Meet the conversational cupid behind ‘First Dates’ matchmaking

Here’s how First Dates’ social media team used Typeform to track down seeking singles for their hit TV show.

Getting a date isn’t easy. Setting up the perfect date is practically impossible. So how do you hook up 72 different dates for six days in a row?

That’s exactly what COCO television has to figure out for every season of their hit TV show, First Dates.

Tracking down 1,000 Romeos

First Dates is hot. Whether it’s to pick up dating tips, cheer for a favorite couple, or just smile at the sheer awkwardness, one thing is clear: viewers can’t get enough.

The show is already on its 9th season in the UK, and has been imported to 12 other countries—including Ireland, Spain, and Australia.

It’s even spawned an American version produced by Ellen Degeneres and narrated by Drew Barrymore.

But to pull off a TV series that keeps an audience tuning in week after week, production companies have to do more than provide hopeful singles with enough free alcohol.

Here’s a question: Have you ever noticed what happens when you watch a dating show? Your eyes stay stuck on the main contestants—the featured few who may go on to find love.

But take a closer look. There are tables full of other couples. Who are all these lovely faces? They’re called “background daters.” Franky Harte explains:

Background daters are essential extras who go on a first date in the First Dates Restaurant but aren’t featured in the final series.

Franky knows all about this, because last year he was responsible for tracking down 432 background daters for COCO Television’s hit show, First Dates Ireland.

And with a last name like Harte, you might expect some cupid-like success.

Dressing up for the date

When you’re collecting info at this scale, going into a bar with a clipboard isn’t the most efficient prop in the pick-up artist’s toolbox.

That’s why Franky traded in his “smelly old form,” as he put it, for a typeform. Why Typeform?

There were four big reasons:

1. Create a custom look. It was easy to add photos throughout the typeform, along with the familiar First Dates‘ rustic wooden background. Because as Social Media Producer Paul Kelly explains:

When you’re looking for a date, make sure you look your best.
Paul Kelly, Social Media Producer

2. Let users upload photos. Getting pictures of the applicants was essential, and doing this straight through the typeform made it easy.

3. Tailor question paths for different applicants. For example, if applicants said they wanted to attend the restaurant with a friend, they got specific questions related to this. It helped to process their application more quickly and effectively.

4. Run smooth on mobile. With over a third of applicants responding through their phones, a smooth mobile experience was a must.

Then there were the little details that meant a lot. Like adding personalized confirmation emails to inform applicants of next steps and setting expectations.

So how did it turn out? Have a look at their dater application typeform.

And how did it go? Take a peek below.

Sailing through the tunnel of love

It was time to spread the love. So the COCO Social Media Team shared the typeform across Facebook and Twitter and embedded it on their website.

It was a pretty long typeform, taking over 10 minutes to complete. But Franky said the completion rates blew him away, especially for the number of questions they had asked.

And how many couple-seekers did they catch? Over 1,500! A massive improvement over the previous year, and enough to fill three seasons’ worth of dinner tables.

But what really impressed the team were some of the other responses they got:

We had loads of compliments from users who completed the typeform: ‘This is the nicest form I’ve ever filled out.

And what happened next? A Zapier integration sent the data over to a Google Sheet for further processing—figuring out which of these searching singles would get a chance to find love in the shadows of the First Dates restaurant.

Franky left some final advice for others looking to leave a good impression.

Take the time to look into all the available Typeform features. You’ll have a slick, professional form in no time. Your users will think you’re a genius when really all you had to do was click a few buttons.

Just a few clicks to hook up with your audience and look like a genius? Sounds like a match made in heaven.

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