SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook has introduced a new feature that enables brands to communicate privately with users of the social network via its Messenger service.

Users will be able to send messages to businesses directly from News Feed ads and then businesses can respond in private, Facebook announced in a statement.

Previously, businesses could respond to users only in the same way they were initiated, either through a comment on a page or a private message.

Now, if a user leaves a comment on an organisation's Facebook page, it can then respond privately through Messenger.

In addition, ads shown on Facebook could include a call to action button that users can click to start a conversation with the brand advertiser via Messenger.

To make the experience valuable for both parties, Facebook said additional tools have been built so that users have the option of blocking private messages from companies.

While the initiative further integrates Messenger service into the social network's ad products, Facebook said it also could help businesses to improve their customer service and deal with customer requests more efficiently.

Furthermore, another feature for users thinking of communicating with a business will show how responsive they are to private messages.

Pages that respond to 90% of messages and have an average response time of less than five minutes will be assigned a "Very responsive to messages" badge on their Facebook page.

And to help page administrators respond to messages from Facebook users, another tool will help them to create and save responses to frequently asked questions.

Taken together, Facebook said these new features will help businesses to offer their customers a "convenient and personal way to connect".

"Messaging has become a preferred communication for people, and now people and businesses on Facebook can start real-time conversations with each other in more ways," it said.

Data sourced from Facebook; additional content by Warc staff