Behance: Creative talent discovery platform - Beguiling or bewitching?

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I'm Russell Glenister, founder and CEO of Curation Zone, who algorithmically analyse the world’s top freelance creative talent sources, digitally curating THE BEST OPTIONS into a frictionless, RANKED searchable index.

We are soft launching our SaaS platform, 9th July. In the meantime I will be posting 7 blogs before then and one on that date; each of the 7 will relate to a source platform we currently analyse - with more sources to be added to our roster soon.

Today the platform in focus is Behance.

Apologies to all you analysts that had hoped to tune into this blog on Vimeo (ticker:VMEO), unfortunately, I have had to delay it - now will you please get back to your screens...

In Jeff Lawson's insightful book, Ask Your Developer he matter of factly states,

"In industry after industry, digital native companies are using technology to bring a new kind of product to market, faster, cheaper, and with a better customer experience than the incumbents."

When Behance was launched 15 years ago, it would have been a "new kind of product" that ticked most, if not all of those boxes above, but after all those years of being out in the sun, wrinkles are starting to show.

There are new digital kids on the block, see Curation Zone

To be fair, platforms often serve a different purpose to the one they served before they were sold - Adobe bought Behance in 2012. Adobe is a software company that sells creative SaaS and stock content, so maybe the "discovery" part of the process isn't so important to them any more?

Except, when I spoke with Adobe about the platform a while back - I can't divulge the contents of that discussion, sadly - they made it quite clear that they know certain parts of the Behance platform might need a rethink, such as, discovery.

It is claimed that the platform has over 20m members, but when collecting data from the site we can only find around 3.4m members. This makes no sense, as a platform for "showcasing and discovering creative work" should surely make all it's members accessible?

From what we can see, Behance added 507,153 new members in 2018, from there, the numbers have plateaued somewhat, adding only151,076 new members last year.

The top 20 most active countries for members on Behance show just how global the membership is:

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The top cities for member activity are: London, San Paulo, Moscow, Bogota and Buenos Aires, which gives you an indication of the platform's diversity. New York comes only 8th on the list and City, 9th.

Much of the data on Behance, which is added by the members, is pretty shoddy - members either can't be bothered to add the correct data or the system does not encourage them to do so. Do members add "City"as their city because they don't live in one or because they can't remember which one they live in?

75% of what people watch on Netflix comes from recommendations, but Netflix are mostly in control of their own data, to a large degree Behance are not. It's the same with all creative sourcing platforms, to be fair to Adobe. This can, however, make it quite difficult to use Behance effectively as a creative talent discovery tool.

When analysing Behance data for inclusion into Curation Zone's searchable index we first remove those members that have fewer than 10 followers. That's around 2.43m members of the 3.4m we can see. That leaves us with 970,000 members to analyse (combined with the other 7 platforms we currently analyse there is no shortage of good choice).

There are around 190,000 members on Behance with 100 or more followers

Of the 190,000 members with more than 100 followers they have around 12m role credits and 4.7m projects between them.

To get to the best of the best, which is our objective (for each of four experience levels), we have to do a lot more work.

Without giving too much away this is another part of what else we do to clean up the data on Behance

We look at the current_roles field, we then look at all of the fields data on the member's posts, and compare them together, to see whether there is a similarity for the projects they have done with what they claim their role to be.

We found about 1/4 people shared almost no resemblance between their posts on Behance and their claimed role

Once we have done this, a few other processes beside, we are ready to recommended creative's from Behance on our platform - before you ask, we don't store any data, we just link back to it.

The top 10 roles on Behance are a slightly confusing mix, but certainly broad in scope:

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Interestingly, Graphic Designer plays such a significant role on Behance that it even appears in Spanish on the top 10 list; in 7th place, alongside it's English cousin in 1st place.

I say Graphic Designer, you (might) say Diseñador Gráfico, or not.

A quick digression. I was in a London restaurant recently. After ordering drinks, the Spanish waitress, as she was about to walk away, turned to us and said in the strongest Spanish accent, "Lovely Jubbly". For any of you not familiar with the term it's a very, very working class London "street" saying. Assimilation or what?

There's clearly an enormous amount of value on Behance for anyone looking for freelance or permanent creative talent globally, but it's not easy to get to the best; searching is cumbersome and the results often not what might be hoped for.

Having done extensive research into the results of Behance searches, compared with other similar platforms, what we can say is that we have had to put in significant time and effort to get to what we'd want to, compared with elsewhere.

This is often because of the way members try to "game" the platform. I am not sure Adobe encourage this, many platforms do, but from what we see on Behance we don't think that is the case, but they don't appear to be doing anything to prevent it either - not to say they should.

People are always trying to better their position in any marketplace, especially ones where there is a prize - in this case, being recognised by your peers, commissioned or employed - unfortunately very few of Behance members seem to understand how to do that effectively.

With a bit of data cleaning and focus on what's important, the best rise to the top - well they do when Behance creative's are showcased on Curation Zone

There is a better way and it's certainly digitally native.

About Curation Zone:

Curation Zone algorithmically analyse the world’s top freelance creative talent sources, digitally curating THE BEST OPTIONS into a frictionless, RANKED searchable index.

About me:

I spent 18 years commissioning creatives, I know how hard it was. I even invested in a leading crowdsourcing platform. All that taught me was; it's not the solution, so I resigned from the board and built Curation Zone.

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