Online dating is popular. Facebook Dating is not.
Facebook is a social networking platform turned technological behemoth. It’s safe to say that most people have heard of Facebook (low-risk assumption), but have most people heard of Facebook Dating (higher risk assumption)?
When the Facebook Dating feature officially launched in 2019, there was some buzz around it because when a big company like Facebook does something new, people are going to pay attention. But ultimately, two years later, Facebook Dating has not disrupted the online dating market, has significantly fewer users than competitors, and has not really taken off.
Facebook Dating makes it easier to find love through what you like — helping you start meaningful relationships through things you have in common, like interests, events and groups.
That all sounds good and promising, so why hasn’t it found success? Let’s examine some assumptions Facebook could have gotten wrong in the design thinking process.
Assumption #1: People want to use Facebook for dating.
Facebook is a social networking platform and has always been used as such. Consumers use it to manage existing connections, not find new ones. It was risky to assume that users would want to use Facebook for dating. Companies are usually best at the thing they were originally designed to do, which is why Facebook’s dating feature does not stack up to competitors like Tinder, Match.com, or Bumble.
Assumption #2: Facebook Dating is more convenient because all of your information is already there.
Shockingly enough, users don’t really trust Facebook with their data. Facebook is where they share personal information with real life friends, and they want that separate from their dating life. They don’t want to run the risk of their peers seeing their dating activity or potential dates, who are essentially strangers, from accessing more information than they allow.
Users have also experienced that Facebook does not use their information well to find them a potential date. It turns out pages you liked and groups you joined 10 years ago are no longer relevant in your life now.
Assumption #3: Facebook Dating will have a lot of users because Facebook has a lot of users.
While there is no concrete data available for Facebook Dating since it is an in-app feature, some targeted ads show that user numbers are quite low compared to competitors, and especially compared to how many users Facebook already has.
Facebook was really popular 10 years ago amongst college students, who would now be in their 30s and may be less likely looking to date. Facebook is also not popular amongst younger age groups, with the likes of Instagram and Tik Tok, who would be their best target for online dating.
Ultimately, Facebook built a feature as a solution for a problem that they didn’t have. They don’t put much effort into marketing Facebook Dating, and it doesn’t generate any revenue through advertisements or in-app purchases. Personally, I think it’s just another way for Facebook to gather data from its users, but I’m just a skeptic.