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The Mirror : Oct.12, 2016 : Trends

The Mirror : Oct.12, 2016 : TrendsHere's my now-monthly informal/thumbnail analysis of the posting Content on beBee. In August of 2016 I reviewed the most recent 100 posts on beBee and looked for patterns. Then I did "the Mirror" again in mid-September. We're due. I did this profile/inventory on October 12, 2016 (It takes a coupla days to digest the data and formulate insights).


My motivation for doing this inventory, assessment & review in the first place is both personal (I'm a producer and consumer) and professional (It's what I do for a living). 

My intuition and instinct are trusted tools, because they're grounded in decades of experience - and an appreciation of identifiable, replicable patterns. Ultimately, a content inventory like "the Mirror" is just a reality check on my own thumbnail insights & assumptions.

Caveat: The categories that I've identified are very high level: There are only 5 of them. So they may not explore a lot of detail - but they provide a reasonable basis for recognizing similarities, differences, and trends.

So let's get to round #3 of "the Mirror":

Scorecard: The 5 Content Categories : mid-October, 2016

These are the categories that seem to hit that sweet spot of being informative and valid - without being too complex.  Imperfect?  You bet.  But still useful:

42% Spanish Language

18% Motivational / How-to / Self-help 

20% Personal insight / Art / Philosophy

16% Promotion / Self-promotion

8% Technical / Analytical / Business-oriented

No blame. No judgement.  Just numbers. 
Oh ... and some opinions

I try simply report and not to pass judgement.  That said: I take responsibility for my groupings, their labels, and my analysis.  Below are some analytical comments and assessments on each category - in the context of what I experience as a beBee producer and consumer.

Spanish Language

I note this category pattern simply because it is both a large proportion of content and also a barrier - as any language can be. I can speak and read some Spanish myself, but also know that I struggle with idiomatic comments. Ultimately, the other-than-my-own-native-language content on beBee is not readily accessible to me. 

In true mirror fashion, the language barrier reflects on both populations (those who can go cross-lingual easily / those who can't). One thing we know about the butterfly-attention-span socialNet environment: If it involves much effort, then you probably won't bother.

  • For the time being, I assume that the Hispanic-language content follows similar category patterns to the English-language content. (It's probably worth a comparison & evaluation in its own right, but this is a volunteer effort - and I haven't the cycles).
  • We might want to explore usage and cross-pollination patterns among language cultures if/when beBee deals with the "seamless translation" issue.
  • This is the doorway to some 'really Big stuff'. Put a thumbtack in it.

The Mirror : Oct.12, 2016 : TrendsI don't claim to know the issue, but I can appreciate it. I've encountered related challenges at various points:

It's Complex.

Up Consistently and Impressively by +12 from the last Mirror. Up +24 from the first Mirror in August. This is beBee's primary audience growth path.

Hispanic population is 'what's happening' at beBee, as predicted in my article "Affinity defines Community" - and now confirmed by beBee's own marketing materials. Expect more of same. Dominoes will fall.

Motivational / How-to / Self-help

I remain skeptical about how to categorize this one. Some of it is 'marketing-oriented', so it often overlaps with Self-Promotion.  Other articles might be seen as "professional guides" for Business. Content may vary, but they all share a common hook:  "What's in it for me?" No, I don't say that dismissively. The motivation just is.

Steady: Up slightly (+2) from the previous Mirror.

These "how to succeed" types of articles are a mainstay of any publishing venue. They can range from shallow&glib to substantive& (dare I say?) 'educational'. Enlightened self-interest motivates us ... consistently.

Personal insight / Art / Philosophy

Experiential memory.  Personal insights and stories - overwhelmingly original or original-esque stuff.  I describe it as such because this content is very genuine. More so than other content categories, this is where beBee Aficionados really connect with each other with that easy sense of affinity.

Steady: Exactly the same percentage as in the last Mirror.

I have a feeling that much of the love that beBee-ites have for their socialNet is grounded in the deeply-felt connections that are forged by these types of articles and posts. This isthe heart of the "Affinity" that beBee trumpets.

Promotion / Self-Promotion

This is one of the "Top Three" content patterns, as it is in other social media.  Much of it is beBee Self-marketing (which is often combined with LinkedIn Bashing).

Down a little (-2) from the last Mirror, but steady.  The dip is to be expected, especially since beBee's management Selfie Squad is now back from their international "show me the money tour" in September.  Expect it to increase when they hit the road again.

Promotion comes with the territory. Some of the more defensive apologists argue that self-promotion is an underlying motivation for all communication. On the one hand: Can't argue with that generalization. On the other hand: I'm not an idiot. If you want to demonstrate 'value' to Marketing folks, you'd better have your promotion numbers on call.

Also in the Self-Promotion arena:  

beBee's dashboard feed is interspersed richly with modules that advertise "Hives that may interest you", "Companies that offer jobs...", "More from [this individual]", plus other promotional links to sponsors, beBee people & featured content.

There were 30 of these promotional blurbs and hooks interspersed throughout the 100 articles and posts identified in this Content Inventory. It's worth specifically noting these self-promotion blurbs, as they add - substantially - to the beBee-as-advertising profile.

Technical / Analytical / Business-oriented

This category represents the most enterprise-oriented and professional of the posts. Here's where beBee overlaps into the LinkedIn and Quora arenas - but definitely does not compete. 

Down a whole bunch by -12 from the last Mirror. That drop is a little scary, but not surprising. Let's face it, beBee content isn't really about Business. (You're thinking of LinkedIn.)

Despite all the noise, beBee isn't actually in competition with LinkedIn for Professional credibility or content. To quote Gertude Stein, "There is no 'there' there." Which is not to say that there's no competition. But it's driven by factors other than any claim that "beBee offers more or better Business-related content." Hint: The keyword is resentment. More on that, later, in "Priming the Pump".

the Trendline

Here's how the Mirror looks over the course of the past 3 months.

The Mirror : Oct.12, 2016 : Trends

Motivational, Personal, and Promotional categories are pretty consistent over time (Motivational is a little flakey, but I've always acknowledged that).

The big outliers are Spanish and Business.

Let's explore further...

the TakeAways

beBee has a large-and-growing international Hispanic-language following. This is clearly a major marketing advantage and strategy.  It remains to be seen whether beBee can - as the bizWonks say - "leverage" the potential. Clearly, seamless translation is essential to making cultural cross-pollination a market factor.  But, in any case, beBee brings big Hispanic Market numbers to the table for that all-important buy-out opportunity.

beBee is NOT a "professional socialNet". It may have more business-related articles than FaceBook, but - compared to LinkedIn - It's not even close.  Not in terms of content.  Not in terms of demeanor.  Let's put this self-serving marketing fib out of its misery.  Please.

beBee IS a delightful "casual, personal socialNet" experience, which is much beloved by its aficionados. (Maybe a little too beloved, but still ...) beBee actively encourages Personal insight / Art / Philosophy content... and it's a successful audience-builder. My sense is that these articles comprise a large proportion of the original content on beBee. In any case, I feel that these articles cement the strongest sense of affinity among beBee aficionados.

A significant proportion of beBee content is not original - It is shared from other services - especially in the Technical / Analytical / Business-oriented arena.  beBee - as a self-branded 'professional' socialNet - does not really host or produce much original content on professional topics. However ...

beBee is fairly "professional writer" friendly. (see "the Role of Writers", below) BTW: By professional writer, I mean someone who functions primarily as a producer of articles. Interestingly, a large proportion of those articles tend to be about how-to-succeed-as-a-writer-in-a-socialNet-environment. More to follow on that topic, later ...

Here's a thought about Content : the Role of Writers

This topic has emerged for me during the Mirror series, which focuses on Content (substance), more than on Big Shallow Numbers (performance). It's worth looking at "the role of writers" in this big, complex equation. I won't go into detail at this time (It's gonna be an article in its own right - coming soon), but I'll tip my hand:

  • The Assessment of Value in 'the Information Economy'
  • Writers as Producers
  • Writers as Advocates
  • Writers as (dangerous/annoying) Enemies
  • Writers-as-a-Profession
In the meantime, check out insightful analysis on this topic from @Phil Friedman in his article: Building Engagement on Social Media. There's plenty of navel-gazing among the writerly class - particularly on beBee; Phil offers some of the more cogent insights.

my Disclaimer (and Boilerplate Apologia)

Painful experience with beBee Aficionados obliges me to add this disclaimer to any article which appears to treat beBee with anything other than breathless wonder and admiration:

"Well, I've probably really stepped in it this time. People can usually tolerate numbers - even if they refuse to respond to them. Analysis is often reacted to as criticism. And criticism is usually perceived as being negative.

The numbers are the numbers. My observations are pretty much on the level of 'obvious', 'understandable', and 'common sense' - or at least how I've intended them.

If you feel the need to ask "Why do you hate beBee, John?" Please don't.

By way of context, you might check out my many snippily critical posts on LinkedIn (They go back for years).

I've been analyzing and advising - or complaining (if you must) - about social media for a while.  I've got some dirt-under-the-fingernails experience and skills, as well as a passion, to make socialnNets work - for everybody. A lot of it has to do with motivation. But that's a whole 'nother rant ..."

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Social Convergence

How it all fits together

Thank you very much @John Vaughan for the analysis.

+3 +3
Milos Djukic 15/10/2016 · #16

Thank you @John Vaughan, great analysis. Regards, Milos

Lori Mullins Johnson 14/10/2016 · #15

#14 John, I see your point in terms of "why ask me?", but I don't mind being asked, I guess I don't think of that as a click that effects my satisfaction. It's like getting water at a restaurant, I prefer to ask for it, because sometimes I don't want it, and why cause that kind of waste! Now it should auto translate the titles, that might be very helpful. So I don't personally see that click as an issue. I see it as a way to grow. I mean, what if one day that request is offered to allow Producers to translate their stories to another language. I mean I could write it here, translate it, post it, and then use it elsewhere, share it.
(now the fact I have to search for stats on my posts - that effects my satisfaction -- why can't that just be a the homepage drop down?) beBees? Anyone? :)

+1 +1
John Vaughan 14/10/2016 · #14

#13 "people may be using the language to target an audience" sez @Lori Mullins Johnson
JV> Interesting idea.

LMJ> "...option to translate articles on here"
JV> My well-duh framing question to beBee: "Since you already know that my preferred/default language is English - and you've already got a translation utility, then why don't you just automatically translate the article into 'my' language? If you have to ask "Why make me click?", then you have inferior UX/UI.

John "the fewest clicks to satisfaction" Vaughan

+1 +1
Lori Mullins Johnson 14/10/2016 · #13

#11 Thanks John for responding. I have noticed there is an option to translate articles on here, which I personally think is really unique and a nice tool to have if I do want to read an article written in Spanish, which I have used by the way, for an article on Chia oil! I have not seen that option on FB or LI, but I cannot say for sure it doesn't exist. My thought is that without really diving into the numbers and the personal intent of a producer, it is possible that some people may be using the language to target an audience, and thus beBee may provide that opportunity that other social media apps haven't.

+1 +1
John Vaughan 14/10/2016 · #12

#10 Additional Addendum to @Lori Mullins Johnson's observation:

JV> It probably behooves beBee - and any socialNet with global reach (isn't that "everybody"?) - to look into "the practical dynamics of international cross-pollination"

-1 -1
John Vaughan 14/10/2016 · #11

#10 Short answer to your question is "yes" @Lori Mullins Johnson
The rationale is:
"I note this category pattern simply because it is both a large proportion of content and also a barrier - as any language can be. I can speak and read some Spanish myself, but also know that I struggle with idiomatic comments. Ultimately, the other-than-my-own-native-language content on beBee is not readily accessible to me.

In true mirror fashion, the language barrier reflects on both populations ..."

Addendum: i.e. English-speaking people who aren't fluent in Spanish are unlikely to read the Spanish articles. Spanish-speaking people who aren't fluent in English are unlikely to read the English articles.

Longer answer:
"For the time being, I assume that the Hispanic-language content follows similar category patterns to the English-language content. (It's probably worth a comparison & evaluation in its own right, but this is a volunteer effort - and I haven't the cycles)."