seriously and quickly take on the current online dating giants such as Match. It remains to be seen, therefore, how quickly Facebook users forget or are willing to throw caution to the wind with the promise of powerful motivators and positive reinforcement in the form of dates and possibly, a love match.
Some competitors, such as Bumble, have seen Facebook’s move as an opportunity rather than just a threat, and Bumble has reportedly reached out to Facebook to explore ways to collaborate.