I spent some time yesterday looking at graphs from social networks and their usage statistics. I was struck by how many times bigger they are, and how they just keep growing. Myspace and i’m sure facebook users send as many messages per day as plentyoffish users send in several months. When I look at other sites in the free category I don’t really see any. Sure there is Okcupid making noise and, promoting an Ipod for the 10 millionth email sent and there is a publicly traded Free dating site. Plentyoffish users send more than 10 million emails a week and we get 8-10 times more visitors then all free dating sites combined. When looking at usage data/ member logins from compete, comscore and others plentyoffish accounts for 90 to 95% of the free dating category in the english speaking world.
So here we are today like match.com and eharmony we are the leader of our category and we have little to no competetion. The only problem is there is no more double digit growth and signups pretty much flattened out in US and Canada in the last 6 months. We should be seeing 20% growth a month plus but we aren’t so where is all the growth going? All my polls and others research show that social networks are sucking users out of the dating industry by the millions.
So what to do? Social Networks are nothing more than glorified dating sites that tried a different interface and it worked and to make matters worse they make 5+ times as much money per user. Sure people say social network users aren’t all single users, but those same people choose to ignore the microsoft/sympatico study that showed 30% of yahoo personals users were married/not single. The average age of social network users has climbed from teens to thirties and the dating industry definitely saw the impact last year as traffic declined 20%
A few years ago I created a new format that took a niche and created a category and took plentyoffish to a billion pageviews/month site. But there is no way that this format will take plentyoffish to 10 billion a month or even 2 billion. I’ve tried making many minor and semi big changes to site the last few months but nothing has had a real effect. By real effect I mean adding millions of new users. So once again time to change the format and move this category forward or create an entirely new category.