BeBee At the Crossroads: Wrapping Up This Series
WRAPPING UP WHAT HAS TURNED OUT TO BE A REASONABLY POPULAR SERIES ABOUT BEBEE, WHAT IT IS AND WHAT IT COULD BECOME...
Preface: I started this series slightly less than a year ago with the article "Affinity Networking On the Line". That piece generated a huge number of comments and the longest discussion thread I've ever achieved.
Since then, there followed six more articles in the series, each talking about an aspect of beBee's potential development and growth. The discussions range from what a perfect publisher would look like to how beBee might step into the vacuum created by LikedIn as it dismantled its Groups.
Some readers agreed with the points I made, and some disagreed... vehemently. But I think it's all been to the good since candid discussion and exchange of ideas and opinion is what it's all about. And the spirit displayed in the lively discussions was one of optimism about beBee's potential and what appeared to be the opportunity to have some input into the development of a new, upstart, truly user-centric social media platform.
Now, with the long-awaited second iteration of the platform about to be launched and beBee's direction strongly writ, if not actually carved in stone, it seems appropriate to wrap up what has to date been an open-ended conversation. For beBee has arrived at a crossroad ― where walking the walk needs to supersede merely talking the talk.
Without proven engagement drivers like LinkedIn Groups and high-quality independent writing on LinkedIn's Publishing platform, LinkedIn would likely devolve into no more than a place for professionals to park their digital CVs/resumés.Data Analyst and LinkedIn Expert, Samantha Bailey, in Signposts to the Imminent Diminution of LinkedIn Groups and Professional Networking, LinkedIn, February, 2017
Make no mistake, LinkedIn's history and experience over the past fourteen years comprise the 800-pound gorilla in the room that social media and professional networking start-ups ignore at their peril.
The main lesson taught by that history is that engagement is one of the key factors in making a social networking platform more that just a lackluster resume-parking and recruitment-search facility ― engagement between readers and authors, and engagement of users with each other.
By "engagement", I mean here authentic intellectual and social exchange, in which people discuss ideas, opinions, and feelings, and do not just mindlessly compliment one another.
In other words, where there is a genuine commitment to the maxim "content is king" and not just the payment of lip service.
If content is king, then organic networking is the queen...
A second key factor is organic networking, that is, the systematic support of user-driven connections. While the third is user-centric development that provides the tools and features that users want and need, not just what the platform thinks it needs in order to control and profit from their activity.
Identifying these key factors is not just some airy-fairy rumination, but rather a fact-based observation. For the history is that existing major algorithmically-controlled social nets experienced their greatest growth spurts during times when they were less controlled and more organic.
¨Content is king, and if you want to be the king of social networks you must dedicate time and effort into ... content creation.¨
Javier Camara, CEO of beBee in Content Creation, A Must To Attract Audience And Consumers, on beBee
Content and Engagement are intimately related. If a social media platform wants to generate strong engagement, then it needs fresh, interesting, engaging content. This fact has been demonstrated on LinkedIn and later on beBee. Moreover, an overwhelming percentage of the most desirable content flows onto a platform via long-post self-publishing.
Therefore, if beBee wants to build engagement ― in the true sense of the term ― it would do well going forward to take very seriously the importance of its Producer sub-platform, its promotion, and operation.
I also suggest that it's critical to understand engagement involves more than mutual exchanges of honey-drenched accolades. While a writer may at first feel elated over receiving bouquets of kudos from his or her peers, such elation is generally short lived ...
... once a writer realizes such exchanges do not truly constitute engagement, but as an activity, are akin to talking to yourself in a mirror.
Moreover, engagement is fueled not only by long-form posts themselves but by the active discussions which grow like symbiotic organisms in the comment threads of those posts.
Thus, if beBee wants to build engagement, it needs, I submit, to encourage lively and stimulating exchanges or, at the very least, it needs to refrain from creating an ethos that confines the platform environment to being an incarnation of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
The experience with LinkedIn Groups should serve as both a roadmap and a warning to beBee concerning the structure of its affinity-based Hives...
As LinkedIn moved away from pro-actively managed Groups to a much looser system that more closely resembles beBee's hives, LI suffered increased user dissatisfaction.
Anyone who has more than just a passing acquaintance with Groups on LinkedIn ― as they were structured and supported before 2015 ― knows their power to engage business people and professionals in wide-ranging industry-specific discussions and to generate seriously large membership numbers.
Simply because, in some misguided paroxysm of bad judgment, LinkedIn effectively dismantled its original Groups, there is no reason for beBee to overlook the huge potential serious business and professional groups have for attracting large numbers of users to the platform.
Looking back over this series, I see the following themes running through the discussions:
1) Meaningful content builds Engagement.
2) Active Engagement builds the user base.
3) The market awaits the development of a genuinely user-centric social media platform.
4) A strong publishing sub-platform with organically based distribution attracts writers who produce meaningful content.
5) Organic affinity-based networking appeals to business people and professionals who want to interact with their colleagues and peers.
6) Organic affinity-based networking also appeals to and supports those whose interests run to more "creative left-brained" activity (as Ian Weinberg and Sara Jacobovici might put it) and thereby facilitates left-brainers, right-brainers, and even no-brainers to exist simultaneously on the platform, thereby widening its appeal to potential users.
7) There is a substantial vacuum in the market for a platform that incorporates strong, empowered industry- and profession-specific groups (hives).
Anyway, that's the way I see it as I seek to wrap up this series of articles. What do you think? As always, your comments and criticisms are invited and appreciated.
― Phil Friedman
Author's Notes: The previous articles in this beBee vs beBee series are ―
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About me, Phil Friedman: With 30 some years background in the marine industry, I've worn numerous hats — as a yacht designer, boat builder, marine operations and business manager, marine industry consultant, marine marketing and communications specialist, yachting magazine writer and editor, yacht surveyor, and marine industry educator. I am also trained and experienced in interest-based negotiation and mediation.
In a previous life, I was formally trained as an academic philosopher and taught logic and philosophy at university.
Before writing comes thinking (The optional-to-read pitch)
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