No doubt Facebook has changed dating more than any communication technology since the telephone. But are you stuck poking and messaging your way to true love? Come, learn the techniques of the expert Facebook dater.
Why is Facebook at the cutting-edge of dating technology, when there are dozens of dating-specific services out there? For one thing, size: Facebook has 500 million users compared to Match.com's 15 million. But mainly it's about atmosphere. A dating service is a douchey single's bar; the pressure to appeal to the opposite sex means dating site members usually craft their profiles to resemble stock characters in a crappy rom-com. But Facebook is the laid-back house party. All your friends are there. It's casual. The music's better. *
Facebook has of course played a huge role in dating forever. But a couple recent developments have made the platform even more effective. Check them out:
The Friend Browser
A relatively new feature, the Friend Browser should be the command center of the Facebook dater, as it lets you mine the richest romantic vein of all: Friends of friends. Put the name of a friend in, and you can see a list of all their friends laid out in an attractive grid. It's basically a buffet of highly-accessible cuties.
- Load the Friend Browser at: http://www.facebook.com/find-friends/b…
- Filter by your most attractive and well-connected friends to find their attractive friends.
- Filter by location to make sure they're accessible.
- Find the guy/girl of your dreams, and have your mutual friend invite you both to the same fondue party.
- Start planning the wedding
* A caveat: It's easy to feel like finding a date on Facebook is a matter of high-tech stalking. But think like Facebook, which treats all user data as grist for its advertising mill: People chose to upload their appealing profile pictures and intriguing favorite quotes with full knowledge that they will be seen and mulled over. If this data happens to be seen by a potential romantic partner who then courts them, well, what did they expect? That amorous fixation is a strictly an analog phenomenon? Your right to court a Facebook user is practically in the Terms of Service.
OK, this one is a little strange. A surprising number of people are using Facebook's ads to launch surgical dating strikes on Facebook users. Anyone can buy an ad on Facebook complete with their beautiful face and a short blurb. Facebook's granular targeting allows you to display your classified ad only to the significant other of your dreams. Are you yearning for the one 29 year-old guy in New York who's into yoga, dogs, the Miami Dolphins, ancient Roman friezes and the rap group Dipset? You can create an ad targeted to that exact individual, provided he listed his eclectic interests in his profile.
Internet marketing expert Matt Simpson launched a Facebook ad campaign consisting of nine different ads: "Hi! I'm an active, aware 30-something seeking a balanced woman like you!" In five days Simpson, who seems like a perfectly nice dude, had spend about $20 and received 30 clicks and 5 "leads." He does not elaborate on the meaning of "leads". A marketing expert never promotes and tells.
- Visit http://www.facebook.com/advertising and click "create an ad"
- There's not much room to make the case on a Facebook ad: It allows just a short title and a 135 character blurb. (You can include a link to your homepage or Facebook profile.) But a single tweet has been known to send a nerd head-over-heels.
- Targeting the ad is where you'll live or die. You can target based on almost any characteristic in a person's profile: relationship status, interests, education, etc. Make the ad as specific or as broad as you want.
Dating applications exist for Facebook. You should not use them unless you are a Midwestern divorcee whose friends are all married.
Even then, you should just use a dating website. As much as browsing normal dating sites like Match.com can inspire occasional pangs of despair, using a Facebook dating application is like looking into the black hole at the center of the galaxy of human loneliness. I just browsed two of the most popular dating applications—Are You Interested? and Zoosk—for a few minutes. The majority of members seem to be children or animals. There is another popular application called GirlsDateFree, which takes the proven real-world nightmare of a single's bar Ladies Night into the digital age.
Dating apps also have the annoying habit of announcing to your entire social network that you have installed a dating app. A final drawback: Most Facebook dating applications are highly hetero-centric. Plus, you usually have to pay to send people messages with these applications; why wouldn't you just look them up on Facebook?
It's easy these days to forget that you can meet people offline, as well as on Facebook. Facebook events make it easy to figure out if a party you've been invited to is worth attending, from a hook-up perspective. Unfortunately it's usually the most unattractive people who bother to respond to Facebook event invites. What else do they have to do?
Messaging Random People
Facebook has over 600 million users. Why limit your dating pool to only those that you have a connection with? Get drunk and try searching for random first names. Go alphabetically: "Abigail, Adrienne, Adele." Send a flirty message to every "Anna" and see what happens. What will probably happen is your Facebook account will get banned. But who knows.