‘Huffington Post’ alumnus Rob Fishman and Jeff Revesz launched Yoke, a matchmaking app for Facebook, in the last week of March 2012.
An online dating application designed to pull information from user profiles to help them meet their friends’ single friends on the basis of common interests, Yoke managed 7,000 users in its very first week.
The app is already being talked of as a success. Mashable writer Lauren Indvik said:
The app’s feature set is rather limited, but compared to the other Facebook dating apps I’ve seen, Yoke shows the most promise.
Unlike its counterparts, like OkCupid, Yoke attempts to keep registration and profile set-up simple and quick.
Users don’t need to spend much time creating a profile and answering questions like who they are, what their interests are and what they are looking for – steps that often act as an impediment.
Users simply connect to the app and select five photos from their albums to share with potential partners.
The app pulls their Facebook data (age, sexual orientation, relationship status) to complete their profiles.
As mentioned on the blog Socialite Media:
Yoke takes your Facebook profile data and compiles a simple profile for you, including your likes, interests and basic personal information. Yoke also links potential matches on other personal data like educational institutions attended, workplace links, and friends networks.
Not only is registration easy, the process of finding potential matches is very straightforward as well.
‘Techcrunch’ writer Josh Constine said in ‘Dating App Yoke Hooks You Up Based On Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, And Facebook Data’:
Dating is already stressful enough, so a calm, straightforward interface is refreshing.
Pulling data such as the kind of books, movies or music a potential match likes on Facebook can be an important conversation starter for a user who has an interest in that person or author/director/actor/rock band.
As mentioned by blogger Jennifer Zaino on Semantic Web :
Yoke is deeply connected into the Facebook API, Revesz says. With users’ permission, it accesses basic data such as birthday, location, and education history, and also pulls their Likes in music, bands, artists, movies, books and some general areas outside those categories. Ditto for their closest friends (again, with respect to their privacy settings, so no guarantee as to how far it can get for each individual).
The end objective is to explore connections with common interests that could lead to a real-world bond.
Yoke founder Rob Fishman said:
Yoke resembles how you date in real life — you meet through friends or at a concert because you like the same band.
Yoke also pulls information from profiles on third-party applications like Amazon, Netflix, Spotify and College Graph to set up potential matches based on their activities. This was done to make the interest graph more diverse and social.
The Amazon API looks at purchase activities, Netflix looks at movies watched, Spotify explores the music listened to and Yoke’s API matches users based on the college they went to.
The app doesn’t just set people up with direct matches – say, people who listen to Pearl Jam or who went to the same school – but it leverages third-party APIs to find people with similar tastes. For example, if a person listens to Wham! and another person to George Michael (who used to be the group’s lead singer), the app will know that the two are a potential match.
Yoke CTO Jeff Revesz said:
We’re looking both for similarity information and ontology information,” he explains – that is, for example, how closely two movies might resemble each other, and what entities they might share in common, such as the same director or actors. So, if someone likes one particular movie, the ontology of interest entities can be used to show other people who like similar things.
Josh Constine was sold on Yoke’s data-driven approach :
I’m a fan of Yoke’s data-driven approach to matching, which utilizes the APIs of content recommendation engines, Facebook’s Graph API, and its own proprietary college and Facebook Page graphs. Those let it say “You both went to Ivy League schools” or “You Like TechCrunch and she Likes LinkedIn”. It references your Spotify, Rdio, or MOG listening data against Echo Nest‘s graph of how popular musicians are clustered to suggest people with similar but not identical taste. These facts could actually serve as ice breakers: “Yoke says I listen to Daft Punk and you listen to Justice. What’s your favorite Justice song? I want to check them out”.
After identifying potential matches, users can ‘yoke’ people to show interest. If the recipient is interested, he/she can yoke back and start chatting.
Yoke’s communication system is integrated with Facebook messages, so users who aren’t on the app can be contacted through a Facebook Message invite. The message says: “You’re both friends with [friend’s name], see what else you have in common. Yoke is a Facebook app that introduces you to people you might like.”
People who have cold feet about yoking someone can ask a common friend for an introduction. Those unsure about a match can also ask a mutual friend for his/her opinion.
The friends a user has in common with each potential match are listed below the profile information along with the common interests. The user can click on the mutual friends to send them a message to ask about the person he/she has been matched with.
A friend’s vote of approval is likely to add confidence to a new relationship.
Even though most people don’t consider Facebook a dating service, in reality, many use it with that purpose in mind.
This was a fabulous opportunity for a dating portal/service to leverage the world’s biggest online community. Enter Yoke.
This also means there is one less website in the saturated online dating market. And, it saved the trouble of creating a network from scratch and consolidating a new user base.
Based on the insight that, generally, most people are attracted to those who share similar interests, the Yoke team wanted to make the most of Facebook’s Open Graph to help users find matches based on information from Facebook profiles and third-party apps.
As mentioned by Lauren Indvik on Mashable :
Yoke’s featureset is limited but expanding. Fishman tells me that he and his team want to take better advantage of Facebook’s Open Graph to show potential matches that they both listened to the same Spotify song the day previously, or read the same article on The Washington Post that morning
Most dating apps/sites are only for dating, but Yoke is more than that.
Users in a relationship can explore and meet interesting people to make friendly connections or set up friends who are single and compatible through the ‘Set Up Friends’ option.
One of the biggest drawbacks is that the service connects users with people who have not signed up for Yoke or may not be looking for a date at all. Yoke connects users to people on Facebook, so it needn’t necessarily be the case that the person a user is interested in is interested in the service.
This creates privacy concerns as images and personal information of users like name, interests, city and activities on third-party apps can be viewed by all in the search results.
This creates the possibility of users receiving spam-like messages of interest from Yoke users.
Even though the app pulls information like the relationship status and sexual orientation from Facebook profiles, it could be far from accurate as there are several people who list themselves as single even though they are not.
Another downside is the poorly designed user interface.
The online dating market is huge. Some studies show that the US’ online dating market has crossed $2.1 billion.
In the last few years, however, new players have struggled to stand out due to the saturation. A start-up needs to clearly differentiate itself from the rest.
Yoke’s dating experience is more social as it pulls data from social apps to find and encourages users to ask friends to set them up with their friends.
Its data-driven nature of connecting to Netflix, Amazon and other APIs to make smart suggestions about what two people have in common is what makes it stand out.
Also, people already in relationships are encouraged to use it just to explore new connections and to play matchmaker.
That kind of strengthens the connection. The most interesting aspect of data is these kinds of strange, mysterious connections between people, and it’s interesting to see that data come out. That’s never been done before. Even applications like Glancee and Highlight are not doing that kind of similarity information. They are not penetrating deep into the graph, and they are not focused on an application – just on who is around you.
Yoke has integrated features from other networks like OkCupid and Badoo to create a sturdy app. For example, exploring matches is similar to using OkCupid’s ‘Quickmatch’ feature.
Mashable reader Shirish Agarwal said:
They seem to have integrated Badoo, Match.com and few other dating sites features. Although it looks very similar to Badoo, Yoke probably stands out because it connects you to your friend’s friend. So the issue of trust and the profile not being a fake is resolved.
Experts maintained that the concept of a site using Facebook connections to source potential matches is the logical next step in the partnership between online dating and social media.
Online dating sites are expected to become more social and use APIs of other apps/networks to entice connections.
As for Yoke, it has done well in its first month of service. It will grow from strength to strength as it adds additional services and fixes its flaws.
Yoke will probably integrate more third-party APIs like Twitter and Foursquare and customise the user experience.
With a mobile-friendly website and an iPhone app in the offing, Yoke promises to be the next big thing in online dating.
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