How stringent safety features are giving dating app Bumble an edge
Earlier in November, Magic Labs, the parent company of dating app Bumble, was valued at $3 billion by equity firm Blackstone, which had acquired a majority stake in the company. Bumble Founder and Chief, Whitney Wolfe Herd, became the new CEO of Magic Labs.
Almost a year has passed since Bumble launched in India. During this period, the dating app has launched three consumer focused campaigns and has created a lot of buzz by bringing on board brand ambassador Priyanka Chopra Jonas, who is also an investor in the company.
During that journey, women in India have made the first move over three million times and are sending 2x as many messages as women in the rest of the world, shares Priti Joshi, Vice President – Strategy at Bumble.
There exist many dating and matrimony sites, but the penetration remains less than 3 per cent of the entire online market. Most of these sites or apps are aggressively focused on matchmaking and turning out new couples.
Joshi says, “At Bumble, we saw an opportunity to play in the middle – to bring to India a social network where women are empowered to make the first move when forming connections in love, life and work.”
With a goal to become the dating app for women, they launched their first campaign in January – called #EqualNotLoose. A few months back, they launched an integrated campaign – called “Find Them On Bumble Bizz”, featuring Priyanka Chopra Jonas and 25 inspiring women from Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore.
Most recently, they launched a multi-channel campaign, ‘Find Real Friends’, in India, talking about their ‘Bumble BFF’ mode. The campaign rolled out various OOH and digital ads targeting consumers with creative messaging, where women build or evolve real friendships such as corporate parks, malls and high impact billboards on arterial roads.
“Our growth strategy has always been to adopt a consumer-first approach to drive brand awareness and engagement. We’re constantly leaning heavily on establishing a consistent, consumer-led brand narrative across a mix of offline and online marketing channels,” says Joshi.
To appear as a safe space for women online, Bumble has taken a proactive role by launching a series of protective features on the app. The app allows women to be the first to chat, hide their first name, match expires in 24 hours if no response, photo verification, hide your profile, video chat, voice call and allows them to block, report, unmatch without a fuss.
The app launched a new global feature, called ‘Private Detector’, which has a simple function to blur inappropriate images. Once a nude image is shared within a chat, the ‘Private Detector’ automatically blurs that image and alerts the user that they have been sent something potentially inappropriate. From there, the user can decide whether to view or block the image, and if compelled, the user can easily report the image to Bumble. A survey conducted by the company in the US had found that 1 in 3 women had received such an image in their lives.
Through its efforts, Bumble caters to the millions of women who are an ignored audience in the social media ecosystem in India. By cultivating this differentiated user base, the app might become an attractive place for advertisers whose core audience are young women.
Bumble currently has over 72 million users in 150 countries, and while Joshi was not forthcoming with the India numbers, looking at their marketing efforts it is safe to say that India is an important market.
The dating scene in India is growing exponentially. A ‘Think with Google’ report discovered that search results for dating services shot up by 40 per cent and dating related queries have overtaken matrimony related queries. In Google Playstore’s top grossing apps for India, Tinder was leading the pack at first place, while OkCupid and Bumble were on 26th and 29th positions, respectively.
In conversation with Adgully, Priti Joshi speaks about Bumble’s marketing strategy in India, how to make online an equitable space for women and their efforts to promote dating in India.
What strategy are you following to market to women?
During Bumble’s strategic planning, it was observed that the dating app industry in India is highly fragmented. On one side, there are many global apps focused on dating, and on the other, there are local, homegrown players focused on dating or matrimony. Bumble saw an opportunity to play in the middle – to bring to India a social network where women are empowered to make the first move when forming connections in love, life and work. One of the other things we consistently heard was the desire for women to feel secure and comfortable when making connections online.
Across all 3 Bumble modes – Bizz, BFF and Date – we have prioritised creating a digital space where women feel comfortable and empowered to lead a conversation. Features such as women make the first move, hide your first name, matches without a message sent expire after 24 hours, photo verification, hide your profile, video chat, voice call or block-report-unmatch, help our users in setting their ecosystem as per their comfort. Bumble also has a zero-tolerance policy for harassment or hate speech of any kind.
Our growth strategy has always been to adopt a consumer-first approach to drive brand awareness and engagement. We’re constantly leaning heavily on establishing a consistent, consumer-led brand narrative across a mix of offline and online marketing channels.
What are the challenges in making social platforms a safe and equitable space?
We can’t speak for other social platforms, but at Bumble we have prioritised creating a safe space for equal and meaningful interactions. At Bumble, equality and respect are two of our core brand values. We care deeply about bringing people together with a mission to end misogyny and create an inclusive world where all relationships are equal. From giving users the option to block and report to further choosing their sexual orientation, we have always implemented ways to make the platform more inclusive and safer.
This is obviously an ongoing issue that doesn’t stop here, what remains to be done?
Bumble will continue to find innovative solutions that not only protect our users, but the digital space as a whole in our commitment to creating a kinder, safer internet.
How many female users are there on Bumble?
It has been a great year in India since our launch in December 2018. Since the launch, women in India have made the first move over three million times and are sending 2x as many messages as women in the rest of the world. Furthermore, we have seen that 40 per cent of women in India use two or more modes within Bumble. This speaks to the power of the social network – and we are excited to continue to support women as they experience each of Bumble’s modes – Date, BFF and Bizz.
As a platform, how are you working to make it a safe space for women?
At Bumble, we are constantly striving to ensure that women feel safe and secure when making connections online.
For our launch in India, we developed a feature specific to India, where only the ‘first initial of a woman’s name would show’ on her Bumble Date profile. When she is ready to share her full name with connections, she can, but until then, her identity is protected. This ensures that she can’t be found on other platforms and harassed or cyber bullied by those she doesn’t want to connect with.
In addition to India-specific safety features, we have many global features that are live in India. For example, we make it easy to ‘Block and Report’ anyone you don’t want to see on the app and we have ‘Photo Verification’ and ‘Request Photo Verification’ to help ensure that the person you’re connecting with is who they say they are. We have thousands of moderators around the globe who work 24/7 to ensure our platform is safe.
We also have ‘Video Chat and Voice call’ for Bumble users to experience a real-life connection without exchanging any personal information.
This year, we also launched ‘Private Detector’, an in-app feature that takes an unprecedented approach to advancing safety in both the digital and real worlds. The feature automatically blurs lewd images and alerts the user that they have been sent something inappropriate. From there, the user can decide whether to view the image or block the image, and if compelled, report the image and the user to our moderation team.
Continuing to create a culturally relevant brand footprint in India, we’ve recently partnered with an online platform Safetipin to continue our goal to empower women by paying it forward in the spirit of the festive season. Through our integrated marketing campaign, we’ve raised up to $15,000 on behalf of every match made on Bumble across our three modes (Bizz, Date or BFF) to contribute to Safetipin's initiatives in creating safe urban spaces for women in India.
What is the marketing strategy to make users aware of new product features like ‘Private Detector’?
We continue to adopt a consumer-first approach to drive product feature awareness and adoption. In an effort towards achieving our mission, we’re constantly leaning on establishing a brand narrative across various digital media touchpoints, offline media, performance marketing, influencer activations and content partnerships, to name just a few channels.
To give you an example, we launched an integrated campaign highlighting our product features and educating users about Bumble’s value proposition. Another example is our integrated ‘Find Them On Bumble Bizz’ campaign featuring Priyanka Chopra Jonas and 25 inspiring women from Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. The campaign narrative was crafted to celebrate our incredible Bumble Bizz community and how users can make the first move to network, find a new mentor, or even a job opportunity.