Here’s How Facebook Is Turning Its Local Ad Unit Into a Customer Service Channel

And ramping up messaging features

Facebook is letting users respond to local-awareness ads with private messages, turning the promos into customer-service tools. The feature, which evidently will not be available to national brands, includes a "Send Message" button that local marketers can affix to their ads.

The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company announced the development Wednesday in a blog post in which it also revealed that page administrators for Facebook marketers will be able to reply to public comments with private messages.

This feature should help social-media managers avoid the sometimes unpleasant back-and-forth banter that can go on between brands and consumers on Facebook pages. Airline and car-rental reps, for instance, will most certainly appreciate having the tool at their disposal to help put out customer-service fires.

Interestingly, pages that are highly responsive to customer messages will be marked as such, and there will be a ratings badge on the businesses' profiles. To help brands achieve high ratings, Facebook is also offering page administrators new tools for managing messages.

Facebook clearly wants to become more of a direct-response channel for all marketers. For instance, today's move comes on the heels of the social-media giant adding a call button to its ads

Here's what the new features look like: