Over the last few months celebrities have become something of a currency on the social web as services vie to attract big-name stars (and gather the resulting media coverage and new users in the process). Twitter has garnered the most attention for its roster, which includes celebrities like Ashton Kutcher and Oprah. Facebook too has been making strides in this area, especially since releasing its redesigned ‘Pages’ that allow celebrities and brands to broadcast their updates to fans.
Another contender in the celebrity hunt is social network platform Ning, which is already home to a number of social networks dedicated to celebrities, politicians, and musicians. Today, the company has announced that it has forged a partnership with The Collective, a management company whose clients include Enrique Iglesias, to create custom networks for a number of The Collective’s biggest clients.
Along with Enrique, Collective clients including comedian Eddie Izzard, and actors John Leguizamo and Taylor Momsen will be deploying their own social networks on the platform. And some clients, including The All American Rejects, Staind, and the Plain White T’s have already launched their own Ning networks as their homepages.
I spoke with The Collective partner Aaron Ray, who says that while the company’s artists will continue to maintain presences on other networks where appropriate, Ning has offered a greater degree of access to support personnel than other social networks have – clearly the site is going out of its way to foster its relationship with celebrities. But Ning SVP of business operations Jason Rosenthal says that the company is only interested in working with celebrities that will use their Ning networks to truly connect with fans, not just as vanilla corporate celeb properties.
Rosenthal also says that while many celebrities maintain presences across multiple sites, they tend to use Ning as their central hub, with their other profiles serving as satellite ‘spokes’ linking back to their social networks. This isn’t surprising given the increased level of control a celebrity has over their Ning network, than say, a Facebook page. But celebrities won’t be dropping the other services any time soon – a Ning network may offer a richer experience, but casual fans are more likely to subscribe to a celebrity’s Twitter feed or Facebook page than they are to join an entirely new social network.