12/23/2011 01:54 pm ET

Facebook, Google+ Launch New Business Page Features

Facebook has begun testing a new feature that enables businesses to exchange private messages with their customers through their Facebook page.

The feature, which has only been made available in Asia so far, allows customers and "fans" to click on a "Message" button on the page and send a direct, private inquiry to the business. The customer must initiate the messaging, which then opens the conversation channel to both sides.

The tool is meant to create more interaction and better customer service. Ideally, developers hope that the new function will help reduce off-topic comments on the pages and help turn customer complaints posted on the page into actual customer service initiatives.

A possible negative aspect to the private messaging, pointed out by The Next Web, could be that an increase in private exchanges could reduce natural growth and visibility of the page, since less people will be publicly posting, sharing or liking the page.

The launch comes shortly after Google executives announced improvements to their brand pages on Google+. In an interview with Bloomberg, vice president and product manager of Google+ Brad Horowitz announced the launch of Google+ Pages, in which "brands can take advantage of things like Circles, which allow them to segment their audience into gold, silver and bronze customers and communicate differently to those audiences." Horowitz also said that brand pages could use the Google+ Hangout feature to connect via free, multi-user video.

No word from Facebook if and when the business messaging feature will be launched elsewhere.