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Match.com Gets Social, Maybe a bit too much

2012 November 12
by Kathy Alice
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match.comOnline dating sites. Despite their widespread use I still feel like there is a stigma attached to online dating, enough so that you don’t really want to admit in social conversations you have a profile on Match.com – let alone write a blog post on it. It feels like you are advertising to the world that you are desperate for a date. But, putting aside my misgivings and with low expectations, at the beginning of last summer I created a profile. Long story short I did not meet my current boyfriend through Match.com, but I really thought Match did a great job of enticing engagement on the site.

Cool engagement features

The first step is to create an account and write a profile. Over a bottle of an excellent wine a girlfriend and I took the plunge and created our profiles (which was much more fun that doing it alone). One immediate obstacle is practically every cool and creative username we could think of was taken, so I ended up with a non-descriptive bland name. Otherwise, I’m happy to report that Match.com worked mostly well on an iPad for account creation, although completely filling out the descriptions and questionaire was a little painful and might be better on a desktop or laptop.

Then because I was busy – I forgot about the profile for a few weeks, even with Match sending me matches emails on a regular basis. A month later I logged back in and found an email waiting for me that eventually led to a date, and started spending time on the site.

match.com favoriteIt can be daunting to send an email to someone you never met. So Match.com, taking a few cues from the social networks, has additional features that make it easier to engage and connect with potential suitors online.

  • Favorite – the ultimate in “I’ll deal with it later”, you can tag a profile as a favorite to keep track of it. Match also “learns” from your favorites and other activities and sends you potential matches similar to those you like and interacted with.
  • Wink – You can do some online flirting and “wink” at a profile. The feature is not a complete crowd pleaser, several men suggested they would prefer an email rather than a wink, because winks often don’t go anywhere.
  • Like – You can post multiple pictures on your Match.com profile and people can “Like” them with comments, I thought this feature worked great. A picture is a great conversation starter – less scary than the blank screen of an email message. “Um hi, I like your profile.” is so lame.
  • Chat – Of course Match.com has “talk and text”. But I never used it. It’s better for a post first contact scenario anyway.

If that wasn’t enough, Match.com has local “Stir” events in larger cities. Since in person is how I prefer to meet people, I regret that I didn’t check one out. You can also upload audio and video (I didn’t see many profiles that had done this). And you can drive yourself crazy tracking how many have viewed your profile and favorited you etc …

But wait ….don’t go

A 3 month subscription was $59.97 which will automatically renew. If you decide to leave you have to explicitly cancel the membership. You won’t get a refund but instead your membership continues until the renewal date. This gives Match.com lots of opportunity to send your reminder emails warning you that your membership is about to end and you might miss out on some great potential dates.

What was surprising to me is what happened after the membership ended. Not only did I continue to get matches emails, but all sorts of other emails like:

  • He Emailed You!
  • Woohoo! Someone Chose You!
  • Wow! Your profile has been checked out by 3 men this week.

There was more activity after my membership expiration than before! Of course I would have to re-subscribe to check out all this activity (sorry George of South San Francisco) so all these men now suddenly interested would have to remain anonymous and uncontactable unless I wanted to pay $60 to satisfy my curiosity.

Which kind of brings up a question – isn’t it a little unfair to active members to dangle expiring or expired profiles in front of them? You can log in and disable most (but not all) of the emails and block members from contacting you, but I had to do that explicitly. Might explain why the response rate to the emails I wrote wasn’t very good. And here I thought it was just me.

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Kathy Alice

Kathy Alice Brown is a technologist, author, blogger and SEO consultant with a background in web operations and engineering.In her spare time she loves to get outside.
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