In the old days, you had to write a letter to their fanclub or queue for hours outside a theatre for a chance to have a famous person ignore you. But with Twitter, sending a message to a celebrity (for them to ignore) has never been simpler.
Now rival social network Facebook wants in on the celebrity-fan messaging scene. Mentions is an app that lets “actors, athletes, musicians and other influencers” see when they have been mentioned by Facebook users and respond in person, if they want. The pared down version of Facebook removes many of the features that clutter up the everyday scummy version, like news feeds and actually being friends with people.
Famous people are seen as a possible way to generate money from social media, as stars use the service to extend their brands and interact with fans. There is already an entire industry of social media experts who ghost write celebrity’s tweets for them. Both Facebook and Twitter have their own version of ‘Verified’ accounts (including Radio Times) and Facebook’s Mentions app sounds suspiciously similar to Twitter’s Mentions system, where thousands of fan messages are already sent and ignored every day.
Mentions is a pretty exclusive club. Facebook only ever intends to invite (it’s invite-only) a few thousand of the crème de la crème to join the app. Sheeran is the first British star asked to get the nod, although speaking to the Sunday Times, his spokesman claimed he would probably just keep using Twitter. Thus far the list also includes Robert Downey Jr, George Takei and William Shatner. We know this because Captain Kirk posted a brilliantly snotty review of the app, in which he complained that he had to follow at least one other celebrity before he could join: “I ended up choosing Robert Downey Jr to follow and then I hid his posts (sorry Robert!)”
Celebrities ignoring celebrities. Welcome to the new world.