Phil Friedman en beBee in English, Social Media, English Writer/Editor - Marketer - Ghost Writer - Marine Industry Consultant • Port Royal Group 30/11/2016 · 5 min de lectura · 5,8K

Differentiation Thru Conversation: BeBee and the Quest for Market Share

Differentiation Thru Conversation: BeBee and the Quest for Market Share

THE LION'S SHARE OF ANY MARKET GOES TO THE FIRM THAT BEST DIFFERENTIATES ITSELF FROM THE COMPETITION...


Preface:  This piece could have been titled "With Some More Help For My Friends", as it is, in many respects, a natural sequel to "With a Little Help For My Friends"   And yes, I realize that what follows may not be any of my business. However, that has never before stopped me from voicing an opinion.

But before I do that, I need to make note of the following:  While I was working on this piece, Milos Djukic initiated a discussion by sharing a LinkedIn post by Mark M-G entitled, "Time to Ask an Important Question". Mark's piece questioned whether LI-designated "Influencers" were using the platform to accomplish anything significant.  And Milos's share of the article generated a what I believe is a significant comment thread which eventually turned to considering what beBee is doing or not doing to build credibility for its platform. The discussion attached to that share should not, I think, be missed, so I include reference to it here and recommend that you read that discussion, as well as Mark M-G's article.


Differentiation In a market sector is almost always the most direct path to achieving a major market share...


Every marketing person worth his or her salt knows that one key objective is to differentiate one's firm or product from the competition in the marketplace. In my experience, the most direct path to increased market share is via such differentiation ―  combined with the offer of non-price-comparable value in the product or service being marketed.

Admittedly, the strategy of self-differentiating is often rejected by firms in their quest for market penetration. Instead, some decide to self-position directly opposite the firm or firms (or products or services) they perceive as the top competitor(s) in the relevant market segment.

And to offer either

1) more benefits and value at the same price, or

2) the same value and benefits at a lower price.

A good example of this scenario was Volvo when it decided to position its newly introduced S80 touring sedan opposite BMW and Mercedes-Benz luxury sedans in the same price range.

The idea in such cases is to pick off some of the "leader's" market share by becoming associated in the buyer's mind with that leader's benefits and delivered value. If you like, credibility (instead of guilt) by association.


Sometimes it's better not  to position directly opposite the market leader..



As  I see it, the danger is that, in many cases, the market leader will kick the challenger's ass, if the latter insists on pursuing a point-by-point comparison. And this is Independent of any "interpretive" spin the challenger may try to overlay on the comparison.

For example, not too long ago, I read some statements that made a direct comparison of beBee to LinkedIn, which I have no doubt were made with sincere intent. The problem is the claims don't hold up.


1) LinkedIn is restricted to professional interests, whereas beBee combines professional and personal interests.

Fact is, there are more than 2,000 groups on LI devoted to "personal" interests, including but not limited to creative writing, art appreciation and collecting, amateur photography, music appreciation, automobile lovers, boating enthusiasts, cooking and other crafts, sports fans, and various athletic pursuits.


2) LinkedIn is restricted in terms of making new connections, whereas beBee enables you to make new connections who have interests in common with you.

Fact is, LinkedIn users are not limited to past and present connections, but are making new connections all the time.  Perhaps, the real question is or ought to be how many of those connections are strong, meaningful, or useful.


3) LinkedIn restricts you to connecting by invitation only, whereas beBee supports one-way following.

Fact is that, beside the two-way "connections" that require mutual acceptance, LI users are able to "follow" other users in a one-way, open mode.


4) LinkedIn groups are "closed", whereas beBee hives are open.

Actually, LinkedIn effectively eliminated "closed" groups more than a year ago, in a move that completely undermined the ability of professionals to operate and manage meaningful industry- and profession-specific groups.

As I will argue later in this post, beBee should be moving to provide the group management tools for hives, on an optional basis, that LinkedIn foolishly abandoned in its misguided quest for increased algorithmic control.


5) LinkedIn charges for basic services, whereas beBee is 100% free.
Again, the fact is that LI does not  charge a fee for a "basic" account, which includes the tools to 1)  build a professional identity on the web,  2) build a network of connections and followers,  3) request up to five introductions at a time,  4) search for and view the profiles of other LI members,  5) receive unlimited InMail messages (although not send them), and 6) save up to three searches, and get weekly alerts on these searches.

None of which is to say that LinkedIn is better than beBee. It is to say that, if beBee is indeed a better platform than LI (and I believe that it is), there are better ways to demonstrate that claim to superiority.



The BIG FACT  is that beBee beats LinkedIn and other major social media platforms on several counts that uniquely differentiate it from other social media platforms...

First and perhaps foremost, beBee has responsive ownership and management who are growing and evolving the platform in accord with the perceived interests and preferences of its user base.


I don't know about you guys, but I have never, ever heard personally from Jeff Weiner, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, or any other social media mogul. I have, however, several times received personal and direct messages from Javier Rica and Juan Imaz. That is not a big difference; it is a HUGE difference.


Second, beBee's Producer sub-platform comes about as close to being true "volkspublishing" as you can get.


As I see it, the publishing sub-platform is the heart of contemporary social media, which is one reason why LinkedIn experienced geometric growth following the introduction of its long-post self-publishing feature -- and why, by the way, it was driven to the folly of not allowing Pulse to grow and thrive organically, but instead to seek to control and direct it algorithmically. 


Javier beBee and Juan Imaz have committed to the stable organic growth of the Producer publishing platform. And indeed have committed publicly to delivering 100% of a writer's posts to 100% of that writer's followers 100% of the time -- another HUGE differentiator for beBee versus LinkedIn and the other platforms such as Facebook.


A third big plus on beBee's side of the ledger is its policy of nurturing the organic growth of personal and business networks on the platform, rejoicing in their development, rather than treating them as a threat -- the latter being something I long suspected LinkedIn of doing.


The fourth and final point in this string of differentiators is the fact that the "conversation" on beBee is on average more literate, colorful, and intellectually lively than what I've seen on LI in all the years since I first joined in 2009.


BeBee implicitly encourages all manner of creativity and does, in general, live up to its claim to have a place for everyone -- even the likes of Jim Able who delights in taking satiric pokes at beBee, its ownership, and its buzzing bees.



BeBee may "bee" able to differentiate itself from the competition, but that doesn't mean it's perfect...

Yea, I know, I know. Here's where I defend myself against the frequent charge that I am too positive.

As I've said several times before, I am an early-adopter of beBee, as well as a friend and ardent supporter of the platform. And I believe that friends don't let friends drive off the road -- at least not without trying to set them straight. So, here are a couple of marketing points that have been rolling around in my head for a while and which are presented at this time for what they may be worth.


If I had my druthers, beBee would move to structure some hives in the way that LinkedIn used to structure its groups, but abandoned.

Initially, the owner of an LI group could optionally designate it "closed" and/or "private". Closed meant membership in the group had to be approved by the group's management team. And private meant that the exchanges in the group could only be seen by group members. This enabled the creation and maintenance of groups based on professional or industry affinity. And those in which frank and open discussions could be conducted.

Even in "open" and/or "public" groups on LI, owners could opt to have postings of discussions and articles to the group subject to moderation. This enabled group ownership and management to keep the group postings free of extraneous articles and discussions, unrelated to the group's raison d'etre. And would be a big advantage in growing Affinity Networking in a truly meaningful way.

This is not a suggestion to restrict membership or postings in all  beBee hives, only a recommendation to provide an option to hive owners and managers. The result would be attractive to a large number of LinkedIn group owners, who built major groups on LI with tens of thousands of members, only to find those groups effectively destroyed by LI's changes to group management capabilities. Moreover, in the current market circumstances, the move would provide beBee with still another exceedingly strong point of differentiation.



A final thought:  if you're marketing coal, you don't do it in Newcastle...

The United States has a U.S. Ambsassador to Canada. And a U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain. And one to France. And Russia, China, and so on. Even a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

But what the United States doesn't have is a U.S. Ambassador to the United States. Why not? Because you don't preach to the choir. Or -- to put it in terms that might make sense to beBee fans of Jesse Kaellis's writing -- you don't get all full of yourself for managing to bed a Las Vegas call girl.

When beBee first announced its Brand Ambassadors program, I thought it was a marketing masterstroke. Whether one saw it as a variant of "influencer marketing" or a version of "advocate marketing", it appeared to have the potential to place brand boosters out into the hinterlands not only to sing the praises of beBee, but to cross-post cracker-jack content on competing platforms and, thereby, pull potential users in large numbers over to beBee to look around.

But speaking bluntly -- perhaps, too bluntly for some who may read this -- the reality is that only a relatively few ambassadors are actually laying their "honey traps" in the woods, while most are spending their time in concierge services and in boosting each other on beBee itself. Which may make for a warm, fuzzy environment, but is reminiscent of hunting for bear in the barn. IMHO.  -- Phil Friedman


Author' Notes:  If you found this post interesting and worthwhile and would like to receive notifications of my writings on a regular basis, click the [FOLLOW] button on my beBee profile. Better yet, elect there to follow my blog by email. As a writer-friend of mine says, you can always change your mind later.

As well, you comments, likes, and shares are always welcome, whether you agree with what I've said or not.

This post is part of a series on beBee-related issues. Should you be curious about the other posts in the series, you can find them at:


"Affinity Networking Is On the Line" (#1)

"I Wish, I Wish ... for a Perfect Publisher" (#2)

"How Do You Really Build Engagement?" (#3)

"With a Little Help for My Friends"  (#4)


About me, Phil FriedmanWith 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) :  

As a professional writer, editor, university educator, and speaker, with more than 1,000 print and digital publications, I've recently launched an online program for enhancing your expository writing: learn2engage — With Confidence. My mission is to help writers and would-be writers improve their thought and writing, master the logic of discussion, and strengthen their ability to deal with disagreement... which I have found to be the natural precursor to improved writing.



To schedule an appointment for a free 1/2-hour consult or to sit in on one of our online group sessions, email: info@learn2engage.org. I look forward to speaking with you soon.





Phil Friedman Hace 10 h · #151

#128 #129 Thank you, Juan, for reading and commenting. And for the kind words. Contrary to a few (very few) interpretations expressed in this thread, I have in no way said that I wanted to control how beBee develops or how it's operating procedures have to be. As always, I have only expressed my opinion and recommendations as to what I believe would be advantageous to the stable growth and ultimate success of beBee -- based on my experience in business and as an active user of social media since about 2009. And I believe that you and Javier understand that. My thanks to you for what you guys have done to keep the platform open to independent writers and to keep the playing field reasonably level. Cheers!

0
Max🐝 J. Carter Hace 3 d · #150

#149 So what you are saying here Phil is that you want the power to choose who can give you a critique of your work.

Why?

It seems to me that the more eyes you have on it, the better chance you have of someone catching something the others would miss.

In my mind you are only limiting your own potential for growth in this practice.

-1 -1
Phil Friedman Hace 3 d · #149

#148 Pretty obviously, Elizabeth, closed groups should not predominate on a "social" media platform. But, as a natural matter, they would never do so because the owners of most groups want high membership numbers. But sometimes and for some purposes, a closed group works best. (Closed in the sense that only group members can see the interactions.) I own a long-established writer's group on LinkedIn, which was closed, And because it was, members could comfortably discuss their work candidly, critique each other's ideas, styles, and so on -- and in general have a sometimes raucous good time without fear of being ridiculed by trolls or others.

I also own an industry-specific group there, which is composed mostly of industry professionals and business people in that sector, and before LI changed the rules concerning moderation, we had many very informative and intense conversations about issues pertaining to the particular industry sector involved. You just can't do that when anybody and his brother can willy nilly post whatever blather they feel like posting, relevant or not, informed or not.

My point is that private and closed groups can work out better when set up and run properly. As I'm sure you will agree, although one had the right to speak his or her minds, we don't have the right to force everyone to listen or to expect free access to all conversations.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Cheers!

0
Elizabeth Bailey Hace 3 d · #148

Well I may as well add my ha'pennys worth. I hate the thought of being excluded from a group I requested to join, but ... I am a member of a number of closed VA groups on Facebook which is a safe place for VAs to ask for advice or help. It is a very valuable resource and I wouldn't be without it.

+2 +2
Robert Bacal Hace 3 d · #147

#141 I agree that more tools are good. I also believe that if you want TOTAL control over the tools you get, set up your own damned forums on your own domains, and then you can do exactly as you wish, and stop being dependent on, and whining to companies that owe you nothing.

Why smart people continue to rely on third party platforms, WHILE complaining all the time is beyond me. You and others bash linkedin incessantly, and no doubt you'll do the same if BeBee doesn't do as you wish.

Such a sense of entitlement, and helplessness. Get off your duff and do it. The only way to get what you want.

+2 +2
Phil Friedman Hace 3 d · #146

All - your engagement and contributions to this conversation are genuinely appreciated. For those who may not have seen or read it, the following post is recommended as a precursor of this one: ( https://www.bebee.com/producer/@friedman-phil/affinity-networking-is-on-the-line ) Thank you all for all your contributions. Sometimes the comments and discussion are more important than the post itself, and this is, I think one of those times.

0
Phil Friedman Hace 3 d · #145

Thank you, @Andrew Goldman and @David B. Grinberg for liking and sharing this post.,I think the conversation is important, indeed, more important than the piece itself. Thank you, as well, for your support.

0
Max🐝 J. Carter Hace 3 d · #144

#141 Thanks for the profile view Phil on Li I appreciate yo tasking an interest in me.

0