In a bid to make itself a more prominent player when it comes to celebrity-fan relations, Facebook has launched a new app that it hopes will help famous people to connect with their followers.
The social platform’s latest software, Mentions, is only available to download for selected users. To qualify, a Facebooker must either have a verified account or be the administrator of a verified page.
The software will allow celebs to see what their fans are saying about them, post content and host live Q&A sessions, as well as access more streamlined notifications. The app will also notify them whenever they are mentioned by the media or other prominent figures.
Labelled as ‘ambitious’ by some industry commentators, the move will see Facebook’s offering become even more similar to the services of its biggest rival Twitter, which up to now has been the platform of choice for famous people and their hordes of followers.
However, VentureBeat’s Simon Cohen expressed some scepticism over the new app, commenting:
“[…]even if Facebook manages to capitalize on the combination of immediacy and celebrity that Mentions is clearly designed to achieve, the people who care most about these two things aren’t on Facebook in the numbers that they once were. Only time will tell if Mentions can lure them back.”
While Facebook aims to offer a user experience more like Twitter’s, its micro-blogging rival is becoming more and more like Mark Zuckerberg’s creation. In the last few months, Twitter has altered the appearance of users’ profiles to feature a more prominent ‘header’ image (Facebook’s equivalent is the ‘Cover Photo’), in addition to making news feeds less uniform by having images and videos appear as thumbnail previews, instead of cropped URLs.