Facebook just took the next step in its clever plan to make money from Messenger

Mark zuckerberg, facebook, sv100 2015Justin Sullivan/GettyMark Zuckerberg at the F8 conference for Facebook developers earlier this year.

Facebook announced Wednesday that it’s rolling out several new ways for businesses and people to communicate through private messages.

Instead of hacking out issues on public comment threads, Facebook users will now be able to message brands directly from ads, and businesses with Pages can now privately message Facebook users.

Companies that respond to 90% of private messages with a median response time of less than five minutes will now get a little “Very responsive to messages” badge on their Page.

To help businesses manage the influx of new conversations, Facebook is also introducing new tools, like the ability to save common responses.

“Messaging has become a preferred communication channel for people, and now people and businesses on Facebook can start real-time conversations with each other in more ways,” Facebook writes in its blog post on the news.

Facebook hinted at all these upcoming capabilities during its F8 developers conference this spring, so their announcement today is no real surprise.

However, the introduction of these features is a major step forward on Messenger’s path to making money, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained on the company’s Q2 earnings call.

Facebook won’t try to make money from Messenger until it becomes an organic, common way for people and businesses to communicate. Once more people and businesses are regularly using Messenger as a tool, then Facebook can find a natural way to squeeze some money from brands.

It’s the same strategy Facebook used for Promoted Posts: the News Feed became an important way for businesses to communicate with users, then Facebook gradually started letting them pay to get their messages in front of more people.

“The long-term bet is that by enabling people to have good organic interactions with businesses, that will end up being a massive multiplier on the value of the monetisation down the road, when we really work on that, and really focus on that in a bigger way,” Zuckerberg said on the company’s earnings call. “So we ask for some patience on this to do this correctly.”

Today’s news shows how that process is moving forward.

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