Bumble plans to expand further into social networks with a new community feature

Dating platform Bumble is looking to improve its non-dating social features with a further investment in the Bumble BFF feature, which was first launched in 2016. Coming soon to include social networking groups where users can connect with each other based on topics and interests. , not just through ‘matches’.

TechCrunch heard that Bumble was venturing more into the social networking space, and Bumble recently hinted at this development during its first quarter profitannounced this month.

In the earnings call, the company referred to a Bumble BFF “alpha test” that performed well.

It described the test as new ways for “people to discover and get to know each other around shared joys and common struggles.” Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd added that so far, more than 40% of “active BFF users” were engaged with the new experiences being tested, and the feature retention was over 75% for a month. .

However, Bumble didn’t describe the product in much detail, other than offering a “new group format” for networking.

Reached for more insights, product intelligence company watchful had additional information. It had uncovered screenshots showing a female-focused “social groups” feature.

About 30 different topics were available, including things like ‘Women in Business’, ‘Networking + Mentorship’, ‘Finding Fulfillment’, ‘Mental Health’, ‘Working Moms’, ‘Body Positivity’, ‘Self Care’, ‘Eat Now ‘, ‘graduations’, ‘money management’, ‘building a better world’, ‘recent graduates’, ‘women empowerment’, ‘a mother’s life’, ‘breakups are worthless’, ‘single not alone’ , “workouts”, “Study Hacks + Motivation”, “Path to Parenting”, “Pet Parents”, “Wanderlust” and others.

Users can join the groups and create multimedia messages or respond to existing messages, similar to a threaded group chat or lightweight networking product. The topics so far seem to appeal to a slightly wider audience than just ‘young adults’, as there were groups for both college students and working mothers.

Bumble has confirmed to us that this is the same feature discussed during the earnings.

“We are currently testing new product features in our Bumble BFF community for a small number of people. We are reviewing the feedback from this test to help make our final product decisions,” a Bumble spokesperson told TechCrunch.

Image Credits: Bumble screenshot via Watchful

During the conversation, Wolfe Herd had also suggested that the new BFF feature could potentially help Bumble monetize it later.

“We’re very focused on the product, building the ecosystem, the communities and really getting into this new group format and testing the functionalities that we’ve been working hard on,” said Wolfe Herd. “Looking at BFF’s future earnings, there really are multiple pillars of opportunity — and one of them would be advertising,” she continued.

“We will look at baking in features to be economically more efficient or to advertise for the future, but we don’t expect any revenue from that in the short term,” the director had noted.

Image Credits: Bumble screenshot via Watchful

Originally the Bumble BFF Feature was designed to help Bumble serve its growing audience of younger singles, who were often looking for new friends to hang out with, not just date. The company had explained at its launch in 2016 that it came up with the idea not only based on user feedback, but also because it observed people using the dating app to make friends, especially when they just moved to a new city. had moved or were visiting. a place for a limited time, such as on vacation.

Bumble BFF also enabled the company to leverage some of the same technology it used to create romantic matches — interest-based algorithms, for example — and use them to help users forge platonic connections.

But in the years since its launch, friend search has grown into an app category of its own, especially among the younger Generation Z demographics who are more likely to socially “hang out” online, including via live video, audio, and chat-based. groups. Snapchat’s platform apps are a prime example of this trend in action, as is the Gen Z live streaming app Yubo† Then there was the largest-ever acquisition of dating giant Match Group with last year’s $1.73 billion deal for Hyperconnecta company that focused more on social networking than dating.

Additionally, dedicated social experiences have sprung up to serve Bumble’s core demographic of young, professional women, including the maternity-focused Peanut app; leadership network for professional women, chef† creator platform for women, greenhouse† female college influencer network 28 rows† community oriented Hi! wine; and others.

Combined, these factors can get Bumble into trouble, especially if younger Gen Z users are less likely to adopt traditional swipe-based dating apps — or, if they do, it’s more to just meet new people, no mate.

Of these, Peanut seems to have more overlap with what Bumble is building — which is also interesting, given that Peanut was founded by former Badoo Deputy CEO Michelle Kennedy, who brought her understanding of dating app concepts to online socialization. (Today, Bumble, Inc. operates Bumble, Badoo and its newest addition Fruitz.) Now Peanut’s concepts are making their way back to Bumble.

When asked for thoughts on this latest development, Kennedy said it “fully validates the market” in which Peanut has been working for many years — especially since the groups currently flagged have targeted women.

“It’s something we’ve always believed in. We’ve always known it’s a huge opportunity. We’ve always seen that. And for Bumble to say, ‘Yeah, we agree.’ Huge! Couldn’t be happier,” she said.

Bumble hasn’t said when it expects to launch its social features to the general public.

The company just posted a strong first quarter reporting revenue of $211.2 million, higher than the consensus estimate of $208.3 million and a 7.2% increase in paying users in the quarter. Bumble’s forecast for fiscal year 2022 is expected to be in the $934-$944 million range, higher than previously estimated.

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