The Hook

How beBee is Hacking Its Growth with the Hook Model [Case Study]

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It all started early this year when I first got an email that invited me to join a platform called beBee. I didn’t know what it was about, one concept captured my attention, “personal branding.” At that time I had a pain-point. I was looking for ways to amplify the content I published on my personal and company’s blog and to connect with other professionals. FOMO kicked in, and that is why I gave it a try. As soon as I got into beBee, I discovered a few interesting details.

People there connect through hives, which are small communities within beBee. Each hive is a topical area, from marketing to start-up, sales and so forth. Based on the interest you have you connect with other like-minded people. beBee’s members are called bees and each time you write a piece of content you’re “producing honey.” Saving some details for later, I found this new social media compelling. But most of all I discovered that knowingly or not they are using the Hook Framework to increase their retention and grow their users‘ base. As of 2016, beBee had 11 million members. They’re planning to reach about 40 million users in 2018. Let’s dive into it and see how they’re using the Hook Model to grow their social network!

How to Build a Habit-Forming Product Ethically: The Drug Dealer Test!

The Hook

Source: Hooked, by Nir Eyal,

My note: I customised each quadrant to fit into the beBee’s story. 

The Hook Model in Action

For me, the external hook was an email invitation I got from a trusted connection I had on LinkedIn. Among its channels, beBee is using LinkedIn as a source to grow its user base. In short, beBee is using a strategy that in the growth hacking world is called OPN (other people’s network). In other words, when your user base is still relatively small you have to rely on other already established networks (like LinkedIn) to bring some initial traction to your product or service. Going back to the Hook Model that external trigger, made me join the platform.

Once I joined I started to browse around, I immediately noticed two new concepts, which jumped to my eyes: hives and buzzes. Hives are small communities around topics. Buzzes, instead, are pieces of content shared by the member of each hive. Therefore, as soon as I joined I picked a few hives I was interested in (start-ups, content marketing, and marketing). As soon as I got into those hives, I noticed a high level of engagement. People were commenting, suggesting and reading other people’s buzzes. That is why I thought it was time to take action.

The first thing I did was to start curating some hives I found interesting. When you start writing on beBee, you’re “producing honey.” So when I began to produce honey I decided to focus on 5-6 hives I found most compelling to me. That is how my content curation effort started.

When I published my first buzz I almost instantaneously got a thousand views, dozens of people finding it relevant and sharing it. That gave me a sense of social proof quite unexpected. Things didn’t stop there. A variable reward soon arrived when I received a badge on my profile with the VIP Status.

VIP beBee badge

I found out that beBee assigns the symbol to people producing honey regularly. In short, if you stop producing content you lose that badge. The community engagement, the curation effort, and the VIP badge made me go back and write some more.

That is how I started to invest a few hours throughout the week to become part of the community. It made me think about the IKEA effect, a cognitive bias that makes consumer of a product or service place a disproportionate value on products or services they partially created. Eventually, we attribute more values to things that we contributed to building. That is why I felt like the hives I curated were as important as my blog, in some respect. Therefore, as a community manager, I had to make sure to produce great content regularly. That is how I got hooked. Let me summarize the Hook features of beBee.

Summary and Conclusions

beBee is a new professional network that is leveraging on the Hook Model to grow its user base. With a mixture of growth hacking and Hook Model, beBee is allowing its users to become free referral sources through external triggers like Tweets, Likes or email invitations. When you join the professional network, you get drawn into the hives. Feeling the fear of missing out, you start curating your hives. When you get your first engagements and shares you start to take more action.

What makes the action escalate is a mixture of engagement and the formal recognition of a VIP badge you get on your profile. The hack is If you stop creating content you’ll lose your VIP badge. That is how you start investing more time into the platform to become a community member and get some more social proof. That makes the community grow at a faster pace because bees (beBee’s members) bring other bees to join the hives. In short, the Hook Model becomes a driver for both users‘ retention and growth. That is how you get hooked!

Suggested Reading:

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products 

Published by

Gennaro Cuofano

Gennaro Cuofano, International MBA. Creator of The Four-Week MBA Community and Content Marketer/Business Developer at WordLift