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Australians turn to digital to make the first move
01 May 2012

Optus research shows young regional Australians are more likely to use social media to ask someone out on a date

New research commissioned by Optus*, released today, reveals that Australians aged 18-34 are increasingly using social media and SMS to navigate the sometimes perilous world of dating.

The social media study showed that regional Australians are more likely than their metropolitan counterparts to use social networks such as Facebook to ask someone on a first date, with 14% doing so in regional areas compared to just 11% in capital cities.

However on the flip side, city folk are more likely to opt for a trusty text message to gauge their suitor's response with 17% asking someone out by SMS versus just 14% of regional Australians who have done the same.

The survey also uncovered that many Australians admit to cancelling a date via SMS and social media. However, metropolitan respondents were much more likely to cancel a date via SMS, almost one third (29%) admitted to this, compared to just 18% of regional Australians. More than one in ten (11%) of city dwellers have even chosen to end a relationship via a text message.

Leading etiquette expert Patsy Rowe, says it's not surprising that people are opting to go for the quick and in many ways easier means of communication when managing relationships.

"Relationships can be very sensitive subjects for people, so communication methods such as social media and SMS tend to be attractive, especially when dealing with delicate or awkward situations as both are quick and 'face-saving', not only for the person on the receiving end, but for the sender. However, not taking the time to pick up the phone or have a conversation in person can imply that you don't care or are either insensitive be that at the start, or end of a relationship", said Ms Rowe.

Maria Loyez, Head of Marketing Communications at Optus says, "People in regional Australia are increasingly using SMS and social media as their primary means of conversation. What's more, the ability to access social media on the go is now seen as a necessity. We've built SMS and mobile access within Australia to sites like Facebook and Twitter into our plans, making it easier for customers to stay in touch with their loved ones however they choose."

To help regional Australians navigate the potential pit-falls of SMS and social media dating, Patsy Rowe has pulled together an Etiquette Guide to Mobile Dating.

Patsy's Etiquette Guide to Mobile Dating

Scenario Communication Pros and Cons
Asking someone out on a date A phone call: immediate and you have an answer on the spot, you can also gauge interest levels by tone of voice.
An SMS: it's quick, easy and informal and little effort is needed upfront. What's more, its casualness prevents any embarrassment if the party being asked out declines the invitation.
Cancelling a first date A phone call: makes it easier to ensure your message is received in the right way and may help soften the blow. Easier to explain, apologise and reschedule if you want to.
An SMS: could be missed or not be received in time. Although, may allow the organiser to avoid embarrassment if they suspect the other party will be upset.
Breaking up with someone A phone call: gives the other person a chance to say how they feel. However, may result in a painful or emotional conversation.
An SMS: allows a statement to be made without mixing in too much emotion. The message needs to be worded carefully so it is not misinterpreted.
Announcing your engagement A phone call: could be time-consuming if you are calling a lot of people whereas using
Facebook: casts such a wide net that you don't have to worry about leaving anyone out


About the survey

*The study was conducted amongst 1,016 Australians aged 18-34 years. Surveys were distributed throughout Australia including both capital city and non-capital city areas. Fieldwork commenced on 22nd November and was completed on 30th November 2011. This study was conducted online amongst members of a permission-based panel. After interviewing, data was weighted to the latest population estimates sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Media contacts
For further information, contact:
Chloe Wilkinson
Fuel Communications
(02) 8217 6500