Facebook announced its idea for a dating app today. There’s still a ton we don’t know about how it’ll work, though we know that the platform will live inside its official app and that users will be able to “unlock” individual events or groups that they’re members of to see potential matches. The company says in promotional material: “Just like in real life, the more active you are in the communities around you, the more opportunities you’ll have to meet awesome people.”
This will be essential to the dating app’s success and could potentially position it to usurp Tinder as the go-to dating app for young people. One of the biggest complaints I hear from friends about dating apps is that they never seem to get over the messaging-to-meeting-up-in-person hurdle. They’ll amass tons of matches, chat over an app, maybe move to text, Snapchat, or Instagram, and then… that’s it. There’s even some unofficial math on how hard it is to meet up.
Tinder has gone so far as to actually pay two users to meet up in person after their exchanges went viral.
The company flew the matched couple to Maui for a first date. Seriously!
Obviously this was good PR for Tinder, but it addresses a real problem for the platform: successfully getting users to coordinate first dates. At this point, the Tinder pen pal has become a classic archetype. Messaging with matches has become entertainment in and of itself.
If Facebook’s dating app ends up being like the company is promising now, it could encourage people to RSVP to events more frequently, in order to look through guest lists for potential matches. Sure, people could (and probably often will) still bail — who among us hasn’t blown off a few Facebook events to which we initially RSVPed as “Going”? — but at least now there’s more concrete common ground. (Although Facebook will need to do work to help users avoid creepy matches who plan to go to the same event.) Countless interactions on other platforms have fizzled specifically due to a lack of solid plans, and Facebook events could mitigate that problem with built-in options, be it a literary reading, concert, food festival, or even dance marathon. Dating apps that beat their competitors, after all, are the ones that successfully get people to form real in-person relationships, and they all more or less start in the same place: with a single, IRL date.