In 2014, Facebook launched the Mentions App, a way for actors, musicians and athletes — basically celebrities — to engage with their fans. The functionality was powerful, adoption was steady. Which prompted a question from Facebook: How can we bring this celebrity-to-fan engagement to the red carpet at red carpet events like The Oscars and The Emmy‘s?
Say hello to the Facebook Mentions Box: A hand-held, physical device that celebrities shake (think of a Magic 8 Ball) to surface a question from their fans in real-time. With a dead simple interface, the Mentions Box provides a seamless way for celebrities to respond directly to their fans with a video message. The coolest part? Knowing that something we built landed in the hands of Jimmy Fallon, Matthew McConaughey and Katie Couric. #blush
We wanted a device that would be easy and elegant for celebrities to use while showing well on camera. We used cardboard and simple materials to explore and play around with potential form factors (from glass cubes to hovering drones). It quickly became apparent that anything you couldn’t easily hold in your hands would prove impractical.
Our team eventually decided on a polycarbonate body with a luxury car paint finish in order to achieve the device‘s aesthetic goals without compromising on weight. Ultimately, the device went through rigorous testing before being shipped straight to the red carpet.
The Emmys are coming and Facebook is getting in on the action! http:////t.co/jN6ZbvznzJ— Paula O'Sullivan (@OSullivanPaula) September 1, 2014
Can someone please post a pic of a celeb with their face in a Facebook Mentions box at the #emmys … I think it would bring us all great joy— Casey Newton (@CaseyNewton) August 26, 2014
The Mentions Box has now been deployed at over a dozen premier events around the world, with 8 devices deployed across multiple time-zones.
Originally the feature of a Fast Company article on the brewing battle between Facebook and Twitter to win over celebrity engagement, it has seen increasing demand from brands, venues, and events of all kinds. What’s next? We‘re currently exploring potential upgrades and iterations to the Mentions Box product, from LED-cases to an enhanced user experience. As one of Facebook‘s go-to partners, we‘re also thinking about fresh ways to connect fans and celebrities, and continue to bring Facebook into the real-world in exciting, never-been-seen before ways.