When Jordana Abraham, Samantha Fishbein and Aleen Kuperman started detailing the ins and outs of the typical girl-on-campus as 22-year-old college seniors back in 2011, little did they know that their satirical blog would become a viral internet phenomenon.
So much so, that today, Betches is not just a millennial lifestyle website, but a full-fledged brand in its own right. It spans a popular Instagram account, an e-commerce store, two bestselling books, a newsletter, a podcast and a social media company that manages multiple accounts and runs influencer programs on behalf of brands.
Betch, for the uninitiated, is the phonetic spelling of “bitch,” referring to a young woman who wears “ugg boots, too much makeup,” and can be found in abundance at “most of today’s large city college campuses,” according to Urban Dictionary. She is also “affluent and educated, self-aware and confident, while still being disinterested and not taking herself too seriously,” according to Abraham.
“We had a good handle on frat bro culture and wanted to create a female counterpoint to that and satirize it,” said Abraham. “It is basically an exaggerated caricature of a young woman that ascribes to a specific type of lifestyle.”
In other words, she is someone that is likely to read articles like “These Self-Tanners Will Trick People Into Thinking You Just Got Back From Vacation.” Or tag her friends on Instagram memes that read “If you don’t talk to your pet in your special pet voice, then do you really have a pet?” Or buy a tank top that say “Yasss Queen.“
It is this snarky tone and self-deprecating humour merged with relatable content like memes and borrowed tweets that has helped propel the brand forward, helping it amass not just legions of social followers but a string of marketing partners. The brand has 5.6 million followers on Instagram, gets about 10 million pageviews and 1.5 million visitors on average per month and has worked with advertisers including Bumble, Netflix, and Bed, Bath & Beyond.
A recent campaign that the company worked on for the UK brand Soap & Glory, for example, generated an average of 1.9 million impressions and 52,000 engagements per social media post. The paid ad effort for Soap & Glory also included sponsored Instagram posts and mentions on the “Betch Slapped” weekly podcast, which launched about six months ago and averages 15,000 downloads per episode.
“We were drawn to them because of their unique tone of voice and because our target demo matched with their audience,” said Kristina Amerigo, senior brand manager at Soap & Glory. “They embrace relevant issues and pop culture moments in their own unique, fun and humorous way.”
For Jason McCann, executive creative director at brand strategy and design agency RedPeak, marketers tapping into viral Instagram publishers and influencers like Betches or FuckJerry is no different than brands previously hiring famous spokespeople, like actors or athletes.
“The difference is that the audience is drawn in by an attitude — or cultural zeitgeist — in this case,” he said. “What’s even more interesting is that they haven’t just sold advertising through their own channels, but actually turned that attitude into a marketing service.”
Though Betches declined to provide revenue figures, the company has been profitable for four years, according to Kuperman. The bulk of its revenue (70%) comes from its branded partnerships, and the revenue has been increasing 30-50% on average year-over-year.
And the Betches say they are are nowhere close to being done. The company is staffing up, and will have 15 full-time employees by the end of the summer. It has also launched several new ventures, such as a Skimm-inspired daily newsletter with a characteristic “betchy” tone.
Betches is also in talks to launch a TV show with Bunim/Murray Productions and Ratpac Entertainment, and is delving more into producing video content.
The idea is to create a risk-averse, diversified media business, that isn’t dependent on any one channel or any one type of content.
“We can’t rely solely on just memes or Instagram,” said Fishbein. “As the landscape and our audience both mature, we have to diversify.”