Facebook has a new mobile app for sharing updates and photos.
The one catch: it’s only for famous people.
Facebook Mentions allows “actors, athletes, musicians, and other influencers” (in the words of the app’s iTunes page) to “discover and join conversations on Facebook.” Celebrities—or, presumably, their assistants and handlers—can use the app to monitor conversations among fans, host live Q&A sessions, and start conversations with other influencers.
The app will only work for those individuals with verified accounts, and brands are forbidden (at least for the moment) from using it.
The appearance of Mentions isn’t surprising in light of Facebook’s recent push to produce standalone apps with relatively limited functionality. In theory, the proliferation of these apps will allow the social network to target different audience segments more effectively than its “standard” app. Facebook’s developers and engineers could also update smaller apps much more easily than the company’s sprawling core property.
As Web properties fervently compete for user eyeballs, they’ve spent more time and resources promoting the celebrities who use their platforms and tools. Yahoo has expended millions of dollars on name-brand journalists such as David Pogue and Katie Couric, who will presumably serve as “faces” of the brand; Google’s YouTube just launched a new round of advertising that highlights its video stars; and Twitter has long assigned the iconic blue check-mark to famous users. By introducing Mentions, Facebook clearly wants to encourage the celebrities on its network to engage even more with their respective audiences.
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