Everyone’s been talking about the new Facebook Messenger Rooms … but what do they mean for you and your business?
Maybe you have noticed a new feature on Facebook under your status updates: Rooms. This new Facebook feature is set to compete against Zoom and other video-conferencing tools. But is it any good? Will it work for you?
Facebook Rooms allow up to 50 people to meet simultaneously with no time limit on the meeting.
But can you use them for business? How do you know they are secure? This step-by-step guide will help you master this new tool in no time.
Who Can Use Rooms?
Currently, Facebook Rooms are available on personal profiles, in groups, and in events. It is not available on Pages directly.
However, you can still promote your Room on your business page using the steps for linking a Facebook Room to an event. (See details below.) This new feature is also already included with Facebook Workplace, its platform for businesses to use internally.
Another important difference between Facebook Rooms and other Facebook tools (such as Messenger) is that you can send a link to anyone to use—even someone that doesn’t have a Facebook account.
Some people may need video-conferencing for the first time but still not want to create a Facebook presence, and this feature capitalizes on that. Like Zoom and similar platforms, you simply share the link to your room with anyone and that person can join in (assuming they have a video camera and mic on their computer or phone).
You do need to have a Facebook account to create a Room, though.
The most obvious uses for Facebook Rooms are for personal things.
For example, now you can:
- Host an online graduation open house (and even invite relatives without Facebook).
- Have a virtual get-together with family or friends.
- Schedule quick impromptu meetings.
- Have a video chat with multiple people that are online. (Facebook will even show you who is active.)
If your personal brand and business brand are intertwined on Facebook, it might make a lot of sense to start using this new tool.
Additionally, it is a powerful way for Facebook Groups admins to connect with their group. But it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. There are definite differences between Facebook Rooms, Google Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom. Of course, there are many more video-conferencing tools available as well.
With so many similarities, which one is right for you? Consider the following questions:
- Where is this call on the scale of professional to personal?
- What tools am I already using that will integrate easily?
- Do I need to record the call?
- Which of these is easiest for my intended audience?
- How many people need to be on the call?
- What level of security do I need?
- Do I need analytics or other professional features?
- What is my budget for this tool?
Personal Facebook Rooms
You can create your room directly below status updates. You will see an option to create a blank room, create a room and invite friends currently online, or start a room in a group.
To start a personal room, click “Create.”
Your first option is to customize your room activity. This will give people an idea of what your room is about. You can select from a list of symbols and titles, or create your own.
Once you have chosen your Room topic, next you need to invite friends. Facebook will prompt you to select from your friends list. (Don’t worry, you can always add additional people later.)
Last, you can schedule your Room to open at a certain time or start immediately. You can also set an end time if you want to. You and others will still be able to open and join your Room even if it hasn’t started yet, and your room will continue to stay open after the “end” time unless you end the Room.
(However, when I was testing it did seem to be more buggy after the scheduled time ended. That could be a coincidence, but it is worth paying attention to.)
Now that your Room is set up, you can join the room and get started. This part is the same regardless of whether you are using Facebook Rooms on your personal page, in a Group, or for an event.
Currently, you only have the option of joining as your own personal profile. The fact that Facebook added this as a step means it may be planning further expansion in the future that will allow you to choose to join as a Page or a Group admin.
Starting a Room for your Facebook Group is almost the same as starting one for your personal page with a couple of differences. You can start a Room for a group and for your personal page at the same time, but you will only be able to be present in one room at a time per personal Facebook account.
It is also important to know, that no one will be able to join your room unless the person who created it is present.
The first step is still to choose an emoji. In Groups, all groups are custom-named. You will want to choose a name that is inviting to your group and encourages them to join. You only have 20 characters to do so, though!
Unlike your personal page, you can’t customize who is invited to a Group Room initially. By default, every member of the Group is invited. Only 50 people can join at a maximum—but you can lock the room sooner if you want to keep it to a smaller group.
Your Room and the link to it will stay in your group until you manually end the Room. Once you do this, the Room will be closed and the post about it will be deleted from the Group’s Timeline.
Event Facebook Rooms
Because you can schedule the time for Facebook Room, you can use it to host an event online. This is the workaround to use a Facebook room and promote it from your Page as well. That being said, the host of the Room will still be the personal page of whoever creates the event.
When you create an event in a Facebook Business Page, you will also only be able to post it as a public event, so be sure that you want this link shared.
Whether you are creating a personal or a Page event, you can link it to your Room by adding the link to your already created Room in the “Ticket Link” option.
Because you can only create one Personal room at a time, you won’t be able to create any additional Rooms from the time you create the event until it happens. Clearly this is not the most seamless part of using Rooms at this point! It is a good way to invite people on Facebook, and for personal events, you can let them know when to expect the post with the link.
Managing Your Room
Whether you are doing a small meeting of a couple of people or a large one, take some time to familiarize yourself with the settings for managing your room.
Settings include …
- Removing people from the Room
- Inviting new people and sharing the link
- Toggle view between speaker focus and grid layout
- Sharing your screen
- Your camera and mic controls
You can’t start a Room without inviting at least one person, so find a friend to help you try it out before you make a more publicly available room.
Like any other video conferencing service, the quality of the call is only as good as its parts. Quality Internet access, using a headset, lighting in your physical space, quality of your video camera, etc. will all affect the quality of the overall call. The more people you have in the Room the more likely it is that you will have technical difficulties.
Also, know that when you leave a Room, it is still active. Anyone who is still in the Room will still be there (though new people can’t join without the host).
The only way to end the room is to officially end it under settings in the Room or from your Timeline.
Security and Privacy Details
Facebook is careful to let people know that it does not provide end-to-end encryption for Rooms.
Because the link can be shared outside of Facebook, if you join a Room that someone else started anyone may be able to join, including people that you have personally blocked on Facebook.
As a Room host, you can remove people from the Room at any time and can share the Room only with the people you want to invite.
There is no alert notification when someone joins a Room. So, if you happen to be looking at another screen, it is possible for someone new to join the Room without you realizing it.
There are no chat or record features built into Facebook Rooms at this point. However, it is possible for others to use a separate screen capture service to still record the Room from their device.
As with anything on social media, be aware of what you post and say, and be careful to protect others when you are hosting.
* * *
Want more helpful, actionable content like this? Subscribe to the Agorapulse newsletter, and get the most recent blog posts and news about the social media channels you use most.