Will Facebook Graph Search Finally Make Online Dating Cool?

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That's the question posed by Cliff Lerner, founder and CEO of SNAP Interactive, in a recent article on HuffPost.

Personally I like to think we've already decided that online dating is cool, but maybe I'm just trying to make myself feel better. Maybe the rest of the world isn't as on-board with the idea as the social and professional circles I run in. For those people, Lerner says, the launch of Graph Search could make all the difference.

When Graph Search was announced, online dating sites went a little bit insane. Some feared that because it could meaningfully connect singles through friends and common interests, it would mean the end of traditional dating sites. It even includes the option to search by "relationship status," making it clear that dating is a key element of the new feature.

"The concern," Lerner explains, "is that singles will gravitate more and more towards Facebook for their online dating needs since Facebook already has superior data and profiles and now is offering enhanced friend and interest-based search and matching functionality for singles."

But fear not, online dating sites, because Lerner also says that line of thinking "couldn't be more wrong."

Facebook's Graph Search could be a valuable opportunity for dating sites. Currently only 1 in 5 singles visit a dating site each month, and the biggest opportunity dating sites have for growth is to crush the stigma associated with them once and for all. The best way to get that remaining 80% of singles to log onto online dating sites is to make it seem as normal as possible.

Enter Graph Search, which subtly blends online dating functionality into the Facebook experience. With the addition of "social dating" to Facebook, a brand new crop of singles is being introduced to online dating in an understated, but effective, way. And once they get a taste of what it has to offer, there's a good chance they'll turn to online dating sites to get more out of the experience.

Voila - Facebook Graph Search might actually be doing the online dating industry a favor, not driving a nail into its figurative coffin.

"It's only a matter of time before the online dating industry says a huge "thank you" to Facebook for removing the online dating 'stigma,'" writes Lerner, "and thus enabling millions of more singles to enter the 'online dating' market, which will ultimately expose many new millions of singles to destination dating sites."