Facebook just announced that it’s testing a new feature. One that allows you to message people you aren’t connected with for $1. These messages will just show up in your inbox, along with the rest of your emails. Facebook seems eager to monetize any and all features it can on their site but here’s my take: this kind of thing is really only going to lead to lots and lots of spam and most of it will go to people who already have enough to deal with, which is most of us. This feature, in my view, won’t help ingratiate Facebook to to people. But now here’s another catch. If you get a message like this and you don’t send it to spam, the sender can keep sending you messages however many times they want and they don’t have to pay anything additional. Meaning that if you aren’t paying attention, that $1 fee could lead to an open door and a constant stream of incoming messages.
Now, you might say “Well, for $1 an email that’s a lot and who will spend that?” Consider this. There are millions of ways to highly target prospects. Facebook does this all the time. I mean how many times have you surfed a site, let’s say eBags.com or whatever and then seen advertisements on your Facebook page, minutes later, for purses, luggage or whatever it was you were searching for at eBags? Advertisers love targeting, I mean who wouldn’t? What doesn’t work for me is this direct access to an inbox that, frankly, has already become another thing we have to check. I, for one, am not a fan of this. Now, LinkedIn does this. If you’re not familiar with this feature you basically pay a fee to send messages to people you aren’t connected with, but if they don’t open it you get the money back. Now you might think that this is even more lethal than Facebook’s new email program but it’s not and here’s why: Facebook is much bigger and many studies have shown that shoppers will often peruse potential new product on Facebook first, before going off to buy. Don’t get me wrong, I love LinkedIn and have made some great connections there but the model is vastly different from Facebook.
Look, I’m not famous (thank God) so I can’t imaging that I’ll be inundated with these types of emails. But, like most of us, I do shop online. Will online shoppers be a target? It’s hard to know. Will authors and business people looking to promote start using this to send emails to people they’ve been trying to reach for endorsements, reviews, etc.? And moreover, when does $1 become a small amount of money to pay for the possible and eventual outcome? You see, it’s all relative. In a world inundated with ads, this could be an advertiser’s dream and that’s what scares me.
Here’s a piece on this from Mashable.
Penny, thanks for drawing this to our attention! Facebook has such a captive audience now and they’re getting ever more creative with ways to earn money from them. I guess “free” was too good to last? 🙁
Well you can still do emails to folks you are connected with. But if you want to send a note to someone, let’s say Oprah, who you aren’t, you can do that now. That sort of worries me, you know? And if a big company wants to reach you to push their product, they can do that now.