Shakespeare, Elvis, Marilyn - the famous live on on Facebook

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 December, 2014, 10:36pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 December, 2014, 12:38am

With almost 16 million likes for his Facebook page, William's a popular guy.

He updates his profile almost daily with funny photos, witty quotes and hilarious memes - all of which get hundreds of likes, shares and comments. The catch is William's been dead for almost 400 years, and it's certain that he knew nothing of the term "social media" during his time on earth.

William Shakespeare is just one of thousands of Facebook profiles created posthumously, a move that has given many of those who died long before computers even existed a new "virtual" lease of life.

Having such pages can give fans a chance to "interact" with their idols, and they can be powerful marketing tools for publicists representing the "brand" of the deceased.

For example, on Elvis Presley's official page you can find all sorts of memorabilia while fans of Marilyn Monroe - who would have been 88 if she were alive today - can like, share and comment on photos of the starlet, from rare black and white images to colourful pop art renditions of the style icon.

Who knows what physicist Albert Einstein, who also started a Twitter account last year, would have thought of his page, which is peppered with philosophical quotes, competitions such as "Show us your Einstein hair" and birthday wishes.

Globally, two of the 25 most popular Facebook fan pages are for dead people: Michael Jackson with almost 80 million fans and Bob Marley with about 74 million.

In Hong Kong, fans often turn to the virtual world to keep the spirit of their idols alive, with one popular example being Bruce Lee's page which has almost 18 million fans.

The legacy of late Canto-pop idols Anita Mui Yim-fong, who died in 2003 from cancer, and Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing, who committed suicide that same year, also remains strong with dozens of Facebook pages devoted to them.

Lana Lam