Using Badoo for Business Purposes
For those unfamiliar with Badoo, Badoo is a social network site headquartered in London (with offices in Moscow, Cyprus, Malta, Miami, and Prague, among other cities), and founded in 2006. Badoo counts a user base of over 200 million (as of January 2014) and, while is available in 180 countries, it is most popular in Italy, France, Spain, and Latin America. Badoo allows users to search for user profiles in close proximity, and is used predominantly for dating purposes. It operates on a freemium model, monetizing its users’ desires to increase their visibility with other users on the site.
Among other premium features Badoo offers its users is Rise Up, which moves your profile to the top of the search results for any user nearby looking, and Spotlight, which moves your photo to the top of the search results page. By choosing Encounters, you will see profiles of those who match your criteria in nearby cities and areas. And by paying for a Super Powers package, you can see who wants to meet you, increase your ability to search Badoo’s user base, customize your profile, and highlight the visibility of your private message. In 2011, Badoo’s hook-up functionality accounted for approximately 80% of the site’s usage, according to its CEO Bart Swanson, numbers which likely do not vary much today.
Ok, you might be thinking. This sounds great for my personal life, but how exactly can my business use Badoo? In this article, we will cover 1) the history of Badoo, 2) the purpose of Badoo, 3) the benefits of Badoo, 4) setting up a Badoo account, 5) using Badoo for business, 6) Badoo key terms, 7) best practices for using Badoo, and 8) a case study of a business using Badoo.
HISTORY OF BADOO
To understand how Badoo can be used by your brand or business, it is important to understand its history, purpose, and business model. Badoo was founded by Russian tech entrepreneur Andrey Andreev, after his earlier successes with Spylog, Begun, and Mamba, respectively. The last of these businesses, Mamba, a dating service launched in 2004, was where Andreev first explored the possibility of offering subscribers enhanced visibility for a fee. The site was profitable in its second month, driven by this business model. After Mamba was sold in 2007, Andreev focused his full attention on Badoo, obtaining $30 million in venture capital in 2008.
Andreev initially launched Badoo in Spain in late 2006, as a then-unprofitable photo-sharing website. Retooling it as a site for meeting new people in 2008 after a year of rising growth and low revenue, Andreev’s fledgling site grew dramatically. By 2009, the site had nearly 50 million users, 10 million of whom were paying premium prices to increase their visibility on the site. Most of these users were in Europe initially. However, Badoo has been launched in a number of other countries since, including the U.S. on March 23, 2012, with marketing campaigns launched in New York, Miami, Houston, and Los Angeles, among other cities.
Badoo has endured some controversy for its aggressive marketing practices, namely spam-like email marketing sent to users. Badoo uses what is known as “opt-out marketing”, meaning it continually emails users and the contacts they share with Badoo until they specifically opt-out of email notifications. It also has received some notoriety from users who have used the site and app for criminal purposes, and usage by underage individuals (though the firm continually monitors to ensure this does not happen). Nevertheless, it remains immensely popular around the world.
Robert Scoble Interviews Ben Ling, COO of Badoo at LeWeb London 2012
PURPOSE OF BADOO
The purpose of Badoo, says its founder Andreev in a 2012 interview with TechCrunch, is “about making it ‘as easy as possible to bring people together, so they can chat, make friends, date, and have fun.’” In another interview in 2012, he has described Badoo as a “nightclub on your phone.” While Badoo is heavily used for dating and/or hooking up, its real value lies in what is known, in industry parlance, as “social discovery.” Social discovery is: “the act of a website presenting content that is predicted to be desirable or relevant to a person based on that person’s social preferences.” In Badoo’s case, it is paired with IP-based geolocation, the basis of location marketing, to satisfy a user’s desire for real-time in-person social interaction. In a 2011 interview with Wired, Badoo CEO Bart Swanson said of Badoo’s unique model:
“The opportunity for people discovery [through Badoo] is a horrendously large market — it’s a confluence of social, proximity, mobile, and it’s extremely local. The basic mechanism of what Andrey has developed is genius — just like Google with its AdWords, it’s people paying for self-promotion. And it works.”
BENEFITS OF BADOO
Businesses and brands using Badoo enjoy many benefits. However, you should closely examine your brand to determine whether it can be safely aligned with Badoo’s brand and reputation.
Badoo targets a young, wired, demographic from around the world; firms using it as part of their marketing mix will be able to target this demographic. This is also helpful for brands looking to project a young, hip image. And because the site is designed to encourage continuously meeting new people, Badoo users are very active and engaged. Badoo’s users are twice as engaged on mobile phones as on the Web.
Because Badoo can be used to find people in proximity to its users, it can be and has been used for networking purposes other than dating. Further, site usage is often dictated by the cultural norms of its users’ countries. “In many countries the service is used for friendship rather than flirting. People bring their own social conventions with them, Mr. Andreev says.” This offers marketers the chance to drive offline traffic to specific locations. While firms like Foursquare have a dominant position in location-based marketing for businesses, marketers looking to hold social, branded events can use Badoo to increase attendance.
A further benefit of Badoo has less to do with Badoo itself, but with its business model of location-based social discovery, of which Badoo is a global pioneer. Many industries, especially entertainment, hospitality, and media, can greatly improve their digital marketing efforts by integrating this into their plans. Combining social discovery with a freemium monetization model (i.e. monetizing extra features and/or extra visibility) can be extremely lucrative as evidenced by Badoo’s $200 million in annual revenue.
For example, hotels whose online websites and mobile apps offer virtual concierge services (e.g. users recommendations and discounts to hotel guests), could also allow them to meet other Guests or local residents, potentially heightening their experience. The hotel could offer free location recommendations and charge for social recommendations or vice versa. As you can see, Badoo itself provides businesses a valuable case study in location-based social discovery.
SETTING UP A BADOO ACCOUNT
Setting up a Badoo account as an individual is simple. Simply visit www.badoo.com and fill out the required fields: Email Address, First Name, Birthday, Zip Code, Gender and Looking For. Then click Sign Up and open your email account to confirm and complete your registration.
You can also sign up by allowing Badoo to access your Facebook account. To take full advantage of Badoo’s social discovery features, however, it is critical to download the Badoo mobile app also, which is available on Android, iOS, Blackberry and Windows smartphones. The exact steps vary depending platform, but, fundamentally, to download it, take your mobile phone, visit your respective app store, and click install. If you have already signed up, sign in. If you have not you will follow a similar process to the steps above on your mobile device.
Businesses can join Badoo’s White Label program, which allows them to create a branded design for your business for free. Brands can use the site to sell advertising and Badoo’s premium features to their customers who use Badoo. To do so, visit this.
USING BADOO FOR BUSINESS
Beyond the White Label program, a presence on Badoo offers brands a number of opportunities, including word-of-mouth advertising opportunities, affiliate marketing, and targeted marketing in countries with heavy Badoo usage.
Brands looking to target 18-to-35 year olds in Latin America and Europe are well-served by Badoo. A branded presence there can reach a socially connected and active crowd, especially if your firm has offices and events in those geographic areas. Further, Badoo collects considerable geo-demographic information on its users, allowing you to refine your marketing efforts, when you access premium features like SuperPowers.
Badoo’s business model is all about increasing visibility. The firm offers brands and businesses an affiliate marketing program and a corporate Badoo site through the White Label which can help you get in front of your target audiences online. Further, smart marketers, who figure out ways to join in the conversation rather than just advertise (for example through branded and/or nonbranded company-hosted meetups or events), have an opportunity to engage existing and potential customers directly.
Badoo’s advertising opportunities are all through its aforementioned White Label program, wherein you sell Badoo ads and packages on your branded Badoo social media portal. You can place ads on this portal for your firm, as well as other marketing content. Though Badoo itself is ad-free, firms whose staff members create profiles on the site can drive users to perform specific tasks through direct outreach to contacts (word of mouth advertising) on Badoo. Product placement is a possibility, as Badoo is heavily photo-oriented. Depending on your brand, product(s), budget, and marketing goals, it may be worth it to ask popular Badoo users to feature your products in their photos. Further, Badoo’s CMO has discussed plans for both ads and games on the site in the future.
For small businesses, Badoo’s affiliate program is easy to implement and affords marketers and webmasters a variety of creative Badoo-branded content to feature on their websites and/or corporate blogs, up to 75% commission, and a high conversion rate. While this may not be a good fit for your corporate site, it may work for a minimally branded microsite you set up or a White Label site you request of Badoo and promote to your customers.
BADOO KEY TERMS
Key to using Badoo is understanding its user features, as they greatly enhance the Badoo experience:
- Icebreaker – a Badoo feature that provides conversation prompts to users to facilitate chats.
- Interests – a section that allows users to fill out their own interests (unlike many dating sites with pre-formatted interest sections).
- Encounters – Badoo’s geolocation feature, which allows you to see which Badoo users are in close proximity.
- Super Powers – a premium Badoo package that allows you to see enhanced information, including who likes you, who wants to meet you, and more.
- Rise Up – premium Badoo feature that displays your photo at the top of a search page.
- Spotlight – premium Badoo feature the displays your profile at the top of the page and increases your visibility in search results.
BEST PRACTICES FOR USING BADOO
Before you get involved with Badoo as a marketer and/or entrepreneur, here are a few key best practices for using the site:
- Have a standout photo on your profile. Post high-quality photos that have the potential to cut through the clutter, as Badoo is awash in photos.
- Avoid synching your contacts who do not use Badoo with the site immediately, as Badoo’s opt-out marketing approach is a turn-off for some users (and users will see that you invited them to the site). Instead, first target your customers and target consumers who are already using the site. Then come up with ways to invite and incentivize Badoo usage among your existing customers who are not using the site.
- Make sure you have a written social media plan that is clear and read by any staff members who use Badoo to promote your firm.
- Badoo is used for social purposes. Don’t market your brand. Involve the human aspects of it in the Badoo conversation.
- Keep in mind the differing social conventions by location. Some more conservative countries Badoo users use the site to find new friends, while some more liberal countries are more prone to use it to hook up. Keep your messaging appropriate to these social norms.
Badoo is Best practices for location-based social discovery:
- Have a well-designed mobile app/mobile experience. A single encounter with a clunky interface may be all that it takes to permanently turn a customer off of your app…and a potential customer off of your brand.
- Avoid sending people marketing messages and offers for which they have not signed up. This is seen as intrusive and can alienate customers and targeted consumers.
- Use the freemium model. The notion of missing out on an experience, especially a social one, is a very compelling proposition for many people, as evidenced by Badoo’s financial success. That $200 million dollars is people paying for premium features to get more socially engaged.
- Protect the privacy of your users by instituting measures to protect them from spam and offers from third-parties.
- Don’t always sell in your marketing messaging. Instead, think of this as another part of your story.
- Develop apps in accordance with industry standards, guidelines for which are available at the Mobile Marketing Association’s website.
- Pair meeting new people with finding new locations for a rich social discovery experience.
Badoo’s launch in New York City is a great case study itself of how brands, particularly fashion brands and celebrities, can use Badoo to enhance their profile. Badoo launched in New York with “The Badoo Project” in early 2012. This launch, featuring press engagements by celebrity spokesman comedian Nick Cannon, gave 1,000 New Yorkers the opportunity to have their photos taken by celebrity fashion photographers, with a small number of them to be featured on a series of print advertisements featured around New York City. The buzz surrounding this project led the slots to fill up quickly and created favorable media impressions from participants, such as this one and this one. Fashion was on display, as some media outlets even took note of the clothes Nick Cannon, a non-participant in the photoshoot itself, wore to the photoshoot.
A fashion firm, inspired by the Badoo Project, might hold a photoshoot with participants, wearing branded apparel, vying for slots in an advertising campaign with creative appearing on Badoo among other outlets. Similar campaigns could be conducted using product placement.
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