Will Facebook's Paid Messaging Service Be the End of Networking with LinkedIn?

Deborah Sweeney

Posted on January 17th 2013

Will Facebook's Paid Messaging Service Be the End of Networking with LinkedIn?

While eyes turn once again to Facebook and its recent unveiling of a new ‘Graph Search Function,’ there is another story brewing in one of their other, newly revealed features – paid messaging. Essentially, you pay Facebook a dollar and, in return, they allow you to send a message directly to the inbox of someone outside of your network of friends. If you use LinkedIn with any regularity, this pricing model might sound very familiar – I know I immediately thought of their service InMail.

InMail essentially lets you send a message to anyone that uses LinkedIn. However, it requires that you have a Premium account - at its cheapest an upgrade will cost $7.95/month. LinkedIn also limits the amount of messages you can send a month for “free,” depending on the plan you sign up for. However, LinkedIn also guarantees a response and credits your account if you do not receive one.

puzzlesmallWill this new messaging feature allow Facebook to challenge LinkedIn’s domination in the field of professional networking? The separation of networks is certainly understandable – the last thing you want your future boss to see is a photo album of your recent booze-filled trip to Cancun. Users are increasingly cleaning up their profiles and turning them into a virtual résumé out of a fear, or perhaps hope, that interested employers will stumble upon the little virtual imprint of themselves and like what they see. Facebook is also “stickier” than LinkedIn, with users spending an average of six hours a month on the site in comparison to seventeen minutes on LinkedIn.

We like “all-you-can-eat” buffet-style social media sites, and Facebook offers a lot of features in a fairly intuitive package. An HR executive can run a quick search for a prospective new hire while waiting for their mom to play a word in Scrabble, versus having to click over to LinkedIn, sign in, and look for what is essentially a digital résumé, likely identical to the one the candidate handed in already. People may not like the fact that Facebook is slowly turning into a tool for professional networking, but it is and there is little that can be done to stop it.

This new one-dollar messaging feature will only aid Facebook’s encroachment into LinkedIn’s territory. Rather than having to pay eight dollars a month to message a set amount of people outside of your network, all you have to do is pay a dollar and the man or woman looking to fill a position in your dream job will have a message sitting in their inbox, and a notification alerting them to this fact above their Facebook feed. Though Facebook does not offer the same guarantees that LinkedIn does, users will reportedly be able to continue to send messages for free, provided the recipient doesn’t label the sender as a spammer. The messaging feature is cheaper, has a one-time-cost per recipient and, thanks to the fact that so many people spend a lot of time on Facebook; chances are good that the recipient will see the message.

This feature is still in beta, and Facebook may decide to charge more than a dollar, or to allow users to set how much they want to charge to allow a stranger to send them a message later on. If either of those things happens then we are all analyzing and pontificating for nothing – Facebook will continue to slowly envelop LinkedIn’s market but there will still be a good reason to pay for a premium account on LinkedIn, especially if you are looking for a job.

But if the price remains a dollar? Being able to have a direct conversation with the person directly in charge of hiring for a position you want is extremely tantalizing. And, if you are going to use the Facebook messaging feature for that, you will want to clean up your profile – maybe remove those John Mayer lyrics from your quotations section. As time goes on and people understand how useful of a feature paid messaging can be, Facebook may pass LinkedIn as the go-to professional networking site.

I doubt that will mean the end for LinkedIn, but it will certainly hurt their bottom line.

Deborah Sweeney

Deborah Sweeney

CEO, MyCorporation

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation. MyCorporation provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCorporation and Deborah at @deborahsweeney and on .

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Comments

Hi Deborah, these are my opinion.

1) Facebook is a totally different platform compared to LinkedIn, even Facebook wants to be another professional networking site. I will not pay and send any message on Facebook to people that out of my network because I think Facebook is not for professional networking, it is for personal friendship.

2) Based on this "Facebook is also “stickier” than LinkedIn, with users spending an average of six hours a month on the site in comparison to seventeen minutes on LinkedIn." My comment is, it is not quantity but quality. People average spend 6 hours a month on Facebook doesn't mean they get something valueable on Facebook and 17 minutes on LinkedIn is enough to build a professional network. It depends on how to use it, not how much time to use it.

I don't know about others, but as you study the problems of social media, freedom abused, attack here and there (Jennifer Livingston is a good case study). People have bad judging skill to judge, to Like, to share and to spread what is right, what is wrong and what is the truth. Social media has become a place to have war to attack each other, especially on Facebook. Will they easily allow people to access them? I don't think so.

Anyway, that's just my opnion. :)

Hey Kent!

Glad you took the time to read my article. And I agree - the two platforms are VASTLY different. However, though some will undoubtedly continue to use Facebook only as a means to network with their friends, more and more people seem to be connecting with professional contacts as well. The article I linked to at PandoDaily was written by Reachable CEO Al Campa, and he explored how Facebook is being used for professional networking. The key statistic he references, though, is that "65 percent of Reachable users upload Facebook friends as professional contacts, a 35 percent increase over that period." Now that number still isn't as high as the percent of users who upload LinkedIn contacts, and I'm sure there is some overlap, but that 35 percent bump is significant.

And while seventeen minutes is enough time to build a professional network on LinkedIn, social media users seem to like it when their social networking sites can be used for multiple things. LinkedIn is trying to take advantage of this with their site's update - by devoting more page space to the feed, they are giving users the chance to follow news, read articles, and get status updates in addition to networking with their professional contacts.

Facebook offers a lot more than LinkedIn, and while FarmVille isn't exactly useful, it is a draw. More people use Facebook, and they use it more often. That makes it much more useful than something like LinkedIn, which may only be checked once in a blue moon, especially when you are trying to get in contact with someone.

Now, as for the matter of 'will people allow other Facebook users to contact them so easily,' I have absolutely no idea. You make an excellent point, and one that I did not think about - Facebook can be a bit of a war ground, and the last thing you want is for someone who you have been having an argument with to have another way to contact you. Now is it worth paying a dollar just to be able to harass somebody? Maybe - I certainly wouldn't pay money to bother someone, but I am sure there are people out there who would.

In the end, of course, all of this is speculation - we will just have to wait and see what happens when this feature makes its way out of Beta.

Thanks again for reading Kent, I always enjoy your comments,
~Deb