Facebook vs. LinkedIn for Professional Social Networking
As most people in the talent acquisition industry know, LinkedIn has become a major force in the corporate recruiting market. The company’s stellar IPO and and rapid growth as “the professional social network” has created a transformational platform for corporate recruiters and job seekers. Corporate recruiting is LinkedIn’s fastest growing revenue stream, and the company is now aggressively building new tools and services. Today the LinkedIn network has around 100 million users and is growing at a rate of nearly 3 million per month.
While this growth is wonderful for LinkedIn’s investors and most corporate recruiters, there is an entire world of Facebook users who do not use LinkedIn (yet). Facebook, with more than 750 million users, taps into a broader audience who uses the network for different purposes. Facebook users keep in touch with friends, play games, share photos and family news, publish personal information, and often promote information about their children, pets, and local activities. They even publish their location. And as the data below shows, they tend to be younger, of a lower household income, and of a slightly lower education level. And because of the way Facebook works, the information they share is not “sanitized” or “edited” for business purposes.
The following chart shows some of the demographic differences between these networks.
Fig 1: Facebook vs. LinkedIn vs. Monster Networks (Comscore March, 2011)
So, despite LinkedIn's tremendous growth, there is still a huge untapped network of Facebook users who are not yet taking advantage of professional social networking. (A "professional social network" is one that we use for business networking, recruiting, and the promotion of our professional expertise and experience, so it requires a different set of features and security than Facebook offers today.) BeKnown has the potential to bring professional social networking to this huge new audience.
And the growth of LinkedIn has dramatically impacted many of the big players in this market. Executive recruitment firms like Heidrick and Struggles, Korn Ferry, and Spencer Stuart are losing the value of their proprietary executive networks. Mid-sized recruiting companies are seeing big companies develop more and more expertise in the use of social networking internally. And large job boards like Monster.com, The Ladders, and others are seeing job seekers (and recruiters) move their dollars and energy toward LinkedIn.
The first professional networking application in Facebook is BranchOut, which has built around a million users already. The launch of BeKnown, developed by Monster, is a major move to change these dynamics and give Monster a significant opportunity to play in the Facebook network of job seekers and recruitment needs.
Monster.com is one of the biggest and most experienced players in the corporate recruiting market. The company operates a vast array of websites, advertising services, and media tools to help job seekers and recruiters with more than 49 million unique visitors globally. The company generatess over $1 Billion in revenue and has continued to grow over the last few years - but has seen its business slow because of the growth in social networks, vertical job boards, and job aggregators like Indeed.com. Corporate recruiters tell us that they have shifted their spending away from Monster.com advertising and are starting to spend money on LinkedIn, Facebook, and their own employment branding strategies.
Monster’s team has a deep understanding of the recruiting industry and understand these trends. Last year the company introduced its new SixthSense search technology which make it easier than ever for recruiters and job seekers to search, select, filter, and find the right job match across all the Monster properties.
But despite the company’s continued growth internationally and investments in search and advertising, Monster has been fighting an inexorable trend toward social networks – which ultimately become the magnet for recruiters. Corporate recruiters go where the people are – so ultimately advertising revenue and new service revenue is moving toward LinkedIn and Facebook.
The company hopes to change this dynamic completely with BeKnown.
BeKnown: Professional Social Networking for Facebook
A simple way to understand BeKnown is this: it is a professional social networking application which mimics and extends many of the features of LinkedIn within the Facebook network. If you are a Facebook user, it appears as an application – but once you join you become a member of the BeKnown network and can now manage your professional and social identities separately, but still on the Facebook platform.
Fig 2: The BeKnown Application in Facebook
Some of the key features include:
Fig 3: BeKnown Profile Page
Fig 4: BeKnown Invite Friends
Fig 5: BeKnown Badges
Fig 6: Free Job Listings (available to your BeKnown connections)
Fig 7: Job Page and Job Feed
Endorsements with Skills: In addition to an "endorsement" feature similar to LinkedIn, BeKnown adds a feature to let people endorse other people's skills, and specifically note when and how the endorser worked with the job candidate. The endorsement concept has not turned out to be very useful (because there are never any negative endorsements), so this is an attempt to try to make endorsements more powerful. Once an endorsement or badge is attached to a person, the new information appears on their Facebook Wall.
Fig 8: Endorsements
Fig 9: BeKnown Company Pages
While the system is brand new, and yet unproven in the market – our belief is that this solution has the potential to become one of the major social recruiting networks in the marketplace. Monster will focus its extensive marketing efforts at the Facebook audience, hoping to rapidly establish BeKnown as people’s “professional networking” application within Facebook (which now has 750 million worldwide users). And the existing Monster network of 22 million visitors will help fuel this growth.
For social networking users and job seekers, BeKnown is a natural and easy way to extend your Facebook identity into a more protected, job-seeker profile. The 600 million "non-LinkedIn" users in Facebook can use BeKnown as an entry point to build their own professional network. LinkedIn users who may not want their Facebook identities shared can use BeKnow to build professional networks through their Facebook friends, many of whom may not use LinkedIn today.
As a tool for professionals, BeKnown gives users the ability to more carefully control what information they share – enabling people to finally separate their “family and personal” Facebook account from their “Professional” facebook profile in BeKnown.
For recruiters, BeKnown extends Facebook with features to make recruiting far easier. Recruiters can easily set up company pages, post jobs, create referral networks, and leverage existing Monster job listings among the BeKnown network. The system’s features for badging, job sharing, job referrals, and company pages should quickly create a “market for jobs” which builds upon Facebook’s reach, but bypasses Facebook’s more generalized advertising system.
For professionals who actively use LinkedIn today, this is a directly competitive system (and now another professional network to manage). My guess is that BeKnown is more likely to attract people who do not use LinkedIn today, attracting the millions of people who may be slightly younger or in an earlier stage of their career than those on LinkedIn (high school, new college graduates, people younger in their careers who are already addicted to Facebook). As powerful as LinkedIn is today, it is a more “button down shirt” environment than Facebook – so naturally appeals to people with more senior positions and often coming from an older demographic.
What is Facebook’s relationship with this new application? None. This is not a Facebook-endorsed service: Monster is going alone here – leveraging the Facebook network to build a new community and service of its own. If it takes off (as I believe it will), Facebook might see it as competitive to its own advertising business – or might look to replicate the functionality itself.
The ultimate test will be how fast the network grows. Monster is an innovative company and understands the need for proactive and aggressive marketing - so watch for a lot of advertising and noise about this new offering. The system is well designed, easy to use, and provides value in many new ways. If Monster can market the service well and build a strong groundswell of users, BeKnown has the potential to become a significant new player in the world of social recruiting. (Its main Facebook competitor today is BranchOut, a venture-based startup which is already growing rapidly.)
(Bersin & Associates Research Members, please read our in-depth research bulletin on this announcement for more details.)
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Josh Bersin writes on the ever-changing landscape of business-driven learning, HR and talent management.
His favorite topics include strategic talent management, creating high-impact learning organizations,
and how organizations drive business change and competitive advantage through talent strategy and technology.
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