INTERNET MARKETING NEWS
How Bumble is trying to democratise networking
Female-first social networking app Bumble is focusing on the power of connection – not privilege – as it embarks on its largest ever UK campaign celebrating the talent on its Bumble Bizz networking platform.
Launching today (2 September) the ‘Find Them On Bumble Bizz: London Edition’ campaign features 53 real Bumble Bizz users bringing their career stories to life through video, outdoor and a major content push.
Among the talent chosen to front the campaign are Tristan Thomas, head of marketing at Monzo, JP Then, the founder of Crosstown Doughnuts and Liv Little, founder of Gal-dem.
Telling the stories of real people overcoming adversity to flourish in their careers plays into Bumble’s founding principle to democratise access to opportunity, states vice-president of international marketing and communications, Louise Troen.
“We want to celebrate our users more than we want to celebrate our brand. We could have easily done a campaign that shows 25 celebrities and how they use it. It’s not realistic and it doesn’t work for us as a business,” she explains.
“What we’re seeing working, is when the audience and general population feel like they can relate and they feel like a brand is being authentic and honest about what it offers.”
Collaborating with creative agency Female Narratives, Bumble’s marketers began working on the campaign just over two months ago. The idea came about after Troen, scrolling through Bumble Bizz, was “overwhelmed” by the number of great people who had joined the app in recent months.
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The team then identified the 53 campaign stars via the app, as well as approaching people close to the brand and those from under-represented communities. None of the individuals were paid to take part in the project.
“We didn’t want people to be paid to promote it. We wanted people who felt passionately about connections and have found value from it,” Troen explains.
“These are just regular people who go into Starbucks for a coffee and get your airplane when you go on holiday and that’s so cool. We have a billboard with those people and next to it is Gigi Hadid promoting a nail varnish she’s never going to use. I love that we can be different.”
The hope is that the campaign will encourage people to use the app by giving them the confidence that real people, with real success stories, are already on Bumble Bizz. This underlying belief in making the first move in your career starts from within the business, Troen explains.
“We don’t sit in our reviews and give feedback. Whoever is having their review leads it, they make the first move and say ‘This is what I’ve done to grow the business, here’s what I deserve and this is why’. It’s all about us reverse engineering what we thought was the way and setting a new standard for behaviour,” she states.
Bumble Bizz is growing faster relative to the dating platform (simple called Bumble) and friendship site, Bumble BFF. Across its three arms, Bumble now boasts a global user base of more than 66 million people, including six million in the UK.
Troen explains that the success of Bizz comes from going into a space where the brand has no competitors in terms of its ability to help people find mentors or connect with like-minded contemporaries.
“Our USP of women making the first move obviously sets us apart because women feel safe. But ultimately women have several different dating apps on their phones and that’s something we understand and have come to terms with,” she states.
“What Bizz offers is something that LinkedIn, Facebook or Glassdoor don’t. Typically they are recruitment platforms or a review platform or a space to talk about the things you are going through at work. What we’re saying is we’re going to bring together brilliant people from every industry.”
Over the past 18 months, the team has done a lot of work populating the platform and introducing new features, such as filtering by industry or enabling users to search for mentors.
Troen is convinced the best way to celebrate this vibrant community of users is to go big on content, hence the launch of the brand’s first free newspaper. The 60-page publication will be handed out at 22 tube stations across the capital, and features interviews and career advice from all 53 featured Bumble Bizz users.
The newspaper will be supported on social by a minute-long video, as well as a bus and billboard campaign across London, spanning Waterloo and Liverpool Street stations, as well as Boxpark in Shoreditch.
While the campaign is focused on London, Troen will look to move iterations to some of Bumble Bizz’s bigger cities (in participation terms), such as Manchester, Leeds and Edinburgh. However, this will depend on the app in these locations being populated with people who want to connect and engage.
On the front foot
Standing out from the rest of the market is a priority for Bumble, which has been proactive in its support of women’s rights and female achievement. In February, the app went live with its first Super Bowl advert starring its new global advisor, the tennis star Serena Williams. The advert showcased Williams in her roles as tennis champion, entrepreneur, wife, mother and role model.
Then, in July, Bumble teamed up with actress and body positivity activist Jameela Jamil on #askingforafriend, a campaign tackling the rise in loneliness positioned around its BFF platform.
A month later, the company moved into the lucrative esports market through a sponsorship deal with the first all-female Fortnite team.
Bumble is partnering with global esports organisation Gen.G to sponsor Team Bumble, an all-female team who will compete professionally in Fortnite competitions. Bumble will also sponsor Kristen Valnicek, aka KittyPlays, an esports influencer on Amazon-owned esports streaming site Twitch and Gen.G’s head of new gaming initiatives.
The idea to branch out into esports came after the team saw an increasing number of gamers using Bumble BFF to make friends.
Bumble has also been investing heavily in new technology to improve the safety of its app. In April, the company introduced Private Detector, AI technology two years in the development which automatically detects and blurs lewd images. Users can then decide to view, block or report the image.
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Troen explains that Bumble has no desire to moderate its users’ chats, but it can regulate the app in a way that creates a safer experience, particularly for its female users who are most often confronted with crude imagery.
“For us, safety is number one; it comes ahead of feminism, empowerment and connections because you cannot feel empowered if you feel vulnerable,” she states.
“It’s impossible to connect with someone if you feel inferior or at threat. You cannot reach equality if there is an imbalance of someone feeling safe and someone not.”
Going forward, the intention within the Bumble business is to work “relentlessly” on improving the safety of the experience, says Troen, who believes that encouraging new standards of behaviour can only help Bumble set itself apart from its competitors.