Monster launched a Facebook app over the weekend that will let the 700 million users of the popular social community build a professional network separate and apart from the one their friends get to see.
BeKnown, as it is called, borrows much from LinkedIn and BranchOut, but goes further than the latter and offers more versatility and flair than the former. It’s not a frontal attack on LinkedIn’s growing recruitment business, but a flanking maneuver, focusing on younger workers just beginning to build their business contacts.
While Monster is aiming at the 600 million-plus users worldwide who aren’t LinkedIn members, those who are can import their contacts from there as they build an independent network on BeKnown. The app also makes it possible to invite contacts from other sources, including Gmail, Yahoo, Twitter and, of course, Facebook.
Installing the app gives users a second Facebook profile, that can be imported from LinkedIn or Monster if they are registered there. Pictures and other, existing Facebook content can be managed to create a distinctly differently persona from the one social friends get to see. Otherwise, the visual appearance mimics the typical Facebook presence.
Borrowing liberally from other Internet social sites, Monster has added enough bells and whistles to appeal to younger users accustomed to interacting more intimately and frequently.
For instance, like LinkedIn, you can have your contacts endorse you. As they do, and as you achieve certain milestones — number of connections, length of time with an employer, for example — you get badges, like on Foursquare. And, similar to Jobvite and Jobmagic, friends can recommend jobs, which will show up on your site. (Jobs from Monster.com are also tucked onto the jobs tab.)
Besides those general LinkedIn-style endorsements, BeKnown enables skills-specific acknowledgments.
Recruiters, who, obviously, can create their own BeKnown profiles, can also claim company pages where, once they’ve built a network, can post jobs for free.
What’s not evident in this initial, beta release, is a method of conducting the kinds of professional conversations that active LinkedIn members use to enhance their brand, gain notice, or for help with business issues.
Josh Bersin, who got an advance look at BeKnown, says it “has the potential to become one of the major social recruiting networks in the marketplace.”
In a very extensive blog post, Bersin details the specific features of this initial release, and notes some of the features expected in the future, in particular a bounty program to pay users who offer up qualified candidates.
He says the new service is likely to appeal mostly to young career-oriented users, with more limited experience than those found on LinkedIn.
That’s an observation Altimeter Group’s Charlene Li shares. “If I’m looking for an entry-level researcher or intern I won’t find them on LinkedIn,” the Financial Times quotes her as saying. “When you’re coming out of college, you don’t have a professional network, you have Facebook.”
Can Monster make a success of BeKnown?
Bersin says the company is planning an extensive promotional campaign, presumably a global one, since the app is available in 19 languages and some 35 countries.
The company is so sure it has developed a weapon in the recruiting war with LinkedIn and other social networks — including, curiously, Facebook itself — that the company demanded a signed non-disclosure agreement before journalists, bloggers, and others could preview the site last week. (ERE was invited to preview BeKnown, but declined to sign the NDA.)
Li, who previewed BeKnown, said Monster has “a long row to hoe,” adding “I also find it very, very interesting.”