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Diem’s Emma Bates Wants to Make Social Media Social Again

January 29, 2021

6 Min read

Get to know Emma Bates, co-founder of Diem, an app that will create a safe space for all women to connect, learn, and build relationships within.

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I grew up in Surrey, England. At university my major was War Studies at King’s College in London—kind of a strange degree, but I was obsessed with it. It consisted of psychology, politics, history, international relations, and gender studies. It was really cool.

While I was at uni I actually started a blog. Although, I didn’t even consider it a blog because there weren’t many around at the time. It was just me posting my film photographs, but evolved to have quite a large readership, which was strange since I had no intention of gaining a following. However, it did open my eyes to marketing and I realized very quickly that I didn’t like building an audience around myself, but I did love building an audience around other people, brands, and things that I loved. So that’s how I pivoted from War Studies, which was a very academic, “maybe I’ll go be a spy” type of degree, to marketing.

Out of university, I worked at a couple start-ups in London and was handling social media at its early stages, for example Instagram around seven years ago. From there I got a job with a marketing technology company that matched content creators with brands. After that, I joined what was at the time a very small start-up, now turned recognizable luggage company, Away. I was one of the early marketing hires and at first handled a lot of the international marketing. So for example, I launched their first UK store and dealt with partnerships outside of the US. I later transitioned into a position that was sort of an experiential partnerships marketing hybrid role. I did a lot of the brand partnerships the first three years of the business, which was a really fun and crazy time. It’s been about a year and a half since I left and it was with the intention of setting up my company Diem with my co-founder Divia, who I actually met at Away.

“Basically, Diem will be a safe space for women to come as they are and engage in a social environment.”

Diem started with a very central focus on health and women’s health. So, we wanted to create a digital space where women could connect with each other and experts. A lot has changed over the last year since we started, but originally the majority of the content was centered around motherhood, reproduction, fertility, and surrounding subjects. All of which, of course, are incredibly important times in a woman’s life, but if you’re not in that time—or like me have never even considered being pregnant or whether you’re fertile—that content doesn’t make sense for you to consume. However, there are a number of other health concerns that should be highlighted and I felt that my health journey didn’t have a place to live anywhere online. So, we’re aiming to build that space with Diem.

Since the end of 2019, we’ve been testing out different beta products and have conducted user research to figure out what women really want. Through all of that we landed on what Diem will be, which is a social space for the women-centric communities that we as women naturally seek to create ourselves. These communities can be anything from a financial community to a health and wellness community, even book clubs. Basically, Diem will be a safe space for women to come as they are and engage in a social environment.

diem app display

We recognized that social media is just not social anymore. Meaning, you post edited pictures of yourself while not really communicating with anyone, just into the ether of nothing. So, we wanted to bring back that idea [of being social], but create an environment specifically from women or those who identify as.

Diem is going to be an app, and what I’m really excited for as an ex-partnerships person is that each community space is like a premium profile. Each space is hosted by someone and that could be a community member, a doctor, blogger, brand, and so on. Within a space there’s a set of chat, video, and audio rooms where people can host events, chat with their friends, or really just do whatever they want with the technology. It’s your space on the internet and you can meet new people that way. Diem is also a way to build your own mini environment via content that’s authentic and trustworthy. For example, if you watch an ‘ask me anything’ chat with a doctor and find it really useful and want to be able to call back to it, as a user you can save that session to your profile for future reference.

“A lot of people associate self-care with a face mask, but it can be an entire range of activities and moments that you give yourself, like reading or spending time with friends.”

A personal catalyst of mine for starting Diem was the stress I experienced at my previous job. I ended up making myself unwell and started to see physical symptoms of stress after I left. On top of having some of the worst PMS symptoms I’ve ever experienced, my hair started shedding, too. I was like, what is going on? I decided that I wanted hair care that was more personalized to me so I turned to Prose. My shampoo has ingredients that will promote hair growth, so I’m very excited to see my results. Custom hair care is one of my pockets of self care nowadays.

Self-care is a topic that Diem champions. I can only speak from personal experience and the user research we’ve done, but I think in general women, a lot of the time, put others in front of themselves and don’t take the time to really figure out what it is they want and how they want to develop as a person and spend their time. I think self-care has become a buzzword, and in a lot of ways it’s actually just about preservation. A lot of people associate self-care with a face mask, but it can be an entire range of activities and moments that you give yourself, like reading or spending time with friends. It’s so important in a world where we’re constantly bombarded with upsetting news stories or toxic, patriarchy-style information to take time for yourself and hero your mental health.

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