If you’ve ever wanted to find or get in touch with a specific person but couldn’t hunt them down via social media or one of the many channels now available, Directly.me could be what you’re looking for.
The service, which launched out of private beta today, allows people to sign up and pay to access other members contacts and knowledge tucked away in their brains. What this also means, of course, is that members can earn real money for contacts and knowledge that they already have too.
“There’s a thin line between spam and success when you are contacting people you don’t know, people have gatekeepers and spam filters,” Rocky Mirza, Co-Founder and CEO of Directly.me, said. “One of the best ways to meet someone is through a personal introduction. Directly.me helps get messages through by creating incentives for those making introductions and for the recipients of messages.”
The service hopes to turn people into “virtual bounty hunters” with its ‘Bounties’ section of the site, which pulls together all the requests for contact details from different people into one lump sum that can be claimed by only that person if they sign up or are already a member. Referring the person being sought out will also net you some cash, but it’s a much smaller sum.
The people seeking information can set whatever bounty they want and it’s up to the person being hunted down to decide if they want to provide it for that amount. You can see an example below, three people want to contact business magnate Warren Buffet, making the total bounty $13. If he signs up and reads those messages, he’ll get $13 (which I’m sure he’d be very thankful for). If I happen to know him and refer him, I’d get 26 cents, plus a similar amount if others wanted to contact him in the next 12 months.
Users are told to ‘protect your contacts’ (i.e. make sure you get paid when someone pays to contact them by referring them to the service) and you can set the amount that you would like to charge for people to contact you. You can also leave this option open to allow people to pay what they want, as long as it’s a dollar or more.
You can also set an expiry time on messages sent which means that if they aren’t read within the timeframe you set, then you get your money back. It also integrates with all your social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) so you can easily add (and ‘protect’) all of your contacts. There’s also a feedback and star rating system in place to encourage members to provide quality information and contacts.
Targeting the recruitment and professional markets, Directly.me hopes it will be used by recruiters to save time and money on finding new staff or even by individuals or businesses looking for a new supplier in certain areas.
A search engine for conversations?
Directly.me bills itself as “a search engine for conversations” but it could just as easily be used for nefarious purposes, which could result in a different tagline altogether. Perhaps the search engine for stalkers, providing they were willing to pay.
In some ways it’s already similar to services being tested out by the behemoths of social networking, such as Facebook, which earlier this year began trialing a system to charge people to send messages to others outside of their network, itself an extension of an earlier trial.
Overall, the idea isn’t a terrible one and the company is looking to grow its network of members rapidly by appealing to peoples’ desire to make some easy money, but it’s walking a fine line by providing a service akin to LinkedIn. Albeit with the ability to directly sell and buy information rather than charging a monthly (or annual) subscription fee.
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