Quarantine life for readers of the Betches might look something like this: an evening critiquing the self-quarantining Instagram posts of Bachelor stars while eating delivery, binge-watching reality TV, drinking too much wine and procrastinating an in-home workout in favor of a FaceTime date.
So the humor, gossip and lifestyle brand for women quickly adjusted its content strategy to give its Betches followers exactly what they need during an unprecedented time: “quarantainment,” or a mixture of entertainment, comfort, information and humor to get through the coronavirus pandemic, said Sami Fishbein, chief creative officer and co-founder of Betches.
Top content included a video with advice about staying healthy during coronavirus (more than 330,000 views across Instagram and YouTube), a rundown of celebrities diagnosed with the coronavirus (156,000 views during March) and an account of an influencer’s questionable behavior under quarantine (100,000 views during March).
With so many people spending time on social media, Betches’ Instagram presence has taken off, gaining 48% more followers per week than it did before the crisis. Engagement – a tougher metric to increase – is up 34% compared to pre-quarantine. Instagram story impressions increased 20%.
Betches has generated new content specifically for the format. Trivia in Instagram Stories, for instance, is a popular form of “quarantainment” and have generated 5.56 million total poll responses.
Betches is also embracing new formats. Its millennial audience once thought Instagram Live was lame – “in the category of posting a story on Facebook,” Fishbein said. But in the pandemic’s new normal, that same audience embraces Live.
So Betches used it to host a two-and-a-half-hour “Instathon,” featuring interviews including one with former Bachelor contestant Colton Underwood, games and live DJ sets from Betches’ favorite reality stars.
The Instathon raised another $5,000 for Betches’ Good Influence Fund for a total of $47,000 to date. Betches is distributing funds to a variety of coronavirus-related charities.
Other formats have declined since the pandemic hit, forcing Betches to adjust. Podcast listeners are declining as people spend less time commuting, so Betches pivoted its twice-weekly, hourlong news and politics podcast to a daily, 20-minute podcast that received 38,000 downloads the first week and held steady in downloads the second week.
“We bucked the trend and were able to capitalize on how people are consuming podcasts, which is in shorter bites and with information about the coronavirus,” Fishbein said.
With a lean, 30-person team and a bootstrapped business, Betches isn’t considering layoffs right now. “Our team is our most important resource,” Fishbein said.
While advertisers in highly exposed verticals have pulled back – a travel brand postponed its planned sponsorship of a series of live podcasts – Fishbein is encouraged by the overall health of its advertising.
“We have had the vast majority of partnerships remain, with the exception of the travel category,” she said. Betches is having conversations with partners to pivot to more relevant content, improve ROI and get in front of its “quarantaining” followers.
One of Betches’ ad partners, Obé Fitness, offers on-demand fitness classes, which makes the ads even more relevant for Betches’ readers.
But how do you date online?
For its dating app, Ship, created in partnership with Match Group, Betches created a date-from-home campaign to warm up its followers to the idea of going on a FaceTime date.
Betches also used its social media accounts and podcasts to promote the app. Its Instagram posts and podcast mentioned dating from home, and Betches polls readers weekly on their willingness to go on a FaceTime date. Every week more people are considering it, Fishbein said.
The app itself created new backgrounds that make it feel more like people are on date, as well as a badge that shows the person is willing to go on a virtual date, she added.
In the months ahead, Betches plans to continue its “quarantainment” by getting creative. Its readers love “The Bachelor” franchise the way ESPN fans love sports. Betches even has a dedicated podcast analyzing the show.
But if the coronavirus halts filming of the next season, Betches is hatching a plan, Fishbein said. “I can’t reveal the full details – but we are going to do our own version of what that would be.”