Is Facebook going to be divided along class lines, like everything else in the world? A new report from AllThingsD’s MIke Isaac makes that a distinct possibility. The social network is testing a VIP-only mobile app that lets the famous and celebrated monitor Facebook activity and conversations around them, and gives them the opportunity to respond immediately.
Facebook’s VIP app isn’t really about stratifying its users into the haves and the have-nots – it’s more about encouraging high-profile members to be more active and engaged on the site. In other words, Facebook is yet again saying “I’ll have what she’s having” to Twitter, which enjoys a very active celebrity user community and sees user engagement benefits as a result. Increased activity from celebs could theoretically be very helpful in terms of drawing in younger audiences, too, which would help Facebook with its perceived teen user problem.
Facebook has also released a Page Manager app for mobile devices in the past, which has a similar motivating principle, as it provides ways for brands to manage their Facebook presences and interact with their communities while on the go. Other businesses have been built entirely around the concept of helping brands and celebrities manage and engage with their social media followers, including Hootsuite and Troy Carter’s Backplane, which is essentially a way for brands and artists to roll up their online identities into consolidating communities.
As Isaac notes, Facebook has recently debuted pilot projects or new functionality for a number of features “borrowed” from Twitter, including hashtags, trending topics and more. It’s part of a larger effort the company is making to shift into being more about public sharing, which also included the launch of followers who can view public updates but don’t have to have friendship reciprocated by the other party.
A Facebook spokesperson has provided us with their official statement on the matter:
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.