Social networking behemoth Facebook is said to be busy testing a VIP app which will be for celebrities only.
The idea behind the app is to help celebrities manage their public persona, monitoring what fans are saying about them, and responding swiftly.
Facebook has come up with the concept in a bid to wrestle back some celebrity market share from Twitter, which has swiftly become the A-listers’ social network of choice.
While no mention of Twitter is made in Facebook’s official statement, it has confirmed: “We are currently testing some mobile features designed to help public figures interact with their fans. We are testing these features with a small group of partners and will share more details should we roll it out more widely.”
At the moment, Twitter is most used by celebrities to make quasi-public announcements or to interact directly with fans. And, for posting photographs, Instagram is loved by lots of high profile stars, including Rihanna who often posts racy holiday snaps of herself.
Celebrities also often choose Twitter as a forum to answer any criticism or clear up inaccuracies in controversial stories. Cher has just gone on a Twitter tirade after a duet she recorded with Lady Gaga was leaked online and Miley Cyrus responded to trolls who described her as a “ratchet white girl” by saying: “I know what colour my skin is. You can stop with the friendly reminders b****”.
Facebook, however, has had some major celebrity stories break on its site, including photographs posted by 21 Jump Street actor Channing Tatum, who proudly posted the first picture of his new born son to his Facebook account.
Facebook is now hoping its new app will encourage widespread use among more celebrities and their publicity people. If a star updates their status, or posts an image which generates a lot of fan feedback, the app is designed to make it easier to see comments being made, and to respond in real-time, so a celebrity can immediately become part of the conversation.
The new VIP Facebook app comes on the back of others which are being developed in a bid to make it easier for those in the public eye to share information and images across all social networks. WhoSay, for example, promises the “latest photos, videos and news, directly from your favourite celebrities, athletes and influencers”. So far, it counts Desperate Housewives actress Eva Longoria, Oscar winner Tom Hanks, American Idol presenter Ryan Seacrest, and Columbian actress Sofia Vergara among its users.
Since its launch, this is an arena in which Twitter has shone, already distributing VIP versions of apps to any celebrity partners it is working with. It also employs staff just to work on recruiting stars to use the platform because it knows celebrity users bring with them hundreds of thousands of fans, keeping Twitter at the heart of the news agenda.
That leaves Facebook playing catch-up. It remains to be seen whether Facebook has left it too late to begin the final sprint before the finish line.