Dating website/community with forced Invites


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:

  • It's a free service
  • It's NOT a one night stand type dating website
  • In my opinion, the design looks good.
  • You can register with 1 simple click using facebook connect
  • It also pulls all your pictures from your facebook profile (which you can immediately edit after they are pulled)
  • You can fetch your email contacts, which you can again, select from which you want to exclude from the invites
04.06.2011 - UPDATE: My experience so far. I don't know if it's the missing returning users or the few ones that return, or if it's me, who markets the site not as optimal as i should maybe.

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

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asked May 10 '11 at 16:20
Herr K
292 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • how do you respond to being forced? Assume that your users will respond no better. – Kenneth Vogt 13 years ago
  • Well, to be honest, i recently joined Badoo and at first, i was able to register and set the account up very quickly, after that, i was trying to look to some profiles, or better say, at the pictures, because i had to few pictures, i was "forced" to upload, so i can look at the rest :) and some stuff like that so, i did not felt that well but it was OK since it was giving me something back in a way – Herr K 13 years ago

7 Answers


Well I think this is a range of issues not just facebook, more the social engineering problem.

  • I wouldn't want the bulk of my friends knowing I was on a dating site.
  • I might want to let a subset / group know.
  • I would instantly opt out of a dating site that forced me to do anything. There are lots of them and I would just jump to the next

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?

  • Is it stupidly easy to sign up by using FB details to populate my profile? Can I tick to limit what I tell people
  • Can I pick a few photos to allow you to show so I don't need to upload ... but I wouldn't want all.
  • Can you use the things I "like" to find the things "they like" so that you can give some good suggestions on who I might be compatable too.
  • Are you going to ask me for my credit card details as I appear on your site (instant close).
  • Are there enough people there that its now a ghost town. Really you need another reason for people to stay on the site long enough and sign up easily enough to enable the scale.

So I think your question has a broader and very common set of questions (your not alone):

  • What is my unique selling proposition?
  • What is going to make people gravitate towards MY site over all the others?
  • How am I going to make money and is this going to impact my ability to scale up?
  • How do I get tration in the marketplace in order to attract more?

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 ...

answered May 10 '11 at 18:19
Robin Vessey
8,394 points


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,,,...? 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!!

answered May 11 '11 at 05:50
A. Garcia
1,601 points
  • Thank you for your kind words :) It's indeed a niche site, which is kinda different from and eharmony or likes of it's kind. I am focused on bringing people together rather then matching them online, so the community really needs some users. For the marketing people, that's pretty fine, I'm the one who would spend money on marketing, but currently, there is no room for this money there. I could go with facebook/goodle ads with a tiny budget. – Herr K 13 years ago


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

answered Aug 2 '11 at 04:33
Interracial Touch
11 points
  • Out of your 5000 members, how many are returning say, every day or at least once a week? – Herr K 13 years ago


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.

answered Aug 2 '11 at 13:14
Susan Jones
4,128 points
  • Thank you very much susan for your good summary. I will think into that, it's the best summary so far. – Herr K 13 years ago


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.

answered May 10 '11 at 16:33
Kenneth Vogt
2,917 points
  • Well since i've build the entire website from scratch, i am pretty sure i can apply this too, but what would be the great benefit of it? I can already share on the users walls, which i am currently not doing, but i have some pretty harsh permissions like post to wall, 24h data access & etc. – Herr K 13 years ago
  • The benefit is that you would be able to send invitations to the the lists of your users. The answer from @Rob above addresses the question of if this is even worth it. – Kenneth Vogt 13 years ago


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.

answered Dec 29 '11 at 12:32
Natwar Lath
294 points
  • hmm, i was thinking about a new strategy where the user fills his user info, and after he has completed his signup, he gets a special URL that he needs to share to say, 3-4 people and it the system says it would be perfect if you do it on Facebook or something like that. – Herr K 12 years ago


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.

answered May 11 '11 at 06:41
Ron M.
4,224 points
  • Well, forced in terms of invite SOME people, even if only 1. But if they can't and won't invite, how is the community supposed to grow? You can also select from people you want to send the email, you don't have to send to all your contacts :) – Herr K 13 years ago

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