BeKnown: will it fail to change BeHaviour?

Since this weekend, my various social media channels have been ‘buzzing’ (pun very much intended) with ‘BeKnown’, a new Facebook app from Monster, one of the UK’s largest job boards.

The premise of the BeKnown app is simple: provide a professional networking platform within the most popular social network platform in the world, making professional use of your ‘friends’ and their connections.  Put simply, Monster is attempting to recreate LinkedIn within Facebook.



The accompanying promotional material claims that being able to use Facebook for both personal AND professional networking provides users with the convenience of having one place in which to conduct all their digital networking – and I can certainly see this.

Those who fear mixing their personal, private selves with a professional persona need not worry; BeKnown only allows connections to see the information contained within the actual application, thus avoiding exposing your professional contacts to photos of your boozy stag do in Blackpool.

So in theory, a comprehensive professional app within Facebook’s walls sounds like a great way to network with professionals and utilise your friends’ networks too, right?  I have my reservations.

As a digital marketer, I know from first-hand experience how challenging it is to change customer behaviour and pertinently, I believe that BeKnown is attempting to do just that.  Despite Facebook’s position as THE poster boy for social media, LinkedIn is by no means a small player, with over 150m members.  LinkedIn has grown organically over the last few years to become the de facto place for job seekers, networkers and recruiters to engage in professional activity.

Which leads me onto my second point: if we are to successfully change consumer behaviour, then we need to offer compelling reasons to do so – and as yet, BeKnown offers nothing different to LinkedIn.  I understand that these are very early days, but everything appears to be a carbon copy of LinkedIn, for example ‘Endorsements’ instead of ‘Recommendations’; ‘connections’, ‘experience’ etc. – there’s no dynamic unique selling point that makes me think, ‘wow, I NEED to be on BeKnown!’

Finally, BeKnown offers a ‘gamification’ element, with the issue of badges for certain tasks.  Gamification has become prevalent in social media society – apps such as Foursquare and GetGlue allow users to ‘compete’ with each other for points and badge unlocks, conveying social prestige and social currency.  But in professional terms, this aspect has been relatively untested.  One could argue that issuing users with ‘stickers’ for various professional achievements could in fact ‘cheapen’ those feats.

It’s very early days yet, and Monster seems to have invested a lot of work into a slick, well-functioning app.  However, asking users to completely change their behaviour and switch their allegiance from a very established professional platform in LinkedIn to Facebook, which has traditionally been focused on the personal rather than the professional, could be tricky indeed.

Only time will tell…

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6 responses to “BeKnown: will it fail to change BeHaviour?

  1. Nice post Callum. I cannot imagine that this will radically change any established behaviour – LinkedIn already has such a massive user base – but it may ‘catch’ younger people who perhaps have not yet progressed far enough in their careers to bother with a LinkedIn profile. It would only take a few years for that group to build up critical mass of its own. Another point is that surely Monster is mainly doing this in order to build up the mother and father of all candidate databases?

    Interestingly, one of the respondents to my social media survey (more at http://www.masalaprinciple.com) says that her organisation uses LinkedIn to QUALIFY job applicants and uses Facebook to DISQUALIFY them. I wonder how BeKnown will deal with that?

  2. @Tim — I hope that respondent isn’t in.the U.S. who said they use FB to disqualify candidates… I am surprised there have not been more lawsuits over being rejected for a position based on information on FB or other social sites.

    With FB’s shady privacy practices I would be very weary that they can keep these worlds separate.

  3. @ Tim – thanks for your comments! I agree with your comments re. ‘catching’ a younger generation – I’m currently working on a marketing internship scheme with our clients and many graduate applicants are not yet on LinkedIn, whilst Facebook is of course their natural habitat.

    @Brian / Tim – Germany has also just passed legislation re. vetting candidates on Facebook. I understand that there are stringent privacy settings in place in order to ensure that BeKnown remains ‘separate’ from the main Facebook account; however when I signed up, the profile picture that the app used was my default Facebook profile picture. On this occasion it was OK, but immediately, if you have a profile picture that is a photo of you and your friends drinking on a stag do for example, this immediately causes conflicting images.

  4. My nephew is a grad student in college and he tells me all his friends are bailing on Facebook. College kids were tired of being friends with their parents, cousins, grandparents.

  5. I am no expert on employment law, but I think there’s a risk that the threat of litigation here is overplayed. ‘Failure to hire’ litigation is rare, even in the US – so surely ‘failure to even interview’ litigation must be more or less non-existent?

    If a claim of discrimination is made, and it can be shown that the employer checked social media sites as part of the screening process….well I suppose there could be an exposure there. But given that probably 90%+ of all applicants for a given post don’t get on the shortlist, how likely do we really feel it is that a court would decide the exclusion from that list of any particular candidate amounted to discrimination in the first place?

    As for Germany, I didn’t know the law had actually been passed – although I was aware that the government was in favour of introducing some sort of controls.

  6. Tim — I deal with lots of large companies and although the threat of litigation may be small they don’t want to run the risk. I know of some hospitals that prohibit their HR people from even looking at social sites when hiring.

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