Social business is all about getting connected within one's organization, as well as connecting with the right people. Facebook plans to launch a new feature that lets page owners not only post messages in public, but also reach out to other social network users in private.
A Word With You in Private, Please
Pages on Facebook have already supplanted company websites in certain respects, with the pages serving as a portal for announcing product updates, engaging with customers and providing a means for customer feedback. However, what's lacking at this point is a means to directly get in touch with other Facebook users in private. Facebook used to have a "send update" feature, which broadcast a message to users who "liked" a page. This feature has since been removed this September, though, perhaps due to potential spam issues.
Just recently, Simon Kemp from We Are Social shared the discovery of a new beta Facebook feature that lets businesses, organizations and groups interact with fans more directly: Private Messages for Pages. Instead of just allowing page administrators to simply post updates in public, page owners can now send direct messages to any Facebook user.
Facebook has confirmed that the feature is being rolled out to select pages in beta, although no word is given when the feature will be implemented network-wide.
We are currently testing a feature that allows people and Pages to communicate privately. We have no further details to share at this time."
This new private messaging feature is not like the old send update feature, in that page owners can directly communicate with any Facebook user regardless of whether one likes the page or not. However, at this point, private messages can only be initiated by users. A page owner can not directly message a user through the page, although an owner can respond to a public wall post through a private message. This means the tendency for spamming Facebook accounts using a page is lessened, as only those who have prior communication with the page owner can be contacted.
Although a minor feature update, the implications of private messaging for pages is significant. Businesses can discreetly respond to inquiries. Users can also get in touch with a business or organization with a page directly, without the need to post a public message. Private messages will not trigger a News Feed story, however, which is both good and bad. Users might find the discreet means of communication ideal, although brand owners will not get the extra visibility from a user's News Feed.
Still, it's a good thing that Facebook is starting to place emphasis on one-on-one communication rather than just public broadcast of messages. Facebook recently launched a standalone messenger app for mobile devices like the iPhone and Android smartphones. The upcoming private messaging for pages feature will likely work well with this mobile app.