I mentioned poetry in my profile and a guy started talking to me about that, which was nice because I felt like he was genuinely interested. We didn't meet up but we just chatted for awhile. So I guess it's always good to establish some common interests.
Don't write personal essays. Some guys have sent like, four-paragraph responses before and I could not be arsed to reply.
I'm a big fan of an emoji starter, because I'm obsessed with emojis (not the aubergine – information-girl waving is my fave).
Ask questions about me. I want to think you are still seeing whether you like ME and not just my photos. So wait until you know something about my life before you suggest meeting up.
Don't overthink it – something like 'how's it going?' is OK. It won't make me swoon, but will start a conversation.
Don't really have any opinions on smileys or emojis, but agree that the winky face is just cringe and awkward.
Don't do any 'negging' [a pick-up artist term which means using negative comments to prey on low self-esteem]. I'm not going to reply if you say I look better in my photos with long hair, or if you say my job is silly, it's not funny or clever to insult me, we're still strangers don't do it.
I also really don't respond well to people going straight in on a 'wow, you're hot' line. If someone expresses an interest in me and my life, I'm far more likely to continue talking to them. If it's clear that all they appreciate about me is my physical appearance, I'm less likely to be interested.
I definitely agree that beginning a conversation with 'Hey, how are you?' or something similar is FAR preferable to trying something flirtatious or funny.
One of the best conversation-starters I had was 'So, how shall we say we met? I'm thinking (insert cool story)?'
Ultimately, just don't try too hard. There's nothing more awkward online AND in real life than someone going all-out to attempt to be funny or clever and failing miserably. Just be casual, say hello and go from there. Don't force it.
All responses given by female BuzzFeed staff and friends.