Measuring online dating habits the facebook way

If you missed the last item, telling us that facebook were seeing what days its members were getting it on and unceremoniously back off again, go back to Will facebook be the next big thing in online dating?, get  a grasp of what this part two of two is all about, then come back and pick up where you left off here…

First and foremost the information was gathered from US facebook users from last year and the year before, then was split into three defining age groups, <25, 25-44, 45=<.  And, as much as we may be seen to protest too much about the relevance, there were some very distinct patterns about what days of the week people in different age groups changed their relationship status.

All three age-groups started the week on a positive note, more of each changing their online status to in a relationship, the middle group by as much as 14%.  The boffins decided that this had very much to do with the fact that the weekend spent socialising and indulging in ‘never-on-a-school-night’ frivolities instigated many new relationships.

As the week tailed off, however, and this is a measured decline throughout a given seven day period, those statuses gradually went back to single, dipping quite dramatically.  The over 45’s saw the biggest swing, from a plus 10% rise at the start of the week to a nosediving -7.5% by Friday, with the mid-group not far behind that 17.5% flux, dropping from their high of plus 14% on Sunday to -2.5% by Friday.  Again, the mad scientists put this down to the weekend, by suggesting those with experience dumped their dumpy dumpster in time to find a fitter Ferrari model on Friday.

The youngsters hadn’t quite got the hang of that bit as they showed the only bucking of identical trends by their Friday figure; it started to pick-up after Thursday, giving their overall swing the least movement by far.  That tells me two things.  Firstly, whilst you’re young, you can just go on dating whoever – just because you’re ‘in a relationship’ constantly, doesn’t mean to say it’s the same one; the ground never has time to settle beneath their feet, let alone allowing them time to change facebook status.

The second major factor, and I hark back to my Picasso Night Club days in Wolverhampton, is that when you’re that age, your weekend does start on a Thursday – at least it used to for us.  Friday at work was simply an inconvenience between the first two nights on the pull of many a hectic weekend.  They’d never have kept up with our statuses, back then.  But that’s possibly because the Internet hadn’t been invented yet…

Will facebook become the next big thing in online dating?

Match.com, for me, do enough research on the online dating industry to satisfy the need of anyone who is vaguely interested in the cogs behind what makes the $2bn per year industry tick.  Okay, one may find it amusing that Android users are more likely to put out on a first date than iPhone or Blackberry users but, really, that type of research is nothing more than a page filler.  A little something to occupy their time whilst the dating scientists are waiting for the IT guys to come back from Starbucks to turn their machines on and off again after a grave malfunction during coffee break.

So quite why facebook have decided to assess how relationships change with the seasons is perhaps beyond reason.  Not content with grouping the blocks of information into four simple sections like the seasons, they have even drilled down into what days are more convivial to striking up relationships than others.

What facebook does have over your common-or-garden dating site,, though, to back up its findings is volume.  Whereas perhaps Match.com or even OKCupid may split-test over a few thousand as a sample batch for whatever query they perceive as being useful to their marketing, the facebook has 850,000,000 guinea pigs to test their algorithms ons, far bigger than any of your standard dating sites could ever hope to use as a pool for gauging information and split testing.

Given that there were so many singles taking part in the dating survey status, it does make sense that they were not all going to fit into the existing brackets facebook had originally created for its membership to choose from in the little drop-down box that tells the world so much about your dating habits.

If you are in either a ‘domestic partnership’ or a ‘civil union’ you can choose either of those options.  I’m not sure that there’s a whole lot of difference between the two.  I’d have put money on looking either one up in Thesaurus and finding each term was a pseudonym for the other, but that just goes to show what I know.  All sounds like dating to me.

I know you’re dying to know, now that we’ve started down this route, so I may as well spill.  Join me tomorrow (I felt just like Philip Schofield then, only it was ‘tomorrow’ and not ‘after the break’…ho hum) when we’ll see if there were any trends picked out or whether it was just another excuse for a café latte with a sprinkling of cinnamon and chocolate whilst the IT got to grips with the power socket with Measuring online habits the facebook way.