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Facebook adds new ways for users to exchange private messages with businesses

Facebook Messenger Platform Everlane appFacebook Messenger Platform Everlane app

Facebook really wants to encourage small and medium businesses to invest their time and energy on the social network, so on Wednesday, it rolled out new ways for them to connect with users and potential customers.

Now, ads from local businesses can have a “send message” button that lets users directly send a private message to the business. They’ll also be able to send a private message to users who post a comment on their Facebook page. They previously could only do so if the user reached out via a private message first.

But of course, this wouldn’t be the Facebook that we know if all this activity’s data didn’t yield a badge or classification. So in an effort to encourage users to communicate with businesses via private messages, Facebook will show a “very responsive” badge on the pages of those who respond to at least 90% of the messages within five minutes, though all will be able to see their responsiveness level in their page admin controls.

And to help these businesses manage this potential deluge of communication with users, Facebook is giving them new features such as pre-saved (canned) responses, and easily apply bulk actions to groups of messages in a few taps.

We’ve seen this playbook before — Yelp and Google have introduced similar features to help small businesses interact with customers. So we’ll have to see how it pans out for Facebook, which has been putting a lot of resources lately into its relationship with businesses, including opening up its messaging app to brands and businesses a few months ago.