Badoo is a social network that is popular in continental Europe and Latin America and has grown to around 13m users since its launch in 2006.

Unlike many others, Badoo carries no advertising and instead makes money by charging users to raise their profiles on the site.

We talked to global director of communications Lucy George about its plans to crack the UK…

Badoo

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Can you tell me about the idea behind Badoo?

Our original idea was to create an international social network by providing users with something they need and a way to communicate with others.

We made sure that the site was monetised from the very beginning, but we didn’t want to spoil the user experience with advertising or by selling user data.

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How many users does Badoo have?

We have just passed the 13m mark and have users in 180 countries. We are most popular in Europe and Latin America. For instance, 3.5% of the Spanish population uses the site.

In the UK, we have around 150,000 users and we are looking to expand this by adding more features and more UK-focused content.

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How does Badoo make money without having ads?

We have a feature called Rise Up which allows users to vote themselves to the top of the site’s rankings via text messages, which cost £1, €1, or $1 depending where the user is based.

In the UK, this service is free at the moment while we try to attract new users.

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How many users are paying to raise their profiles?

Around 20% of our users are doing this at least once a month.

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Do you have any plans to introduce advertising in future?

No, we have been making money on the site right from the start so we have no need to introduce ads, as we think this makes for a cleaner experience for users.

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Are there any opportunities for marketers on the site?

Although we don’t have advertising on Badoo – we’re not anti-advertisers. Lots of people use Badoo to promote their work and this includes filmmakers, photographers, artists.

Consumers are crying out for brand authenticity and social networking sites can provide a great opportunity for brands to demonstrate what they are really like, what’s important to them, and to engage with their customers. 

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Can you tell me about the site’s funding? What have you used this for?

We recently received a $31m investment from Russian financial group Finam for a 10% stake in the company.

We have used the money for expansion and investment in technology – photo sharing is a key part of Badoo, so we need the site to work as quickly as possible.

We have also opened up an office in Moscow with the intention of expanding into the Russian market.

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How do you account for Badoo’s growth? What sets it apart from other social networks?

We have always grown by word of mouth, and we have been able to reflect user needs as we have grown, constantly updating and adding new features to the site.

Apart from the Rise Up feature, we are different from other social networks because we are truly international – users instantly have access to an international audience.

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Is there any danger that the popularity of social networks will peak anytime soon?

No – they have become part of the international consciousness and will always be important whether for business, academic or social purposes.

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