Your first message determines the initial impression you make, and only about one-third of first messages even receive a reply.
We have combined our own research with a 2009 Ok Trends study to develop comprehensive advice for sending your first message.
In the study, Ok Cupid analyzed 500,000 first messages on their website to determine which ones had the best response rates. First and foremost we would like to stress the importance of proper spelling and grammar.
Not only do misspellings and grammatical errors create a poor image, they have been shown to significantly decrease the chances of getting a reply to your first message. The study conducted by Ok Cupid showed that messages containing netspeak were responded to up to 26% less than those written with proper spelling and grammar. First messages should be conversation starters and nothing more.
The one exception to this rule was found with terms of laughter, such as , which have actually been shown to increase your chances of receiving a response. Some people, particularly women, are contacted constantly and may not take the time to read through a lengthy message.
Expressing amusement shows you have a sense of humor, and the casual nature of these terms allows you to "lower your guard," in a sense. You should also avoid writing a boring autobiography explaining who you are; if people are interested they can read your profile or ask.
And do not suggest the two of you meet up, or even exchange numbers or email addresses.
Stick with a short, concise first message; you can write longer, detailed messages later once you have communicated back and forth a little.
Your first message should be written in the same tone you would use in person.
The reader should be able to tell you are friendly; just keep it casual and polite.
If you have a sense of humor, laughter almost always works in your favor.
Men may also want to consider a rather strange approach that was uncovered by Ok Cupid: This dating website found that men who appeared vulnerable actually received more replies than those appearing too confident, quite the opposite of the real-world dating experience. The thought is that these words create uncertainty, leading to a sense of vulnerability, and ultimately make you seem less threatening.