Could brands find a space in Facebook’s Rooms?

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Recently, Facebook unveiled its latest mobile app (for iOS) — Rooms. It’s the rumored “anonymous,” app, where users can have their own name or whatever screen name they choose.

But is there any space in Facebook’s Rooms for a branded experience? Could Nike launch a room dedicated to running — and should they? We talked with Lawrence Mak, the Senior Product Marketing Manager for Facebook Marketing Partner Adobe Social, about the marketing implications of Facebook’s newest app.

Adobe studied the social sentiment around the then-unnamed anonymous Facebook app, showing that people were largely neutral, but more people had a negative reaction (25 percent) to the app before launch than positive (8 percent). Measuring sentiment post-launch, an overwhelming amount of reaction has been neutral (92 percent).

As many people figure out the best way to use Rooms, others are wondering if there’s room for companies and brands in this new app.

Mak said that Rooms represents a departure from social media trends today, where there are large networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and micro-sharing and messaging experiences (Snapchat, WhatsApp, etc.).

Mak believes that Rooms, if it catches on, could offer a glimpse into the way that people want to share and engage:

I believe that social media is a reflection of how society wants to communicate today. … I also think that within society, as well as business, it’s really cyclical. Thanks to technology, we’ve grown really quickly from a society that communicates one-to-one or one-to-few to a society where the older generation thinks there’s rampant oversharing, there’s an abuse in privacy, there’s a lack of good judgment when it comes to sharing your life and that data should be personal. I think Facebook became a place where we share all of our major and insignificant events.

It’s almost a case of oversharing and we’re starting to see a bit of backlash there. We’ve seen Ello come out with the anti-Facebook movement. We’ve seen Snapchat come out with messages that can be shared with almost anyone, but disappear. I think we’re going back, as a society, to being interested in sharing with smaller groups and relevant conversation, where not everything has to be a conversation around a major event.

Mak added that younger users are gravitating toward those types of experiences, largely because their parents aren’t on them.

But can Rooms be used for marketing, or should it be left as purely a communication channel? Brands want full control of their experiences and to generate valid leads, something that would be an awkward fit for Rooms with the anonymous factor. But Mak believes that Rooms could be an effective way to drive top-of-funnel conversation around a passion or interest that a brand specializes in:

I think with Rooms, there’s an opportunity there for brands. It remains to be seen whether or not that brands experimenting with Rooms will actually take hold and whether the user community on Rooms will actually accept brands creating their own branded forums. But I think that it could become an upper-funnel awareness channel to drive chatter around your brand or a product. There’s a real opportunity here, I think, to curate a community around a specific topic, or theme or idea, or even a specific product category, and then be able to communicate with people who are interested in that topic and either do a special reveal or have it be a gateway to exclusive content.

Readers: What do you think of Rooms so far?