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Gadgets & Home Improvement

Make a celeb 'friend' on your phone

Mobile messaging apps are offering the hoi polloi a chance to connect with stars.
Asia One - May 29, 2013
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Make a celeb 'friend' on your phone

 

Many would love to have the number of a celebrity or two on their mobile-phone contact list.
And it would be even better if those celebs actually sent them text messages.
Now, mobile messaging apps like China's WeChat, Japan's Line and South Korea's KakaoTalk offer the hoi polloi a chance to connect with the stars.
And those like South Korean rapper G-Dragon and Taiwanese actress-singer Rainie Yang are making contact, sending out text messages and photos - just like a personal friend would.
Mr Simeon Cho, general manager of Line's business office, said: "Through these (accounts, celebrities) can connect with their fans in a more personal manner - directly through their mobile phones."
And the contact does feel more intimate than, say, a Twitter blast. Add Yang to your WeChat contact list, for instance, and she'll immediately send you a video message to thank you for being her "friend".
Savvy stars are also using the apps to promote new releases, as South Korean boy band 2pm did earlier this month. Then, the guys sent out updates about their latest album - in the form of photos and video links - almost daily, via Kakao and Line.
G-Dragon also released his new single MichiGo via Line - in the first of such celebrity tie-ups for the chat app - last month.
To get the single, fans had to buy a virtual G-Dragon cartoon sticker pack, one of Line's signature features, and send a sticker to the singer's official account.
Chat apps are a way for the stars to have "one-on-one interaction" with their fans, said Ms Katie Lee, assistant general manager of international public relations at Tencent, the company behind WeChat.
The app's ad campaign, fronted by Yang and Show Luo, was launched here earlier this year, and can be seen online and on TV.
Ms Lee added that many Asian celebrities, like Hong Kong's Angela Baby, Taiwan's Jay Chou and Malaysia's Amber Chia, are "jumping on board WeChat".
What's in it for the celebrities is that they get to capitalise on the apps' user base. Line has 150 million users while Kakao is reportedly hitting the 90-million mark. WeChat has 300 million user accounts worldwide, including over 40 million outside China.
The drawback for fans is that it's still pretty much a one-sided conversation.
Users get photos, texts and news from celebrities by following their official accounts, but one knows that the celeb isn't contacting just them alone.
Things are a tad more intimate on Line, where the communication lines between mere mortals and celebs are occasionally more open. The "On Air" signal will be shown on the app when a star logs on and when the star is supposedly reading messages from fans.
Earlier this month, 2pm's six members even held a virtual fan meeting on Line to promote their album.
But fans are happy with the interaction with their idols, limited as it may be. One such fan is Ms Verena Lin, 23, a financial-advisory associate, who downloaded Line to get news on G-Dragon.
"Seeing G-Dragon's regular updates keeps my 'fanaticism' for him alive. It also keeps me in the loop when it comes to his upcoming concerts or live performances," said Ms Lin, who also follows G-Dragon's social-media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
And there's more good news for fans like Ms Lin - the companies behind the apps are holding "offline" events featuring the stars.
For instance, Kakao organised a fan meeting with South Korean boy band BigBang in Indonesia last month.
Fans in Singapore may get some star activity soon, too.
Mr Cho said: "We are in discussions with some of Korea's top celebrities, so we hope to announce some good news in Singapore soon."

Many would love to have the number of a celebrity or two on their mobile-phone contact list.

And it would be even better if those celebs actually sent them text messages.

Now, mobile messaging apps like China's WeChat, Japan's Line and South Korea's KakaoTalk offer the hoi polloi a chance to connect with the stars.

And those like South Korean rapper G-Dragon and Taiwanese actress-singer Rainie Yang are making contact, sending out text messages and photos - just like a personal friend would.

Mr Simeon Cho, general manager of Line's business office, said: "Through these (accounts, celebrities) can connect with their fans in a more personal manner - directly through their mobile phones."

And the contact does feel more intimate than, say, a Twitter blast. Add Yang to your WeChat contact list, for instance, and she'll immediately send you a video message to thank you for being her "friend".

Savvy stars are also using the apps to promote new releases, as South Korean boy band 2pm did earlier this month. Then, the guys sent out updates about their latest album - in the form of photos and video links - almost daily, via Kakao and Line.

G-Dragon also released his new single MichiGo via Line - in the first of such celebrity tie-ups for the chat app - last month.

To get the single, fans had to buy a virtual G-Dragon cartoon sticker pack, one of Line's signature features, and send a sticker to the singer's official account.

Chat apps are a way for the stars to have "one-on-one interaction" with their fans, said Ms Katie Lee, assistant general manager of international public relations at Tencent, the company behind WeChat.

The app's ad campaign, fronted by Yang and Show Luo, was launched here earlier this year, and can be seen online and on TV.

Ms Lee added that many Asian celebrities, like Hong Kong's Angela Baby, Taiwan's Jay Chou and Malaysia's Amber Chia, are "jumping on board WeChat".

What's in it for the celebrities is that they get to capitalise on the apps' user base. Line has 150 million users while Kakao is reportedly hitting the 90-million mark. WeChat has 300 million user accounts worldwide, including over 40 million outside China.

The drawback for fans is that it's still pretty much a one-sided conversation.

Users get photos, texts and news from celebrities by following their official accounts, but one knows that the celeb isn't contacting just them alone.

Things are a tad more intimate on Line, where the communication lines between mere mortals and celebs are occasionally more open. The "On Air" signal will be shown on the app when a star logs on and when the star is supposedly reading messages from fans.

Earlier this month, 2pm's six members even held a virtual fan meeting on Line to promote their album.

But fans are happy with the interaction with their idols, limited as it may be. One such fan is Ms Verena Lin, 23, a financial-advisory associate, who downloaded Line to get news on G-Dragon.

"Seeing G-Dragon's regular updates keeps my 'fanaticism' for him alive. It also keeps me in the loop when it comes to his upcoming concerts or live performances," said Ms Lin, who also follows G-Dragon's social-media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

And there's more good news for fans like Ms Lin - the companies behind the apps are holding "offline" events featuring the stars.

For instance, Kakao organised a fan meeting with South Korean boy band BigBang in Indonesia last month.

Fans in Singapore may get some star activity soon, too.

Mr Cho said: "We are in discussions with some of Korea's top celebrities, so we hope to announce some good news in Singapore soon."

 

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