Heartbroker is a new Facebook dating app that launched February 8 from a startup by the same name based in Seattle, Washington. The company’s goal is to change the way online dating is done, bringing a more human approach to the scene by involving friends, CEO Craig Robinson tells us — the way people traditionally met before online dating. The idea is to remove some of the superficiality that comes with completing your own dating profile then looking for matches.
Facebook dating apps have become increasingly popular in the past few years, and form a significant non-gaming portion of the overall platform. Zoosk and Badoo have been at the forefront, although we also reported there are several of them that have established footholds. Zoosk in particular has seen much success on Facebook, raising $30 million in funding in December to this end. Badoo began to see huge growth around the same time, although apps like Hearbroker and Wings seem to prove that there’s plenty of room for other apps to carve out a niche.
A big difference between Heartbroker and other dating apps is that the experience is much more private. For example, when you start using Heartbroker, the fact does not appear in your stream; when you profile a friend, the notification goes directly to them in a Messages, not through the news feed, so everyone doesn’t know if you’re looking to date on Facebook. The app never posts anything to a user’s profile that identifies them as a user and the user has to invite specific friends to profile them.
Using the app is very simple and self-explanatory — partly because Robinson says it’s a minimum, bare bones product currently, although more interactive elements such as real-time chat and dating game-like questions may be coming in the future. You may chose to profile yourself or a friend in Heartbroker, then Facebook Connect sets up your initial profile and you begin to fill out information.
If you fill out information for yourself, you select your location, religion, politics, ethnicity and other demographic information; then you fill out what you’re looking for in a partner, such as age, religion, politics, ethnicity, etc. Then you’re done. When you want to invite friends to profile you, these invites go via Messages, not the news feed.
If you fill out information for a friend, you pick them, rate them on five metrics on a spectrum — intellect, humor, kindness, outgoingness and attractiveness — then you can write a testimonial and view some potential matches for your friend. You can skip or select these matches, then when you’re done profiling your friend, you send them a Facebook message that you did so. The app manages to utilize the news feed while maintaining privacy by noting in the most general terms “I helped a friend find a match on Heartbroker.” Incidentally, these ratings you give your friend are never seen by anyone (like your friend), but used by the app’s algorithm for finding matches.
Two obvious drawbacks to Heartbroker are that, because of its concern for privacy, virality is limited. Secondly, it takes two steps to complete a profile: A user to fill out their profile, then their friends to fill out their profile. Robinson addressed these concerns by noting that the odds are at least some of your Facebook friends would do you the favor, especially since the profiles are short and easy to fill-out. More features for friends to use while profiling others are coming, he says, including prompts (“Describe X’s ideal date,” for example), tags (“What three words best describe X?”) and other features.
Because of these hurdles, Robinson says slightly over 50% of single users have at least one testimonial (meaning many have ratings but no testimonials). Eventually he says he hopes to break down some of the barriers to profile completion, such as allowing users to profile a friend without having to add the app. AppData, our data service tracking application traffic and growth on social platforms shows that Heartbroker is still quite small, at about 1,400 monthly active users, but has seen steady growth since its launch.