Guest blog by Lisa Schmidt, dating coach and matchmaker.
There is a growing frustration with dating affiliates and Facebook. The social media giant has blacklisted all but a select few advertisers, citing user complaints. They have even extended this list to include offline matchmakers and dating coaches. Private sector dating services that are blacklisted from advertising are considered the same as online dating. Why?
I don’t know about you, but on my Facebook timeline, I receive suggestions for groups based on other groups I have joined. Also, for products I have researched or bought. No it’s not a coincidence. It’s an algorithm designed to target my activity. The same targeting that an advertiser pays for, I might add. So if I were a single man or woman seeking private help with dating, as opposed to an online dating platform, why shouldn’t I be able to find a highly qualified, certified matchmaker or dating coach local to me — on Facebook? I suppose Facebook would argue that one could google it. The downside of that being that they are encouraging users to actually leave their platform.
“In the face and time of social media, where more and more relationships are created in an “online” environment, I find it extremely odd to ban online dating sites and other dating professionals to advertise on Facebook. Matchmakers and date coaches in particular provide a valuable and essential service, by helping singles to successfully find and meet someone special, both online and offline. Facebook connections are growing and are responsible for many pairings and break-ups. Banning the professionals who can properly serve this community is ridiculous. These people are going to seek these services OFF Facebook anyway. Just give them the ACCESS to what they need without leaving your platform.” Carmelia Ray, online dating expert and 23 year matchmaking expert.
The offline dating industry offers private matchmaking and dating coaching. These professionals are certified by a few different governing bodies and have received training in their field. A dating site can be a large wasteland, comprised of various types of people – fakes, scammers, sexual predators, people that just don’t take it seriously, etc. Wouldn’t it make more sense to include advertisers offering high quality services that screen and vet potential matches, as opposed to limiting a user’s options? i.e. offering them a service that has thousands of years of proven results. Matchmaking is as old as time.
I reached out to Facebook, asking for clarification. Their press office invited me to send questions regarding this article. After a week of waiting, when nudged, Facebook spokesperson Tim Rathschmidt said, “We’re going to decline to participate or offer comment on this one”. This just begs the growing question of why not. There is a current conspiracy theory among some smaller dating companies that the bigger online dating companies have cut a deal with Facebook to drive out smaller companies in return for guaranteed spending levels on advertising. In an interview with Business Insider, where they did give a quote, Facebook said: “Making sure ads are relevant and high quality is a top priority for us, so we updated our policy a few months ago to require manual review for ads for online dating services”.
Facebook has continued to assert that the quality of dating ads on Facebook needs to meet a higher standard. This is done by only allowing ads for dating sites that have a Facebook account representative. That is a great concept in theory only. For example, Plenty of Fish may have an advertising account, but the level of quality members is sub-par. Believe me, because I use POF and have written at least four articles based on bad manners and profile pictures alone. Perhaps if some of their members hired a dating coach or matchmaker, all of the frivolity and vulgar behavior that happens online could be curtailed. The larger issue being that society is already super-served enough. Dating sites only cater to the illusion that you can drive through, throw out a quick pick-up line and drive off with a match.
Most matchmakers would consider themselves “mom and pop” or a local business, in a time of big box stores and advertisers. Why alienate small businesses when there is a growing trend to support locally owned companies? As matchmaker Tammy Shaklee states, “I asked Facebook staff in person last week (regarding whitelisting) at the Facebook Fit workshop. They just shrugged and gave no hope. Even though we are offline matchmaking, they said we are considered the same as online dating sites.” It is not even close. The average matchmaking contract can be $10,000 to $25,000. If a Facebook user has the discretionary income to afford offline services; it is a disservice by Facebook to not allow the matchmaker advertising access to him or her. But don’t worry, because six of your “friends” like zulily, and you’ll get that ad all day long.
By Lisa Schmidt
Lisa is an experienced and expert dating advice writer, dating coach and matchmaker.