According to TheNextWeb, a new Facebook communication option appeared for Asia-based page admins. Apparently, this allows business pages to receive private messages from their fans. However, so far Facebook hasn’t announced the new feature, so I guess that the message option is being tested for a later roll out.
A message option between pages and fans is a significant feature that will allow businesses to interact more closely with customers on the service than ever before. However, the communication has to be initiated by the customers and then it is a two-way dialogue.
What does it mean for brands?
Avenue for Customer Service: Now, with this feature, it becomes easier to use Facebook as a customer service channel, like we wrote on our blog yesterday. I believe that brands can expect to receive a lot of feedback, especially where customers need assistance on a regular basis. It can also entail longer time and more resources by brands on Facebook.
But this can definitely not be seen as an opportunity by brands to promote themselves and market their products, because it is the customer who needs to take an initiative.
Reduced engagement due to EdgeRank: Well, private messaging feature might also negatively affect brand’s Facebook presence and the way fans interact with it. For instance, fans might now indulge in private messaging leading to relatively less comments and interactions on the brand’s page. Due to lesser engagement, brand’s updates would rank lower in the news feed because of the EdgeRank algorithm. So brace yourselves brands, you need to keep coming up with interesting content to secure the engagement levels and to be seen in the news feed.
Higher Risk of Crisis: On the negative side, there is also a possibility that brands might ignore some feedback and not respond to them as promptly as they would have, if the messages were out there on the wall visible to everyone. But then, ignoring certain comments might lead to higher risk of creating social media crisis!
All said and done, this feature is not available to Facebook users worldwide, yet. But we are definitely keeping an eye on this feature and whether Facebook will be announcing it. It could mean a big change for the way in which brands and consumers interact and communicate with each other through social media.