Unless you have been hiding under a stone for the last few days, or off-line recovering from the festivals at Glastonbury and Hard Rock Calling, you will have heard of the BeKnown Facebook application launched by Monster, simultaneously in 35 countries. It’s a brave move by Monster, aimed at building an alternative professional community to LinkedIn, linking social channels with their established job seeker and employer communities, taking things beyond the static job board and c.v. database.
The numbers behind this thinking are quite simple. There are 500Mn + users of Facebook.Theres 80Mn C.V.’s on the Monster database, so wider reach and increased coverage has exciting possibilities. Sign up is simple, you can export your details from Monster, LinkedIn, Facebook and your other social places once you’ve given access permission.
This is where I think the product needs a bit more info on how the access is going to be used. My experience of asking people to allow access to their connections is that the purpose needs to be explicit. People are naturally suspicious that you are either going to steal or spam their contacts. What you are actually asking them to do is make their life easier in building their BeKnown network, and to share jobs with the right people. The Monster name, as well as the use of the standard authorisation recognised by everyone will help with this in user confidence.
Inevitably, comparisons will be made between BranchOut and BeKnown. both applications live in Facebook for a start, and are billed as professional networks in what is still largely a social channel. LinkedIn for Facebook if you will. Both applications have some other similar features, though I see the monster global brand, reach and established job seeker and employer connections give them the distinct edge. Friends have to be invited to connect individually, which can be laborious, but I think this could prove to be a key feature. It’s easy to find friends to add from all of your social places including Facebook, LinkedIn, G-Mail, Twitter and there are plans to add regional networks like Xing, Hyves, etc. I think the individual invites will lead to a more targeted list of connections, which is no bad thing. Invites also have to be accepted, which again gives BeKnown the advantage. Your network may not be as big as your empire, but the connections will be deeper and more relevent. Round One Monster. 

One of the frustrations I have with BranchOut is that despite building an empire of close to 1000 contacts without really trying,I can’t do anything with them other than send jobs. I can’t see any real difference in this with BeKnown. To build more of a social community I think there would be a real benefit to introducing more social features like links, video etc in an open stream. . It could be argued that this single purpose keeps the channel clean and clear, after all, isn’t Facebook for the other stuff in the open channel.You can however send person to person messages and embed links in this way.

I really like the profile page on BeKnown, and completion is almost instant, as the info is pulled from LinkedIn, Facebook and your monster profile if you have one as well as giving you plenty of opportunity to edit or add additional links. You choose your profile picture from your Facebook pictures, but it’s your choice. You can also choose which features to open up to everyone or just to your connections like your phone number or e-mail, respecting user privacy. A key concern for Facebook users in particular.

BeKnown, like BranchOut, are looking to promote the channel through gaming principles. That means recognition badges for achievements. Serious commentators on social have questioned the seriousness of these badges but the number of people who choose to share achievement badges in Facebook and Twitter for other applications like EmpireAvenue, Klout or BranchOut show that people value social recognition, and look to work to the next level.This could be an important feature in promoting the application, leading to user growth.

The default setting on job posting and badges/recognition is to post to your wall or stream, to your BeKnown  network or not to share at all. Given the negative publicity that BranchOut attracted from this, i’m not sure it wouldn’t have been wiser to reverse the order, allowing users to choose to share rather than choose not to, and will watch how this evolves with interest.

The recommended jobs feature is driven by the monster job matching technology to suggest  jobs to you, based on your profile. Looking at the jobs recommended to me, the jobs are matched first by location followed by my listed skills. It’s the concentration on skills that I think differentiates BeKnown from other applications. I’ve blogged in the past about the Jobsite.UK data that shows job seekers search for jobs by location first, followed by skills and not job titles and sectors as you might suspect.(only recruiters search for candidates in this way.) Matching in this way will return jobs as job seekers want them, and the greater the relevance of the match, the more faith they will have in using it.

The profiles are built on skills rather than jobs. It is easy to build number of years experience and level of skills and level of ability. Users ask others to endorse their skills rather than reference them at jobs.LinkedIn launched a simmilar skills feature (without the endorsement capability,) although this is a key feature in the linkedIn matching engine, along with location, it’s still largely not completed by users who are unaware of it.It is a more accurate means of matching, less ambiguous than job titles. The endorsements will help reinforce this, another win for BeKnown.

Another interesting feature that I think has some legs is the opportunity to follow companies for content as well as job postings, and for companies to tag and follow user profiles for updates and endorsements. This is similar to the Facebook talent platform being built by London based BraveNewTalent. It will be interesting to see how this feature takes off for future hires. There’s been a lot talked about the benefit of building talent communities. With this volume of users, with searchable skills it might just become a reality, with additional benefits to employers to add content around their brand aimed at attracting future hires. It’s about much more than jobs!

My experience of using the Work4Labs app is that applications work best and are most effective when job seekers can stay within FaceBook when applying. The numbers show quite a high drop off rate when they leave the channel and go to an ATS. BeKnown allows for applications through Monster without leaving the channel. It is seamless, and something that will only encourage employers who see Facebook as the channel with the most potential applicants to combine Monster advertising with BeKnown. 

The last area that i think is worth keeping an eye on is a referral feature that is currently in Beta. I don’t know anything about it yet, so I can’t really comment more, but companies are increasingly recognising the potential of social referrals and reach for hiring. This could be a very useful additional feature soon.

The application is a bit buggy at the moment. The LinkedIn API only allows you to invite 10 people at a time at the moment, without advising users untill after they’ve invited many more, and the twitter invite friends feature suggested I had no followers on the first 3 trys. I think we can forgive Monster some teething problems, history suggests that they will sort these out quickly as long as they know. If your finding issues now, as you inevitably will, be sure to feed it back.

Early summary, it’s very credible, and given the existing number of monster users who already live on facebook, BeKnown has real potential. I’m going to invite Monster to attend #TruBoston on the 19th/20th July, along with BranchOut, Work4Labs, Bullhorn Reach and BraveNewTalent to take part in a track looking at where FaceBook is going for recruiting. I hope they will all attend, it will make for a great conversation!

Thanks to David Henry, VP Digital Media and Marketing for Monster Europe for giving me a tour of the application. What do you think of it so far? What will this mean for the socialising of job boards in the future?

Bill

Links:

Sign Up For BeKnown on Facebook

David Henry

Buy Tickets For #TruBoston