Today Monster.com dropped the gauntlet and launched BeKnown, a new Facebook application that hopes to become the professional social network for Facebook users, and a vital new tool for recruiters, human resources, and talent acquisition teams. In this blog post we will explain this market and preview some of the exciting features in this important new offering.
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.
The Use of Social Networks for Corporate Recruiting It turns out, as the LinkedIn financials show, that social networks are powerful recruiting and job seeking tools. The $120 billion corporate recruiting industry is being transformed (and upset) by LinkedIn because the system is such a powerful tool for recruiters to find passive candidates. People in the LinkedIn network maintain their profile actively, giving recruiters a real-time, highly accurate database from which to search and contact candidates.
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
BeKnown has dozens of powerful features for professional networking, and many extend beyond where LinkedIn is today. Not only can you build a professional profile (from your Facebook profile, but with a different photo and different information), but you can leverage your Facebook friends and connections immediately.
Some of the key features include:
- The ability to invite connections from both Facebook and your LinkedIn network, Gmail, Yahoo, and other email systems
- The ability to share different information and photos professionally than you do in Facebook today (a major important feature)
- The ability to claim and manage company profiles
- The ability to post and share jobs
- The ability to earn “badges,” which are professional achievements (a form of game rewards) for having the most number of connections, a large number of connections at the executive level, helping and endorsing others, etc.
- The ability to give references and focus these recommendations based on a friend’s competencies or capabilities
- The ability to follow companies and view jobs from those companies, which are matched against your BeKnown profile (and your Monster.com profile)
- Support for 19 languages.
Fig 3: BeKnown Profile Page
Connections: Monster walked me through the workflows for the system and it is very easy to use with a wide array of features, including the ability to find friends and invite them from a variety of networks (Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, LinkedIn, Yahoo). Yes, you can import your LinkedIn connections!
Fig 4: BeKnown Invite Friends
Badges: One new feature which people will find entertaining is the creation of "badges" (a social gaming feature). Individuals can earn badges by getting a degree, completing a certification, recommending a lot of friends, creating a large number of connections, and performing other tasks which are either difficult or unique. Monster expects to expand the badging concept in many ways as the network grows.
Fig 5: BeKnown Badges
Jobs: Since Monster is a talent acquisition company, the system has some unique features to help people find jobs and to help small and mid-sized businesses recruit people. The system will proactively display jobs which are recommended by friends (creating a “JobVite”-like referral network) and recommended by the system. This is a major feature for job seekers – making it very easy for them to see a customized feed of jobs they are interested in every time they login.
Fig 6: Free Job Listings (available to your BeKnown connections)
The Jobs system is very powerful and easy to use. A user can apply for a job in a single click, and information from the BeKnown network is automatically submitted. Recruiters can create jobs on their company pages at any time (with no charges to offer to an individual's network), so BeKnown should quickly start to house a large number of jobs. Monster.com job listings are also integrated into the system, so users immediately see many jobs when they click the "jobs" button.
Fig 7: Job Page and Job Feed
Referrals: One of the features Monster is adding is the ability for a company to post referral fees and pay referral fees to users who bring candidates to key jobs. This is a tremendously powerful way for recruiters to hire higher quality candidates, which has tremendous potential if well implemented.
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
Company Pages: As a system for corporate recruiters, Monster has extended the concept of “job pages” to let anyone who “claims” a company profile to post jobs for free to their BeKnown network (yes, Free!) and then customize the company page to build a corporate brand. Today’s Facebook Pages are much more limited for recruitment, so this lets small and mid-sized companies build much more useful Facebook career pages than they can today.
Fig 9: BeKnown Company Pages
What does this Mean for Job Seekers, Recruiters, and the Talent Acquisition Industry
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.)