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While celebrities are no strangers to VIP-only access, the launch of Mentions – Facebook’s new ‘celebrity-only’ app – represents a digital step beyond the velvet rope.

Offering musicians, athletes, politicians and high-profile influencers with direct access to the activity of their fan base, the app is clearly an attempt by Facebook to increase celebrity engagement – an area heavily dominated by Twitter.

In addition to encouraging VIPs to follow one another, Mentions allows celebrities to host real-time Q&A sessions on their iPhones to broadcast on their page. The app also notifies users about media coverage making the rounds and keeps them informed about what fans are saying about them on Facebook.

Several famous faces have already trialled the app, including singer Mariah Carey, teen heartthrob Austin Mahone, editor Arianna Huffington and British singer-songwriter, Ed Sheeran. However, with membership on the platform limited to a few thousand US-based influencers, it will be some time before Facebook will be able to rival Twitter’s hold on viral celebrity news.

Social media enthusiast, William Shatner – of Star Trek fame – recently posted a scathing review of Mentions on his Tumblr blog, where he compared the app’s functionality with that of Facebook’s existing user apps, which are available to anyone. In addition to being frustrated by having to follow other celebrities in order to use the new app, he writes:

“I’m not quite sure why Facebook released this app for “celebrities”. It seems to be ill conceived. I will probably use it to post to my Facebook when I’m on my phone but it doesn’t allow for mail or groups. I will continue to use my regular Facebook App as well as the Pages app.”

So what does this mean for celebrities who are looking for more effective ways to manage their personal brand and connect with fans online? Whether Mentions gives high-profile users more control over how they engage with followers than existing platforms still remains to be seen.

With other social media sites such as Twitter, and newcomer WhoSay, already established in the market and recognised for their ability to deliver the latest celebrity news, photos and information, it’s clear that Facebook will have to work harder to help users reach the stars.

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andrea 2

@Peppertweets, @ASmart110

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