The world's largest social network has begun rolling out functionality that allows Page owners and individual Facebook users to exchange private messages.

Unlike on Twitter, where either party can initiate a direct message, Facebook is requiring that the individual initiate the conversation for now at least.

For brands, social media was supposed to open the door to one-to-one engagement with customers, but in practice, it has for many become primarily a one-to-many marketing platform.

The reason is simple: when you have a few hundred thousand followers on Twitter or a few million fans on Facebook, it's far easier to market to consumers than it is to communicate with them. Facebook may be looking to change that slightly, however.

As TheNextWeb notes, this new functionality opens the door to "a greater level of customer service on Facebook". While social media is often more of a marketing platform than a tool for one-on-one communication, more than a few brands are using social media as a customer service channel (or quasi-customer service channel). Now those brands will have an opportunity to do more on Facebook.

Of course, brands interested in using Facebook as a customer service delivery platform will need to consider whether it makes sense. Providing customer service well through services like Twitter and Facebook isn't always easy - and there is certainly risk for brands that try to use tools that aren't designed specifically for customer service.

That said, Facebook's move to facilitate more direct interaction between brands and users is a good one and brands with significant Facebook followings will probably want to explore and make decisions about this new functionality sooner than later.

Patricio Robles

Published 20 December, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2647 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (3)


Nick Stamoulis

There are pros and cons to this. While it may improve engagement rates because some people don't want to share publicly, it may also limit the activity on a Facebook wall, which is what keeps a Page attractive and interesting.

over 6 years ago

Joel Chudleigh

Joel Chudleigh, Director at Deep Foot Prints Online Marketing Ltd

This is spectacular news. For many businesses that offer services that people do not want to discuss publicly this makes a huge difference. Just to be clear I am not talking about brothels and drug dealers here, but health related businesses ;-)

Nick - I do not think that it will affect activity on the wall as people love to share things publicly too. Many people like to have public discussions as we are social creatures who are keen to involve others in what we are talking about; 2 people parties are not much fun, but when it comes to counseling we do not want our mates watching.

I just see it as a positive addition. Nice one FB.

over 6 years ago


Debbie Ruston

This is fantastic news...haven't heard of this until now...thanks so much Patricio! Have you heard when this will be available for pages?

over 6 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.