A date in a place but just no time

In my duties as writer for dating.org.uk, I see a lot of information fizzing through my feeds and alerts relating to the online dating industry. Much of it, no, the majority of it, gets trashed as soon as I open it up . There are two main reasons, namely:

1. it’s indecipherable ‘English’ pumped out by article mills in an attempt by a webmaster to dubiously ‘build [their] rank’, ie issue fresh content stuffed with keywords so that Google thinks it looks good but anyone with a minimum grasp of English will wonder what language the article is supposed to be written in, or,
2. the post is just crammed with figures and statistics that only perhaps accountants or mathematicians would have the faintest interest in.

However, one headline statistic did get me thinking, but only after I’d despatched it to the recycle bin; now I’m using the example, I wished I hadn’t, but the gist of it was that one woman, using her dating site membership, had managed to clock up $120,000 of free meals, all paid for by people she’d approached online on dating sites. Talk about your meal-ticket, or what?!

Whatever the membership fee was, she sure was getting her money’s worth.

What got me thinking was: how come this woman didn’t get a reputation so other members stayed well clear? Then I started considering the other numbers I’d seen flashing up on my screen after opening a ‘UK dating‘ feed or ‘online dating‘ alert. Some of the larger matchmaking sites boast membership numbers, globally and across the group brand, in the millions.

For argument’s sake, the hotbed of discussion being ‘how did one woman stay under the radar by scamming so many men into taking her out for a meal?’ let’s just say we’re talking about one site – the phenomenon of 2011 online dating, Badoo. Recent reports suggest that over 1.4 million new users are joining every day. Yep – that’s right. 1,400,000 new profiles, pics and life stories to crunch every day of the week.

Okay – this site is out of the ordinary, like I say. If it was purely in the social media category, it would already rank number 4 in the world, but there will be an independent review of that site another day. Back to the number crunching I absolutely abhor, but it has its place in this post.

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UK singles represent different target market for dating site

The tenth most visited dating site in the UK, boasting 120,000 visitors in September alone, has intentions to boost those volumes by taking a different approach to their view of the potential online dating UK audience.

Being only just in the top ten, according to information gathering organisation comScore, perhaps does the matchmaking site an injustice, as the chart ranks both paid and free dating sites together. However, they do still have a way to go to catch up with their nearest ‘paid-for’ membership site rival who, in comparison, attracted 698,000 from their group of dating websites.

But that is not their concern; figures may look good on paper, but they are not judging their own performance on that statistic.

The UK singles market is a different proposition to its US counterpart, where this dating site’s motto has grown from their ‘conversion rate’, whereby they claim to be responsible for “5% of all new marriages,” in Northern America.

But that is not going to be their driver when looking how to best service the UK singles market. The mission is not about simply getting people together to make their advertising look good, although the UK manager does state ‘the faster people leave the site, the happier I am’, but rather the plan is getting people together who are going to stay together in a long-term relationship by focusing on what makes them ‘really tick’.

bringing in the experts to connect on all levels

In order to make the UK dating dream a reality, i.e. getting couples together whose profiles suggest that they possess ‘twice as much likelihood to stay together’, the company have hired a specialist marketing organisation who ‘know how to connect different points of view in a competitive marketplace.’

The PR company, who will be looking after the dating site’s Australian interest, too, also look after the brand recognition of globally recognised icons Nintendo and Costa. If that is not pedigree enough, they recently won Marketing Week Engage Awards’ agency of the year award, to compound their market-leader status.

The drive to enamour itself with the UK dating market will also include monitoring and improving the mechanics and interactive capabilities for ‘who’s and ‘how’s of the dating site membership, specifically how singles use the facilities.

As well as the components that the members are used to, there are already ongoing tests to bring the site from a static web-page into the hands of mobile users, incorporating payment checkouts, web-chat using cam technology and location-based apps to literally date on the go.

So, let’s hope the integration of all of these components is swift, seamless and harmonious, for the long-term relationships of British singles, everywhere.

Dates are traditional at Christmas

Dusted rose and lemon Turkish Delight, Brussels sprouts and chocolate coins wrapped in golden foil – along with a tin of dates – those are the things that spring to mind when I recall my nan’s house on Christmas Day in childhood days of yore. Oh, and the sneaky glass of sherry I used to get when ‘the men’ disappeared for two hours down the White Rose to leave the women to the hard graft. And more sherry, of course.

But the guys and gals over at uniformdating.com have put a whole new spin on dates this Christmas, not to mention the revised concept of what you can hope to find in your Christmas stocking.

The dating site, which provides an opportunity for all of the hardworking emergency service and armed forces staff to showcase their profiles to other serving members (and civilians who just like men and women in uniform – traffic wardens, for me!), has joined forces with Cancer Research UK in a drive to raise £150,000 for the charity.

They have already started the ball rolling – for every new sign up for free dating site membership, uniformdating.com automatically donate £1 to the Tonne of Love campaign.

£7.50 from your dating site gift goes straight to Cancer Research UK

This new drive is slightly different and is aimed at the paid membership facility. Usually £19.99/month, the matchmaking site has slashed its rate in half to £10.00 in the run up to the festive season to coincide with its ‘Buy Your Mate A Date’ opportunity.

In effect, you are enrolling a friend into the online dating site for a whole month, where they get the chance to look for love online alongside privates on parade, the boys in blue, naughty nurses and those guys with the big helmets, the firemen.

The bequest can be totally personalised on the gift page of the site and payment is SSL certified secure (obviously) with visa or mastercard. You then have the choice of either printing off the certificate to give as a physical gift or you can send it digitally, by e-mail.

If your Secret Santa limit this year is a tenner and you pick someone who won’t get into trouble by being donated a month’s dating site membership, or could frankly just do with one, not only could you be putting them on the road to true love and happiness, but you will also be contributing £7.50 to Cancer Research UK from the £10 that it costs for the gift membership.

And, you never know, if you’ve been very, very good this year, your Secret Santa may have the odd pilot, lance-corporal or a few sea men in their sack at the Christmas Party for you, this Yuletide!

Parental guidance – learning to date all over again

So, the first few online dates have gone well, better than expected. You’ve got that buzz back, the one that, at times, you felt you’d never experience again. But mixed in with that excitement is a feeling of trepidation; as you and your new partner get closer, you know you’re going to have to come clean in the very near future and tell them about the kids. You can only put off going back to your place so often before your new beau starts to become suspicious and ask tricky questions.

You’re praying that they’ve got kids, too, and that they’ll understand. But then again you’re not, in case you end up feeling unworthy of their trust because they’ve not told you, first.

Or, you’re priming yourself for that look, which you’ve seen all too often, of tragic disappointment at the earth-shattering news that you’ve dared to have children before you even knew of your new partner’s existence. Your heart drops almost as far as their jaw, gawping in a face that looks nothing like their profile picture – you feel like making their excuse for them and putting it down as another lost cause.

single parent dating sites… are the perfect place to rubber stamp your parenthood

However, all is not lost. With the growing presence of single parent dating sites gracing the internet, they are the perfect place to rubber stamp your parenthood and get it out in the open upfront, without fear of reprisal or rejection.

That ghost will no longer haunt your third or fourth date, exorcised forever, as you know that all the members of your new-found online dating community share those same responsibilities.

Like every set of niche online dating sites, it is worth noting that not all operate in the same way. Some are strictly for single parents, whereas others have a dedicated section within their main dating website to facilitate singles who once weren’t. Although, unlike other specialised dating site sectors, single parent ones tend to be free. Not that there are stereotypical impressions of one-parent families, but they do tend to recognise the financial constraints that can be faced by moms and dads trying to raise their kids on their own. As well as trying to fashion something that can be considered a normal life around your full-time guardian role, stretching to dating site membership can sometimes be hard to justify.

If you’ve never considered single-parent dating sites, and you are one, it is well worth giving them a shot. Even if you have no intention of meeting up with other singles in similar situations, it can often do you good to share some quality adult time after your precious little ones are safely tucked up for the night.

You never know, that door that you thought you’d slammed closed may just start to creak open, again.

Dating site to the rescue

Calls for internet access levels on schools’ browers to be increased may soon be voiced, despite one teenage girl’s registration on a dating site via her homework laptop lead to her discovery after going missing.

When fourteen year-old Hanna Snider disappeared in Sorrento, Maine earlier this week, it was only through the dating site membership on her hard-drive and browsing history that her discovery at a boy’s home in Thomaston was effected so swiftly.

There is only so much protection any school can provide to control what their students access online, even if they do adhere to the CIPA* guidelines to the letter. As it stands, in order for schools and libraries to qualify for certain funding, they have to ensure browsing filters recommended under The Children’s Internet Protection Act are installed and implemented. However, once the student gets home, there are no such governance implications. If there are any limits, they are those imposed by the parents, not any school board.

This is where the onus really passes back to social media platforms and online dating sites to vet sign-ups with more scrutiny. Questions have got to be asked, ‘How did a minor manage to become a member of an internet-based dating community? and ‘What levels of control can social media platforms, singles dating sites, parents and schools enforce to limit minors access, and volumes of contacts once registered, thereon?

In circumstances such as Miss Snider’s, where potentially hundreds of contacts may need to be searched through in case of disappearance, critical time may be lost with so many individuals, be they schoolmates, social media buddies or potential partners on a contact site.
RSU 24, Maine’s appointed regional schoolboard, is aware of the importance of computer safety and its incorporation into the curriculuum, and beyond. As such, it stresses to its pupils’ parents to keep tabs on what they are browsing whilst using the internet at home, especially the more adult contact service or online dating agencies, where the filters applied in the classroom cannot be enforced.

With apps being developed which double-check registrations, and pressure being applied from all areas of society regarding accessibility and exposure on multiple levels of the internet, it could be time that internet dating sites set the precedent by introducing more stringent sign-up methods.