With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, love is in the air. And on the web. Online dating has replaced cruising the bar for other singles, especially during the website dating ‘high season’ between Christmas Day and Valentine’s Day. For those of us who’ve dabbled in Internet dating, the anxiety of choosing the right photos and words is an all too familiar feeling in the quest to attract “the one” (or just someone. Anyone.) But Amy Webb, CEO of Webb-Media Group, threw her human instincts by the wayside to master dating sites through a data-driven approach of mathematical equations, key words and an SEO-friendly profile. She logged her story in her new book, Data, A Love Story.
Webb joined JDate and was disappointed with her initial matches. On sites like JDate, the users themselves provide data. When ineffective data is entered into the site’s “matching” algorithm, ineffective matching is put out. Ergo – online dating is the pits, spitting back incompatible mates. Webb wasn’t satisfied with the system, and instead spent a month researching data points, crunching numbers and analyzing the competition, ultimately finding a formula for the most successfully matched user profiles on the web.
Here’s what she found:
The most successful women on the site had profile pictures that showed some skin, wrote short, positive bios and waited about a day to respond to messages from admirers.
“When you think about it, online dating is sort of the ultimate exercise in product marketing. Except that you are the product. So how can you leverage what you’ve got, how can you make sure you’re being seen by the most number of people?” Webb explains. “If you think of (it) as more of a catalog database … as long as you know exactly what you’re looking for, it’s no different from doing a search in a library or doing a search for shoes on Zappos.”
As a frustrated online dater I can’t help but be a bit exasperated with her findings. Weren’t we taught that the right person would like us for who we are? But as a brand strategist, I should have figured this out sooner. We are in an age that requires us to brand ourselves all the time, so why should it be any different in dating?
Before I landed a great job, I spent hours tweaking my resume. From format and font to titles and time frames, it never seemed quite right. But when I joined OK-Cupid, I only dedicated about 15 minutes to filling out my profile. In my (obviously) romanticized version of online dating, it would be easy to charm my potential suitors with my best photos and sparkling wit. But Webb’s story brings up a valid point – when positioning yourself for love, forget about branding for your own satisfaction. Like you would with any great product, use your data, strategize, and brand for the consumer.