Building an Army of Brand Ambassadors

SheReports

“You have to have a product that has some form of value or mission that your customer can relate to.”
— Chelsea Cain Maclin, Director of Marketing, Bumble

Chelsea Cain Maclin is the director of marketing at Bumble, the rapidly growing dating and networking app for women. Its innovation as a dating app was that only women could initiate contact. It works the same way on its two other platforms, Bumble BFF, for friends, and Bumble Bizz, for business connections. Maclin spoke to SheReports about building a brand based on a mission.


What is Bumble’s mission?

Bumble was founded as a way to create a community of people that shares a passion for equality, empowerment, kindness, online accountability, all of those core values, which makes it very easy to market to women, by the way, because we do have such good core values. Today it’s more than just a dating platform. We found that users were using Bumble to find platonic friendships, and so Bumble BFF was born. Bumble BFF has been really useful for women who are moving to new cities or going through a transition like having their first child and looking for a community of women around them. And Bumble Bizz was founded on that same premise, providing people with professional connections that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to and providing a platform where those connections can happen in an empowered and kind way.

Bumble was founded as a way to create a community of people that shares a passion for equality, empowerment, kindness, online accountability, all of those core values, which makes it very easy to market to women, by the way, because we do have such good core values.

Does the women-first element carry through to the non-dating parts of the platform?

That hasn’t changed. In Bumble Bizz, in a connection between a woman and a man, the woman still makes the first move. We feel like that’s a way to level the playing field. Sometimes it’s harder for women to get their foot in the door. Studies show that sometimes women are less likely to voice their concerns or ask for a raise or go out of their way to introduce themselves, so this gives them that opportunity in a professional way as well.

You’ve grown to 26 million users in three years. How do you achieve that kind of huge growth?

It’s really easy when we have a mission that’s founded on ending misogyny, empowering people, fostering growth, encouraging online accountability — all of that under the umbrella of kindness and respect. We think about if it’s GMS. That’s something I use internally with our team. Is it “glocal”? Is it measurable, sustainable and does it add value to our existing and potential users’ experiences in life? And “glocal” means global in strategy but localized and relevant to the people that we’re engaging with.

…we have a mission that’s founded on ending misogyny, empowering people, fostering growth, encouraging online accountability — all of that under the umbrella of kindness and respect.

For example, our Hives. They’re experiential pop-ups. We have hosted them in New York and London. I’m in L.A. right now attending our L.A. Hive. The strategy there is to provide experiences for Bumble users and Bumble nonusers that give them the ability to connect with people that they otherwise wouldn’t, adding value to their lives. For example, we had an event with two influencers who have built their own brand sort of from the ground up, and they were sharing their experiences and advice with the audience and having an open Q&A. The Hive events are free and open to the public.

In terms of acquiring new users, how do you market differently as a woman-focused platform?

It comes from the inside out. Our team is 85 percent women. Our ambassadors and our Queen Bees and our college local bees, who are all different types of ambassadors, are primarily women as well. I think if you have a mouthpiece—whether that’s through our content, our ambassadors or even our success stories—that is focused on fostering meaningful relationships in life, not just across dating but across friendship and business, it creates not only a community of women that are supporting other women, but it also helps us as a brand market our core values and our mission in a way that’s truly authentic.

It comes from the inside out. Our team is 85 percent women. Our ambassadors and our Queen Bees and our college local bees, who are all different types of ambassadors, are primarily women as well.

Are other brands doing that?

Certainly. It’s something that can be helpful for almost all companies. I think you have to have a product that has some form of value or mission that your customer can relate to. If you can build an army around that belief, it’s an incredible strategy that any company can use.

But I think a big piece of it is also giving back and providing value to your users as well as your ambassadors. For example, our Queen Bees are basically our community leaders. Located in most of our major cities, they throw two or three events per month, and they also find partners and influencers in their communities. We just brought a bunch of them to the Austin headquarters, where we gave them two full days of really in-depth training and education across all of our different departments. We also gave them some fun experiences like yoga and line dancing. We hosted an incredible session about identifying unconscious bias and how to battle that in their own lives and in their professional careers. And I thought that was a really lovely example of how this becomes sustainable. If you’re not investing in your users or your customers or your ambassadors or team members, it doesn’t become a sustainable marketing business model.

If you’re not investing in your users or your customers or your ambassadors or team members, it doesn’t become a sustainable marketing business model.