Today when i was investigating some suspected internet fraudsters who contacted me, i ended up on Linkedin, i was quite surprised that i was unable to contact the involved people, without first upgrading my account – not that i would be likely to do that – but on an apparent reputable site like LinkedIn?
They state that this so called "InMail" – which is likely nothing more or less than a simple paid PM system – should be better than email "or a cold call", whatever that means.
Better than an email or a cold call InMail includes information about you and your professional background, giving your recipient the confidence to respond.
Something which i consider absolute basic functionality of any social website, is the ability to send and receive private mail to other members – you can simply not fool me into paying money for this functionality.
It does not really matter if it comes wrapped in a box called InMail, with promises of less spam and higher priority – it can't fool me!
Linkedin and InMail
It seems to me that the sole purpose of such features, is to force people into paying for a membership. I can not take such features seriously, unless i would receive the full amount someone paid for me to open their mail. I am sure Linkedin takes their cut, if not a 100% cut of the deal – this deal does not seam fair to me, and i do not think Linkedin deserves the position it now has. To many hopeful people waste their time on their site, without getting anything that they couldn't get from a simple About page on their website.
The lesson of this Article
Do not try to force your users into paying for something as simple as sending private messages. Its not nice. Its not how i would run my business. Your users are already paying for their internet connection, which includes the functionality of basic internet protocols. I personally couldn't care less about the "professional background" of someone contacting me – them having shown success in the past, does not prove to me that they will be able to do it again. Their reason for contacting me is usually always given in their e-mail – let me read their e-mail, and decide if i will just ignore it, or respond to it after that.