I was delighted to see an article by Christine Stevens which compares how her posted articles, which were parallel-published in both beBee and LinkedIn, performed side-by-side. I was delighted because I was preparing to do the exact same thing – as part of my ongoing “Mirror” series, which I started with a Content Inventory of what appears on beBee.

“Prove it. That is something I insist on when anyone asserts an argument that they are right or that something is the next best thing to sliced bread.”

— Christine Stevens (beBee contributor)

I’m with you, Christine.

Here’s my own side-by-side comparison of articles I published on beBee and LinkedIn

bebee-vs-linkedin-comments

The pattern of my numbers look pretty much the same as Christine’s. That’s pretty impressive, especially since our writing topic areas are fairly different. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that her material is more marketing-oriented and generally accessible. My stuff is a bit nerdier and more tech-oriented.

Here are the Bottom-Line Observations:

beBee clearly dominates in terms of Overall Number# of Views. For Christine, the ratio is 3-to-1. For me, the ratio is almost 7-to-1. Wow. Go beBee!

Yet, even with far fewer Views, my Linked articles consistently get more Likes. (and so do Christine’s)

My LinkedIn Like/per/View ratio is about 1:8 (1:10 for Christine).

My beBee Like/per/View ratio is less than 1:100 (barely 1:250 for Christine)

How can this be? We’ve both gotten all those Views on beBee. Why don’t we get a whole bunch of Likes there, too?

Bear with me here. I want to explore a couple of ideas…

Framing Question: “What’s a View?”

No, I’m not just word-smithing.

  • It’s a question that’s worth asking.
  • It is particularly germane to this analysis.
  • It’s an issue that continues to bedevil UX analysts.

Scenario:

There’s a title or a picture on the screen that catches your eye. You visit the page. You scan it to see if it’s of interest. It isn’t. You leave. Usually within 10 seconds.

That’s the norm for activity on the web. We (UX professionals) know it. We’ve measured it. A lot. It’s not a mystery, though it continues to be a challenge. In fact, it’s THE Challenge.

People just don’t stay a very long on a page – on average only about 10 seconds. Clearly, you can’t read an article in that time.

And, if anything, it’s become even more that way with the emergence of twittery content, flat&facile design, and mobile scan&swipe behavior.

The socialNet breeds social butterflies.

You’ll get lots, and lots … and lots of meaningless hits before that special-and-rare someone settles in to actually read your article.

Birds, Bees … and Butterflies

Consider:

beBee regularly reports 10x the views as the same article on LinkedIn. That’s the first head-scratcher (Is beBee really that good? Is LinkedIn really that shitty?). Then you notice that LinkedIn has far more Likes, Shares, and Comments than beBee. Now you’re starting to get suspicious. And with good reason.

Insight #1:  Both LinkedIn and beBee use the label “Views”. But the term obviously doesn’t mean the same thing. They’re using totally different algorithms to measure viewership. That’s why you get the big (perplexing and counter-intuitive) difference in numbers.

My guess:

beBee counts a momentary 10-second visit to your article as a View. Result: Huge numbers.

Aside: This is a popular technique among marketing types. “Wow! Just look at those Big Shallow Numbers! .… Now give me some money.”

LinkedIn takes a more measured approach. You have to stick around on the page for a while before LinkedIn calls your visit a View, but that means it’s far likelier that you actually read the article. Lower numbers / Higher credibility. That’s why you get more Likes, more Views, and more Shares on LinkedIn. They not only visit the page – they actually read your article.

Framing Question: “What’s a Comment?”

This may seem like a silly question, but it’s actually not.

It turns out that LinkedIn also under-reports the number of Comments on an Article. They count only ‘top level’ (i.e. original) comments. When someone replies to a comment … they don’t count it as a Comment. So I counted up all of the individual comments + replies on my LinkedIn articles, as beBee would. It brought the average number of comments on my LinkedIn articles up from 4.5 to 9. The adjusted totals appear in parentheses in the table.

This actually opens up another interesting line of thought. When someone makes a comment, it indicates that your article has made a connection. When a comment turns into a series of replies … you’ve generated real engagement.

There’s a value proposition in there somewhere. Perhaps we’ll explore it further in another article…

 

“It’s not the size of your database. It’s the quality of your connections.”

John Vaughan (circa 1981)

Apples and Oranges Analysis

Clearly, LinkedIn and beBee count Views differently. It’s obvious that they also count Comments differently. And that difference results in … different results.

When someone compares numbers on LinkedIn to numbers on beBee: Its’s Not Necessarily a Level Playing Field

Maybe we should try Speaking the Same Language

So, let’s review our numbers – and remember that the pattern of the proportions holds true for both Christine and me.

  • I believe that beBee’s impressive viewCount indicates how many people have clicked on the page where my article resides.
  • I believe that beBee’s impressive viewCount does not accurately reflect the number of people who’ve actually read my article.
  • I believe that LinkedIn’s less-than-impressive viewCount accurately reflects the number of people who’ve actually read my article.

the TakeAway

If you’re looking for a large number of raw clickTotals for your article, beBee is probably where you want to be. You’ll get quite a few scan&swipe momentary hits. If you insist on calling those “views” – by all means, Be my guest. But I don’t recommend it as a business plan.

If you’d prefer to have someone actually read your article and like it, share it, or comment on it, then you may want to make a point of publishing on LinkedIn, as well, because that’s where those things happen, too.

Disclaimer

I offer these observations without partisan agenda: I critique (or criticize, if you insist) both LinkedIn and beBee vigorously.

This is just what the numbers say … at least, to me.

In the meantime, I’ll copy&paste the disclaimer below. It comes from a previous article that I wrote on beBee. It seems relevant, especially under the circumstances.

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 another rant …

In the time during which this was posted on beBee (October 2016 – January 2017) it earned 3,300 Views and 42 Likes

(c) copyright John Vaughan / The Communication Studio

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