Facebook Swipes Right

In May, Zuckerberg took the stage at Facebook’s 8th annual developers’ conference and announced his latest venture, Facebook Dating. Users create profiles that include their occupations, education, and interests to connect with others in their areas in the hope of finding a relationship. Users who opt-in can only be seen by others who’ve opted-in. Their profiles will also not be visible to Facebook friends, which will help avoid the awkward situation of finding your aunt on Facebook Dating. Facebook will show relevant profiles based on the users’ interests and if they have any mutual friends. There’s also the option to browse events and groups in their area and “unlock” them in order to see other users in the area who’ve unlocked the event, making a first date spot a lot easier to choose. If 2 people express interest in each other, they can message each other in either Messenger or WhatsApp (both owned by FB). Facebook also plans on limiting the number of people that a user can be interested in to encourage genuine interest and more meaningful matches.

The new feature will be launched within the existing Facebook App rather than as a standalone app. Facebook used a similar tactic with the Messenger app, which was originally launched within the existing Facebook app before becoming the 4th most popular app in the store (Facebook is currently the 5th). The purpose of launching a separate app in 2014 was because Zuckerberg wanted the regular app to just be a news feed (which it has long since pivoted from). Facebook also saw 10 billion messages sent every day that users needed to enter Facebook and click a separate tab in order to respond to. If Facebook Dating really takes off, it’s likely that Facebook will release the service as a standalone app to encourage users to engage with the platform beyond the normal Facebook app and to separate the idea of having all of your friends and relationships in the same app.

The online dating world has come a long way from its inception in 1995 with the launch of Match.com, a website aimed at matching couples looking for long-term relationships based on their interests. There was once a stigma surrounding meeting your partner online, but recent trends have made it closer to the norm. With 50 million active users and 1.6 billion swipes per day, Tinder has changed the online dating landscape in just 6 years. Users can find a partner on the same day with just the swipe of a finger.

Tinder disrupted the online-dating industry by targetting mainly university students and minimizing friction in the matching process. The popularity of the app, especially in the 18-24 age range, has had a huge effect on reducing the stigma of meeting people online. Because of this, dating apps now are more successful than ever. As of 2018, 331.3 million people around the world actively use online dating sites. The industry as a whole generated $1.4 billion in revenue in 2017 with Match Group Inc., owner of over 45 brands including Match.com, Tinder, and OkCupid, leading the market ($12.2 billion market cap). The announcement of, “Facebook Dating”, alone was enough to cause Match Group to lose 22% of its share price. The CEO of Match Group was quoted biting at Zuckerberg, “Come on in. The water’s warm. Their product could be great for US / Russia relationships.”

The competition can be measured along 2 axes: commitment involved, and how niche it is. Some apps like Tinder and Match.com are suitable for every group (eg. any orientation, any race) while apps like EastMeetEast and Grindr fit specific niches (eg. ethnic groups, non-heterosexual). These apps can also be organized by the length or seriousness of the relationships that users are looking to find. Tinder falls closer to the side of one-night-stand and casual relationships, while OKcupid and Bumble push their users towards long-term relationships. Facebook Dating aims at the extreme of both; it has mass appeal and aims at forging real commitments.

FacebookPerceptionMap.png

As society becomes more comfortable with online dating, Facebook decides to throw itself into the ring. With Facebook Dating, Zuckerberg has an advantage that no competitor can even begin to compete with, 2.2 billion active users, 1.45 billion of whom use the website daily.  Dating apps rely heavily on network effects; with more users on the platform, the quality and quantity of the matches will be higher, and the more data Facebook can collect and use in their algorithms. If even a quarter of the users on Facebook opted-in (500,000,000 people), Facebook Dating would become the largest dating app in the world. With the data collected from those users, Facebook could create an incredibly tailored algorithm for creating the “best” matches.

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9 thoughts on “Facebook Swipes Right

  1. I had no idea that Facebook was launching a dating app! This really opens the door to Facebook taking over other types of social platforms. The inclusion of dating with social media also creates an opportunity for other sites such as Instagram, Twitter, or even Netflix to match users based on their interests.

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    • Captivating blog! I am interested to see if Facebook Dating will be able to reach both the mass appeal and long-term relationship target, as I would have initially thought they would follow the path of Tinder. Allison also brings up an interesting point that other social media platforms may consider going in this direction as well if Facebook finds it to be successful.

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  2. Great blog! It’s interesting to see how Facebook is leveraging its large network by entering this new market. One of the articles we read on “Sharing Economy” last class mentioned that an industry can be disrupted by competitors from seemingly unrelated industries. This is a great example of that. Thanks for adding the positioning map for a better visual understanding of where FB stands in comparison to other companies in the same market!

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  3. This is so crazy, but I am not surprised that Facebook is entering into the dating aspect of a social network. Facebook’s brand and name has clearly already had effect on disrupting this industry (based on the stock price drop of Match.com), but I wonder if people will be hesitate to try Facebook dating since it’s an app known for the older generations. I’m interested to see how this app influences Facebook popularity with the younger generations!

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  4. Wow, great job! I had no idea facebook was launching a dating service. I think that this will quickly become the biggest online dating platform by far! Facebook’s network is so vast, and the process for opting in will be so much easier than downloading Tinder or Bumble which exist as completely different apps. I also think that this stands a good chance of eliminating the negative stigma sometimes associated with online dating. People are sometimes embarrassed to tell their friends that they’re on Tinder, but everyone is already on Facebook! So it seems more likely that it’ll become normalized. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. This is pretty much Facebook’s MO. When interesting apps begin to get traction, they either buy them or copy them. I’m wondering if it will be successful in this instance, because some people might want some separation from their real world identity when looking for dates. I’m thinking protection from stalkers.

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  6. Great blog! I had no idea that Facebook was doing this, and can definitely see how their current user base and platform are ready for this innovation. I think something interesting here that relates to our last class is the importance of trust. There is oftentimes a lack of trust or serious commitment to dating on apps such as Bumble or Tinder. However, Facebook has already acquired a sense of trust and validity among its users (not so much their content). Therefore, they truly have the opportunity to create a dating platform where people are genuinely interested in connecting and building long lasting relationships. Thanks for sharing!
    – Nick

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  7. Great post! Even though I had no idea that Facebook was coming out with an online dating extension of their platform, it surprises me that they had not developed this idea already since Facebook is already such a massive conglomerate. It will be interesting to follow the success of Facebook Dating and its impact on the online dating world since the announcement alone affected Match Group Inc.’s shares so dramatically. Thanks for sharing!

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  8. I remember reading a headline about Match shares tanking on this announcement, but completely forgot about it until now! You touched on the network effects that Facebook can leverage and I think Facebook has positioned itself incredibly well to incorporate Dating into its comprehensive ecosystem. Despite being late to the game, Facebook has an entire toolkit on hand to attempt to disrupt Tinder and the plethora of dating sites — it will be interesting to see if they can!

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