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Facebook Rooms Launches For Groups & Events

Facebook Video Niches Down With Live Video Chats

Following Facebook's recent mega video release, Facebook has announced an expansion of its new Zoom-like Messenger Rooms feature.

Messenger Rooms is Facebook's new video conferencing service.

With Messenger Rooms, users can create a Room within Messenger or Facebook, and invite anyone to join the video call, even if they don't have a Facebook account.

The service will eventually be interoperable across all Facebook apps and surfaces and works across both mobile and desktop. With the latter being a growing area of focus for Facebook, as daily desktop usage soars.

While Messenger Rooms has more than a passing nod to Zoom and Houseparty, both of which have boomed recently, Facebook has actually been building out its co-watching video features for some time.

In fact, Facebook was in talks to buy Houseparty in 2019 but ditched the deal due to worries related to its anti-trust legal issues.

Houseparty was eventually acquired by Epic Games, the game studio behind "Fortnite," in June last year.

Messenger Rooms Extended To Groups

At launch, Messenger Rooms did not have a marketing application, initially being unavailable to Pages. However, the latest update does make the feature more viable for marcomms purposes, since it has been extended to Groups and Events.

Members and admins can create a Room from the Groups composer. The group composer will show active Groups focused chats that people can join. There can be many chat Rooms per individual group. Rooms that already include 50 people will not be able to add any additional group members, including admins.

Admins can allow Messenger Rooms within their group or make Rooms "admin only" so only admins can create, but anyone can join.

To help admins keep their communities safe, admins will have the ability to delete any video chat Room. Phew. Anyone heard of Zoombombing

If a group has post approvals on, Admins will be the only ones who can create a Room, unless the admin changes the setting. For groups that don't have post approvals on, the default will be anyone in the group can create a Room.

Facebook Events, Live Video & Rooms

In addition, Facebook is now beginning to roll out the ability to mark a Facebook Event as an "Online Event." Thankfully.

The new Online Event functionality will also be integrated with the Rooms feature. Rooms will only be available for Private Online Events, and there is a limit of 50 people who can join the Room.

Events, like co-watching, were a Facebook priority already in 2019, so its likely there will be a few more bells and whistles in the pipeline as Facebook reorients its product roadmap.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, April 2020

"Livestreaming has become the primary venue for many events, whether that's the Pope's weekly mass on Facebook Live or DJs hosting dance parties on Instagram.

Every day more than 800 million daily actives are engaging with live streams, across workout classes, concerts and more.

We pivoted the Facebook events team to help people create online events including enabling people and small businesses to charge people who have joined their events in order to support small businesses that rely on in-person services before."

Social event monetisation could offer significant upside for all and is one of several new commercial features being rolled out by Facebook for businesses. 

So Long, Mass Social Media Reach

As already noted, while the minutiae of some of Facebook's latest video tools are clearly "inspired" by rivals, the underlying motives are all Facebook.

The future of social media is intimate, niche and more social as laid out by Mark Zuckerberg's 2019 privacy manifesto and reinforced more recently.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, April 2020, via The Verge

"Video presence isn't a new area for us. But it's an area that we want to go deeper in, and it fits the overall theme, which is that we're shifting more resources in the company to focus on private communication and private social platforms, rather than just the traditional broader ones.

So this is a good mix: we're building tools into Facebook and Instagram that are helping people find smaller groups of people to then go have more intimate connections with, and be able to have private sessions with."

Facebook has struggled somewhat with video on the platform since it began stripping video out of the News Feed back in early 2018.

However, the shift in user behaviours brought on by COVID-19 provides Facebook something of a blank canvas to reimagine video.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, April 2020

"Last week, we announced a number of new product improvements on video presence, which has emerged as an especially critical part of the private social platform during this time.

Our view is that video presence includes three categories. Video calling, Video Rooms and Live Video. And we plan to lead and offer the best services for social uses in each of those different categories."

Although, as attention within the Facebook ecosystem fragments across News Feed, Rooms, Messenger, Groups, Events and other platform features the question becomes, how do organisations and brands communicate organically at scale?

Unless marketers are prepared to implement a multitude of organic marketing tactics within Facebook (and Instagram) COVID-19 seems set to further accelerate the pay-to-play shift.

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