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How Social Media is Changing the World of Online Dating

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Recently at the Mashable holiday party, I spoke with good friend and fellow blogger David Berkowitz about the intersection between social media and online dating.  I proposed a new social network that would allow you to “rate” your dates similar to a Zagat® guide.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear that David had actually met his wife on JDate and scored an exclusive interview with him on his top dating tips for the lonely hearts out there. 

As the President of a social media marketing agency, I am intrigued by how social media intersects with personal branding.  It is more critical now than ever before to create a cohesive brand identity between all of your social networking sites, because one of the first things that people who meet you on dating site will do is look you up on other social networks.  With the advent of social media and the Google indexing of real-time tweets, it is imperative that you clean up your digital footprint and are well aware of what information your date will find about you before they search for you.  If you think they aren’t performing online searches of you, then think again.

One of the biggest mistakes I see people making is creating very separate identities on all of their social sites. For example, someone could write that they are looking for a “long- term relationship” on their JDate profile, then after you connect with them on Facebook® you see that they are friends with 500 girls and have pictures posted of them partying every night.  If you say you are looking for a relationship, you need to make sure you are backing this up on your other social sites. Conversely, it is also important to remove pictures of your exes if you truly are looking to meet someone new.  It sends out better vibes to your prospective mate that you are serious. 

Social media is rapidly changing the world of dating – both online and off. David Berkowitz recommends not connecting with people via social media until you are absolutely ready to take the relationship to the next level. He thinks social media can encourage virtual “stalking” prematurely and that it can create unfair biases very early in the courting process.

The other problem with connecting with someone too early via social media is that you are able to see all of their recent updates since your first date. For example, if they have not called you but are tagged in other pictures with new girls or guys, you may jump to conclusions that they are not that into you.  This is why it is extremely dangerous to become virtual friends with someone before you have gone on a few dates with someone – it can end up ruining the relationship prematurely. The same is true for becoming Blackberry® Messenger friends with someone before you are in a serious relationship. It encourages casual texting and does not force a man into the courtship process. If they know they are always connected with you it cuts down on the level of suspense. 

My top tips for creating a cohesive online identity:

1.)    Clean up your digital footprint because whether you like it or not your date will perform an online search of you

2.)    Remove pictures of your ex on your social networks if you are serious about entering into a new relationship

3.)    Do not post status updates about your dates as new privacy restrictions may make your updates visible to everyone including your date (social media is not as private as you may think)

4.)    Be creative with your profile! Create a profile that is unique and sets you apart from the rest.  However, don’t make it so “creative” that if someone looks you up on Facebook, Twitter® or LinkedIn® they will think you are several different people.

5.)    Once you have taken the “virtual” relationship offline, do not connect online during your date! Stay off your phone, it is the easiest way to kill the chances of a second date.  Courtship is still very much alive, despite the rise of social media.

Below is my exclusive interview with David Berkowitz, a fellow social media enthusiast and blogger.  David Berkowitz met his wife “virtually” on JDate on New Year’s Day in 2006 and has been married to her for two years.  He credits meeting his wife to a “technical glitch.” She works in government relations for a social services agency in NYC.

Kris: How did you meet your wife on JDate?

David: JDate has features where you can favorite people. You put a heart around them and if they do the same to you then you are a match.  It is a way to pre-screen and “stalk” each other and show someone that you’re interested.  I communicated with her, emailed her through the site and met her four days later.

Kris: What was different about your wife’s profile as opposed to all the rest?

David:  It is easy to tell one’s personality from their profile and having a real authentic personality shows quite a bit.  Cara, my wife, was very worldly, had many interests.  Specifically, she mentioned reading, travel, Netflix and attending cultural events throughout the city.  These were outright appealing because it showed that she was someone who has a lot of her own interests, as opposed to more standard profiles. 

Kris: What is the worst thing you could do from a personal branding perspective on JDate?

David: Mis-represent yourself.  This typically happens when someone only shows one photo – always ask for more because a lot of times people appear very different in person than they do in their one photo.

Kris: What are your best tips for singles looking to find love and create their own personal brand on JDate?

David: My best tip is to have fun with it! JDate should not be a resume – it is not a LinkedIn profile! Be sure not to contradict yourself. I would see people write “I like staying out but I also like staying in.”  A lot of time people are hesitant to show their real personalities because they don’t want to be seen.  A lot of the information gets very redundant – if you want to stand out, set yourself apart from the rest and get creative with your profile. 

Kris: How did you get creative and secure your personal brand on JDate?

David: I created a multiple-choice quiz designed to be a compatibility test. For example, I would write “add or subtract points if we have this in common.” It was only at the end of my run on JDate when I really loosened up and let my personality shine through.  I didn’t care about being too serious anymore and learned that it actually helped my personal brand when I showed that I did, in fact, have a personality. It was also a great icebreaker.

Kris: What would you say is the kiss of death in personal branding on dating sites?

David: The kiss of death is being dishonest – intentional or not. Put up good pictures that truly represent who you are not the glamour shots that put you in the best light.  Also, if you know you want to meet a religious guy you can’t then expand your search to people who don’t share your same observance level. 

Kris: Do you think social media can get in the way of creating personal branding on dating sites?

David:  Yes. The best thing I did was take the conversation offline as quickly as possible. You can tell so much more from a phone call than an online profile without knowing someone. My wife was a lot quicker to stalk me online than I would stalk her. 

Kris: Everyone is searching online through Bing or Google for information about their dates now. Do you think this is detrimental to the online dating process?

David:  You have to be ready to know how your brand is being represented. If someone knows your name it is easy to find something about you very fast.  Personal branding matters a lot more now than ever before and you should assume someone will be digging up information about you.  When it comes down to this level, it is inherently no different from the business world where you have to be ready for a potential client/customer to do background research on you.  It is crucial to figure out how your brand is being reflected.

Kris: So you do not believe in pre-screening people via social media before dating them?

David: Don’t look people up anywhere! I refused to search for people because working in our field (social media) I knew if there was something out there about someone I’d be able to find it.  I didn’t want to get that type of bias and handicap.  I absolutely refused to become Facebook friends with someone immediately so that I would not be biased about their other previously-posted pictures, etc.

Kris: What is your top dating tip for singles?

David: Be yourself! It is so crucial and it might even require getting a few second opinion from friends.  Ask your friends to view your profile and honestly ask them if it really reflects who you are. Is your profile an accurate but engaging and inviting reflection of you?

Kris: Should you become Facebook®  friends with someone you meet on JDate

David: I wouldn’t recommend it until you are serious about making your relationship official.  It will become weird if they are still your Facebook  friend and you are both dating other people. If you decide you will never be in a relationship but are genuinely happy to be friends, then you can become Facebook  friends.  Most of the time many of these relationships will end within a month and you don’t want to be permanently linked to people. Then you are faced with the ultimate question of “at what point do I unfriend them?” 

Kris: Do you recommend connecting with your date on LinkedIn®?

David: Do not do it! Especially LinkedIn  – which is primarily a professional network – it is very hard unlinking to people – it took me 10 minutes to figure out how to do it recently!

Kris: What about following your date on Twitter®?

David: It is easier to unfollow people on Twitter, but I think that this will promote premature stalking.  It can get to be too much information than you should have in the beginning.

Kris: What is the best thing about your wife?

David: Since meeting my wife on JDate, I have been married to her for over two years. She has opened up my horizons quite a bit and has given me a much broader and deeper perspective on just about everything. There is a lot that I give her a ton of credit for!

Kris: Any words of wisdom for the singles out there who are tired of looking after one too many bad dates?

David: It was a very tiring process in a lot of ways and definitely takes a strong commitment, but you shouldn’t give up on dating simply because you got burned or went a few bad dates.  I have a few friends who met people right away on JDate, however, for many others, myself included, the journey takes much longer. The benefit of online dating is that it is a great way to screen people and meet people who are in the ballpark of who you want to meet.  There were times where I would go on a bunch of first dates and that would be it – but ultimately I realized it was a real time investment and I was committed to finding the perfect partner.  I couldn’t give up. 

Your hard work winds up paying off in the long run – it is not unlike the work world where you are in the interview process.  You just need one great interview for everything to work out! This is more permanent. For me, it is really funny that I have been with the same job and same person for the exact amount of time. 

David Berkowitz works for a Digital Marketing Agency in Manhattan, NY

Kristen Ruby is the President & Founder of Ruby Media Group, a Social Media Marketing, Public Relations & Personal Branding agency.

GOOGLE is a trademark of Google Inc. Facebook is a registered trademark of Facebook, Inc. Blackberry is a registered trademark of Research in Motion Limited. Twitter is a registered trademark of Twitter, Inc. LinkedIn is a registered trademark of LinkedIn Corporation. Bing is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation. Spark Networks and JDate are not or affiliated with any of these entities. Zagat is a registered trademark of Zagat Survey, LLC.

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19 Comments »

  • Hussein El Jarouche says:

    Interesting article, for me I have never thought about a dating websites, but it’s nice to have knowledge about this thing since the revolution of the social media is increasing and enlarging in a big way around the world. I like the way the writer direct you how to deal with dating sites, the precautions mentioned are very important to keep in mind and highlight something that you may miss or didn’t take into consideration and especially to clean your footprint and creating unite accounts and delete the history in order to be serious in your relationship. Moreover the writer supported the recommendations mentioned by an interview with someone who lives this issue and dealt with it since he has met his wife through a dating website.

    Looking forward for more..

  • khalil says:

    an interesting point is to take the relationship offline as soon as possible. this way we make the best out of technology whithout losing our human identity and nature. using online dating and online identity branding is very efficient and time saving. you can use technology to save yourself time and effort planning meetings with your date and paying money and driving long distances. you can meet the girl of your dreams while sitting in bed. all you have to do is be yourself, be respectable and honest, and enjoy the show.
    online dating is excellent for people having restrictions and handicaps. even if they are socially rejects they can show everyone their other abilities and qualities and win the heart of their dream partner. its a perfect way to filter or screen out people without the embarassment we face in real situations when we are among people watching every move we make. a girl cannot stand up and head towards a guy and tell him that she likes him otherwise society would work against her. social media and online dating could do more than that. people can talk to several persons at a time and saves all the difficulties people face in real life.

  • Mohammad Aoun says:

    Nothing astonishing ! David the blogger was quite interested in that communication field. Particularly dating issues. His wife was so much alike .Result ? => Marriage. As I have read in the Instructor’s commentary ,it was stated that “You” to mean then user was stalked by other users,and this is how we got the information about the dating industry and how much is it worth,additionally ,what men and women lie about in their dating profiles and so forth. Quite sure about the questions asked,as the following : you should become fb friend with your friend on jdate? This is how the user keep stalking you from place to place or website to website. If i didn’t read the instructor’s commentary i wouldn’t have understand the concept of this question .

  • Mustapha says:

    Dear All
    First it is a great article and made me think of seriously of this. Could it really happens and make a social media networking become the main reason for your behalf?well, i think it could be but i never thought before it would be possible.
    But after what i read i realize it could come true depeneds on how serious are you toward this and more you must be sure of the personal you are sharing the same interest its not just like what you read about the other person it is quiet important to get sure from the given information about the person you like to build a relation with.
    The tips are so important which lead to serious commitment even though the respect that you must show is the base of it not post pictures for exes and not to post pictures to you when you are clubbing or with another woman.

  • SALLY JRAB says:

    This article had changed my perspective about online dating. David’s answers were interested to be read and to be taken into consideration, he knows exactly how to browse each site in a professional way. According to me I never thought of all these information & ideas before using any of sites, moreover I never thought of dating online I always prefer to meet the person live than over the internet. Nowadays else than JDate, face book is becoming a popular site for people to meet and start dating. I agree with David that reading the profile of a person can give the reader a reflection about their personality and what are the common interests between both. Being who you are helps a lot; this could be a good way to start a relationship with no lies. In this social media era a person have no time to meet someone; it is all happening through networks because people are sitting using the computer most of the time more than socializing in person due to over work issues or life duties… . On the other hand it is not a good way to stalk your partner wherever they are signing in, that shows that you don’t trust them much, don’t pressure them. In contrast give them the space they need. For example an incidence happened with me when I applied to a job I was surprised when a company started to search for my name through face book, twitter, LinkedIn and after asking why they would do such a thing, I was told that they care to know about my personal life and how do I interact with people through my profile as well as my CV resume. The tips that they were given for creating a cohesive online identity is so true and I recommend everyone to apply it. In the end I want to wish David a happily marriage and thank him for his advices that made me rethink of dating online one day.

  • Substantially, the article is actually the best on this noteworthy topic

  • Rami Zbib says:

    That’s a great article, it somehow changed my point of view on lots of stuff and whenever I approach any of these links mentioned in the article I’ll make sure to go by what David advised. And by the way, congratulations on your wedding.

  • Dana says:

    First of all congrats on the wedding ,
    Second , I would like to point out that even if a person doesn’t put up fake information on their social media profile/s ,there will be some things that would remain hidden , things that they probably wouldn’t want anyone to know about , so technically they wouldn’t be lying , just choosing not to display all their info …and after going out for a while , you start getting many “surprises”!! I must admit that online dating can lead and has led to many success story , but what are the odds that this story will actually develop into a lasting relationship ?

  • George El Khoury says:

    Hello!
    First of all congratulation for your marriage, I wanted to ask you two things:
    1.What is your advice to the people who believe that online dating is not real and doesn’t actually work? Having said that I was one of them before I read your article
    2. You use the word stalk in a good sense what do you mean by it?

  • Mayanda says:

    I really enjoyed reading this article! But I’m not into social media dating and won’t even think of it! But if I were to, I totally agree about being genuine about who you really are.

  • emunadate says:

    Here are some more great tips on social networking and dating…
    http://emunadate.blogspot.com/2011/01/more-dating-tips-on-social-network.html

  • Melissa says:

    @Joe –It’s not about people taking themselves seriously, it’s more about you carrying yourself to a certain level that you would if you were to meet someone new in person. This is also why, like Kris said, that we have some control of our privacy: We can show select things to whoever we want. So like you said Joe, you can still “let it all hang out” but hopefully to people who you are not trying to date haha!

    Trying to brand yourself on Facebook has also proven to be very useful to many companies. I think it would be foolish to just completely disregard how useful Facebook is for advertisers and other companies. As long as someone is consistently active on a social network, they will have a presence. And you don’t know how many companies there are out there that don;t know how to fully utilize Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn to their advantage.

    But hey, if you don’t agree, you are still entitled to think that way =P

  • Miles Trevor says:

    This is one of the better, more genuine, if not best article I have read on the site. It is important to be genuine as to who you are

  • joe says:

    This is SO incredibly self importantly silly…….your “personal brand” on social media sites? Please…..the VAST majority of people (thankfully) don’t take themselves so seriously – are just being themselves for better or for worse……and as a web marketing professional – I can tell you firsthand that social media “experts” are pretty much tantamount to the “MS. manners police” of yesteryear…and pretty much parrot what SHOULD be intuitive for all of us. (don’t post pics of yourself getting a tattoo in mexico if you don’t want your boss to see it, etc..:-)

    Simply stated -be yourself – have fun – be honest – and let it all hang out. Life is messy….and social networks are an extension of that messiness. Trying to contrive a “brand” – or compartmentalize your life to attract – or repel potential dates isn’t “real”….and if you’ve got 500 friend of the opposite sex on FACEBOOK…..why would that NOT be “ok” if that’s who you are, and where you’ve been?

  • Very informative and balanced.

    I think of all the things out there, photo presence is the most critical. Showing variety in your social networks is fine, but for dating, select pictures that are flattering (but recent!), depth of your personality (silly, adventurous etc), interests, as well as with friends. People tend to be judgmental, especially when meeting someone new, so present yourself in the best possible light. On social networks untag yourself from pictures that could be construed in a negative way. Moderating picture viewing settings is an alternative.

    Great article Kris!

  • Jessica says:

    great tips Kris!! cant wait to read more!! These are all so true, especially in today’s world.

  • Justin Merced says:

    I think some of these points are great, especially if someone is genuinely looking for a relationship with another person.
    Its very important to make sure you are who you say you are and that your social media info does not say tell something different. I could imagine it’s hard for a person that you are dating does not “stalk” you on a social media site because it leads to premature judgment. But alas, social media has played an integral part in the dating scene of today.

  • Jeffrey says:

    I wish I had your advice when I was single! Thanks for the article.

  • Caitlin McGowen says:

    Great article Kris! I never thought about a dating website as a form of branding but it really is. If i ever end up on one of those sites I will definitely keep all this in mind. Thanks!

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