i am running a dating website for 3 months now, have about 5000 unique visitors and 115k page views. My website was featured in a nationwide newspaper, really big though, and it is responsible for the most of the visitors (and signups) to my site.
Currently i have about 800 members, roughly said 20 should be my friends, from which 200 or maybe 300 are "active" and "returning" members.
The problem is following:
Neither the power of the share/like button, nor the tweet button have showed some effect on the website's population. Although the user page's where "liked" on facebook, but the people who viewed the page, somehow ended up not signing up. Sad.
I want that people invite their friends, using the same technique like facebook or other networking sites, by entering their passwords, so that their contact list of their email providers can be retrieved and they can chose from the recipients and send out the initial invite letter, for this website.
I have seen an approach by a website, that "locks" cities before a certain amount of users are registered for that city. What do you think of this approach?
Should i, for example, force users to send out invites, before they can continue?
Should i force particular users, handpicked for example, to send out invites?
I am kinda tired and really want to roll the dice, but as a last resort, want to ask it here before i pick any idea from above.
EDIT: Some facts about the website:
I did not introduce the forced updates, but I'm about to. The unique hits dropped from XXXX to a value of xx (please notice the lowercase). I will introduce this forced invite system and then gather my thoughts here. Thank you
Well I think this is a range of issues not just facebook, more the social engineering problem.
If your using the FB API then I would suggest having a cool angle like "3 degrees of seperation" (6 is too big and FB will likely try to block it) ... something about most people meet their partners through their friends ... or if your site is more the 1 night stand variety then ... ensure your not going to run into them again.
The real question is, beyond your friends who have some loyalty to you, why should I sign up?
So I think your question has a broader and very common set of questions (your not alone):
And though I'm not in the dating scene anymore, seriouly make the site look good, and work smoothly. Most of the FB dating things were UGLY, hard to use and felt like they were there purely to rip money out of your back pocket as hard as they could ...
I don't know about the rest of the people here, but I think you are looking at the trees and not the forest.
How is your dating website different from match.com, chemistry.com, eharmony.com,...? Exactly.
The question here is not how to attract users using the Like button or facebook or OpenId. The question is how to attract users. Period.
"I want that people invite their friends". Well, that's fine, but most people don't want their friends to know they are on a dating website. I am not saying you should close that door, but don't worry too much about it.
I think you are looking for this thing to go viral. However, the vast majority of "viral attemtps" fail miserably for a wide variety of reasons.
But don't get me wrong, what you've done so far is great. You have programmed the whole thing and deserves a lot of credit and merit. Only for that, you have my utmost respect. However, I don't see this site taking off unless you get some marketing people onboard that can POSITION your site. And yes, this means spending money.
p.s.: why don't you put the link to your site here? Good luck!!
l also have a similar dating site with over 5000 members me and my admin have done this through solely friends and and links on social websites making groups and using the like button to attract new members (im not going ot say the name of the site as l dont do spamming in any way as that just brings down your reputation) well l have recently installed an importer for members to invite friends or share the website with other social groups l have found that offering something back from gold membership to maybe vouchers for certain stores etc the incentive will be better than the forceful way you will see more interest and more people will participate as people dont feel good if they are forced to do something we like to have the choice and if the plate is presented well we will want to eat of it so like me l would suggest you give that a try rather that the way of forcing
I think you need to assess whether social media marketing is the right medium to use to market your site. Your national newspaper worked well - so do more of that. Try PR, try to get some articles about the site into print publications or online publications.
The key with marketing is to test and measure lots of stuff and find what works. Take off your tech glasses and have a think about all the other ways you could let people know about your site. This doesn't have to cost big dollars either (although it might).
Also analyse what your competitors are doing. Any one who has been in this market for a length of time will have found an effective way of marketing. Look at what they are doing and see how you can adapt it for your business. You may choose to market completely differently, but you will learn something useful from studying what the major players are doing in terms of marketing.
Facebook offers an API that will allow you to access the Facebook friend list of a user with the user's permission. Many apps use this functionality. Any competent web programmer should be able to get that working for you.
How the community grows is to be decided by the webmaster. It can not be forced on the user to send invites. BAD.
If the user finds the site useful, they will them self send the invites. You can enable some features for those users who send invites (a certain number) like done by magazine subscription many times. You refer ten names and they give you free for some period. I use to do that. Later on I felt it was comprising my privacy, and I sopped doing even that (they were informing the people, that I have recommended them).
I will surely and certainly advice against forced invite. It will kill the site sooner than later.
What If I don't want my friends to know i am using a dating site? Are you going to force me to share that with my e-mail lists? or Facebook friends....
If you do that, you'd have a lot of angry people and less users.