Facebook is in the process of testing private, direct messaging between users and pages. Identified by wearesocial as "Private Messages for Pages," it looks like page admins will have the ability to switch the functionality on or off at any given time.
Apparently, clicking on the new message button on a page opens up a basic message box that allows users to directly message the page, complete with the photo/video/link attachment capabilities. According to those who have used the system, you don't even have to "like" the page to be able to communicate in this fashion.
It's important to note that this currently only works in one direction, for the most part. Users can only send private messages to Pages. If a Page wants to communicate with a specific users, they would require the message conversation be started by the user.
Or, the system also allows for Pages to privately respond to user's wall posts. In this private test, the private message button resides right next to the Like button on wall posts. For instance, let's say Coke posted the question on their page, "Why do you like Coke more than Pepsi?" If Johnny Smith responded to that post "Because nothing tastes as good as a Coke!" then the Coke page could then privately message Johnny with something like "Thanks for sticking with us!"
This is definitely an interesting development for brand pages, as this could change the whole dynamic when it comes to "fan" interactions on Facebook. The ability to talk privately with users could help in addressing complaints by giving the users a forum to express grievances outside the public eye.
Until now, users could only report problems directly on the page's wall for everyone to see. Or, they could privately message the specific page owner, but only if that page owner allowed it. "Private Messages for Pages" moves Facebook in the direction of Twitter when it comes to consumer interactions. Twitter (who in my opinion does this kind of thing better) already allows direct messages between everybody, and because every Twitter account is basically the same (no true distinction for brands), customers and fans can chat privately with companies at any time.
One drawback I can see involves publicity. As Inside Facebook points out, a private message will not create a news feed story - so other people won't be able to see it. If the message is something positive, a company might want it to appear public in order to generate "likes" as well as more discussion.
What do you think of this possible new feature? Will this lead to better communication between Pages and users on Facebook? Let us know in the comments.