Clarity of Intent -- Dating sites aren't about starting "conversations." Nor is the role of the middleman ambiguous. For all parties, it's all about the end result. Members want a date. The dating site wants your subscription money (or ad revenues, depending on their business model). The selling proposition -- both for the romantic parties and the dating site -- is efficient and honest.
Profiles are opt-in -- The sites are designed around pulling interest from individuals about individuals, not sending unwanted information into dozens of email accounts en masse.
Simplicity rules -- All dating sites are basically the same. You choose a screen name, post a picture, and construct a profile. Then you browse the profiles of those who have done likewise. When you see someone interesting, you say hello -- and maybe good things follow. Is your outreach this simple, or are you fencing your company with too-clever titles, features, and choices?
Repeat business depends on disclosure -- Put some spin in your profile, and you might get a date. But if it's not accurate, there won't be a second. Transparency serves both parties.
I'd like to see PR professionals behave less like marketers and put more love in what they do. There are many ways to measure PR efforts and correlation to business value. Many more than their direct response colleagues can even grasp.
Now if only they can get back to understanding the simple principles that stand behind successful dating sites -- emotional connection, story telling, simplicity, disclosure, transparency -- they can bank on greater results with social networks. After all, they are in the relationship business, or so they say.
© 2010 Valeria Maltoni. All rights reserved.