Facebook has long served as a platform for public figures from rock stars to politicians to connect directly with fans and supporters. Six of the current list of top 10 “brands” on the social network include celebrities like Shakira, Christiano Ronaldo and Vin Diesel.
With the rollout of Facebook Mentions, a new iOS app, the company is giving actors, athletes, musicians and other “influencers a new way to interact with fans and others on the go. It's the latest mobile offering from Facebook’s Creatives Lab unit following the release of its Paper and Slingshot apps.
If not geared toward the masses, the new app could help position Facebook appeal more to celebrities as a real-time alternative to Twitter for communicating with followers.
The Mentions app closely resembles the regular Facebook app, except the news feed is divided into Following and Trending sections to help high-profile users join popular conversations and see the latest posts from others they follow. The app also features a “Post” button in the navigation that lets post updates, sharing photos or videos, or host a live Q&A.
Hitting a new “Mentions” button in the nav bar lets celebrities see the mentions from other influencers or in the media, as well as providing notifications on posts. For now, Facebook says the app is available only for people with verified pages in the U.S. It plans to roll out the app to more countries and approved users in the coming months.
Jeff Malmad, managing director of mobile at Mindshare, suggested the new app could benefit Facebook by making it easier for the famous to engage with followers. “With all the social media noise, the ability to provide celebs with direct access to filter out unwanted noise and go fan-direct is needed,” he said.
Screenshots from the app show celebrities including Mariah Carey, Tyrese Gibson and U.S. soccer star Alex Morgan among celeibrity users. A check in the App Store showed no ratings or reviews yet for Mentions, which isn’t so surprising, given its available to a much more select group of Facebook users than usual.