Internet dating has caused a major social shift since the beginning of the online revolution. For years the platform of choice has typically been a traditional dating service website. However with the undeniable eruption of social media, another sea change may have occurred. More and more couples are now linking up for free in the wilderness of social media.
With traditional dating platforms, you would set up an account, introduce yourself to their pool of potential sharks, and hope you didn’t get bitten. There you could search their prospects for free, but most sites required a paid membership to actually establish direct contact. While these sites do offer many match making elements to connect like-minded people of similar interests, much of the same criteria can also be found through social media. And the hard truth is that, as of yet, no perfect algorithm has been designed for matching up a couple. Some would argue that the intricacies of dating are too vast for a computer to ever fully navigate. It most often serves as more sword then scalpel.
Perhaps social media can provide better matches, often connected through shared friends, interests or even occupation. It can also help with your piece of mind. When someone’s identity is confirmable through a mutual friends, that’s a huge hurdle to clear – one usually not possible through a traditional dating site.
The New Game
The emerging alternative to dating sites has become social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Each of these sites are free to join and let you chose as many “friends” as you like, with little or no limitations on communication.
If you have a particular Romeo in mind, social media can provide some great avenues for making a connection. If you’re hunting blind, it can also help narrow your search down to better candidates more easily then ever.
A known target
Let’s assume there’s a guy, we’ll call him ‘Jimmy’. He’s a great catch with an impressive job and interesting hobbies. Social media can allow you to, in a sense, inject yourself into his life – albeit gently. By following similar interests and conversations, you can hopefully establish a bond before proceeding.
Naturally you want to be stealthy – don’t wanna scare Jimmy off too fast. Get to know his online patterns and where he hangs out in the digital sense. Naturally this will work better on some Jimmy’s then others. Consider making a peripheral attack, approaching topics and discussions he’s already involved in rather then attempting a full frontal assault.
An unknown target
For those without a specific prey, you’ll need a more specific game plan. Ask yourself what type you’re going after – and the online locales will likely be populated with such. It’s not all that different from picking the right nightclub.
Suppose you’re looking for a lawyer. There are countless legal organizations that have a social media presence. Many of these are localized on the web, such as the Texas Trial Lawyers Association or the San Diego County Bar Association. Naturally this same method can be applied to other professions.
The Different Options
Different sites allow certain advantages, and some definite downsides.
Facebook’s benefit certainly comes in the numbers. With everyone and their aunt as an active member, this service can connect you with virtually anyone. A good option with FB is freely being able to browse the friends of friends.. This can even allow you to spot potential catches, and have the mutual friend set up a blind date. Direct contact is always an option, through either direct messaging or discussions on similar interests.
If Google+allows for a dating advantage over Facebook, we haven’t found it. The design is cleaner and the ads not as abundant, but beyond esthetics it’s basically the same hot dog with fewer customers in line. Perhaps it can be used as a quiet place for a more intimate conversation.
The How To’s of Facebook and Google+ are pretty simple, especially if you have a target in mind.
- Locate their page
- Do some intelligence gathering: Find out his online m.o. to best target when and how to reach him
- Consider commenting on posts and topics that they follow as a way of introducing yourself
- Determine ahead of time what you will and will not share
- Set ‘casual goals’ for each contact: sharing more, getting personal, moving to the next step (a phone call), meeting in person, etc…
- Have a line of conversation ready to go before initiating contact
- Plan your attack and execute your approach
Note: While Facebook allows for private messages, they are the standard way acquaintances communicate there. A less direct approach will likely serve you best.
Twitter is an odd beast, as some barely touch it while others live and breathe by the tweets. It can offer a nice window into the thought process of a prospect, but doesn’t allow the same fluid hunting ground as a full service site. It can sometimes be used to better gauge someone’s varying interests, as many people engage those more at Twitter then Facebook or Google+.
Because of the limit on message size, contact through Twitter is usually a precursor to either talking through another site, or direct contact. The trick with Twitter is to make your characters count and your creativity shine.
- Research the topics and people they follow for a shared interest
- Plan your approach, whether through direct or shared contact
- Be pithy, it’s part of the appeal: The limit of 140 characters requires tight, single statements. Back and forth attempts here seem forced and out of place
- Steer the communication to a fuller venue like email, Facebook
LinkedIn serves as the largest professional town square online. If you are established in your job and not really looking for a new one, there’s nothing to say you can’t still have a sexy resume online. A lot of informed daters look to this as the go-to fact sheet on a subject. It can say a lot about a person beyond their education and work history. A resume should reflect your lifestyle, accomplishments, skills and style.
LinkedIn.com brings the benefit of professional connections, but when the networking you’re interested in has nothing to do with business, it can still off a potential wellspring of companionship. It allows for regional searches, and of course specific to different industries. This is great for cold calling, or looking for love without a lead.
- Determine the type of professional and location you are looking for
- Find the LinkedIn groups that meet that criteria
- Comb the member lists for those groups
- Research any potential prospects through social media before contact
- Send him a connection request
- Consider sending an InMail (internal message) introducing yourself
The best kept secret for internet dating might be forums or message boards. These are usually framed around an interest, like movies or scuba diving, or even on an occupation or political affiliation. It allows for like-minded people to reach one another – and can be a great source for possible Mr. Rights.
In Forums and Message Boards…
- Find the best groups to suit your interest, occupation or locations.
- Watch for links to other forums that may be worth checking out
- Cross-check subjects through other social media for better analysis
- Carefully consider your line of approach
- Guide the conversation toward regular communication or a meeting
Use All Your Tools
The trick, of course, is to use these sights and services in tandem with one another. If you meet a great guy through a forum, it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to find his Facebook page. But dig a little deeper to get the full story.
Your own social media identity is an important element to the game, and accordingly should be appropriately massaged for maximum effect. You should consider scrubbing your timeline of anything that relates to past relationships. It is possible to do so without necessary erasing these forever. Set their privacy locks so that only you can access them.
Consider your profile a product, and shape it accordingly. It should reflect your style and substance, and present you in the most warm light possible. How much of yourself you wish to share is your own, of course, and there’s much to be said for keeping things down to a strong minimum.
Finding the right partner may only be a few mouse clicks away, but be constantly vigilant about the bad apples in the crop. Carefully and logically assess any potential partner with the hard details before deciding to initiate contact. Consider using a separate email account, and possibly a disposable phone for the entire endeavor. This can allow for a firewall preventing too much shared contact in case things don’t end in roses.
The one certainty of social media is that it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. Platforms may rise and fall in popularity, but this would appear to be the new phone book/nightclub of out times. For good or bad, it’s having a direct effect on how people meet up, and your presence there can make all the difference.
Karla Stephens-Tolstoy, Tokii CEO & Founder
A business and brand maverick, skilled in building start-ups and building brand management teams in North America, Asia and Europe.