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Facebook Launches ‘Creative App Platform’ to Expand Stories Functionality

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This could be a sneaky clever update for Facebook, as it looks to win back young users, and slow the rising momentum of TikTok as the social app of choice for the next generation.

Today, Facebook has announced a new ‘Creative App Platform’ for Facebook Stories, which will enable developers to create and promote Stories-related apps direct within the Stories eco-system.

Facebook Creative App Platform

As you can see here, through Facebook’s new platform, app developers participating in the program will be able to get their tools listed within the Stories composer flow, which will enable users to access more creative apps for their Stories, without having to go find them off-platform.

As explained by Facebook:

We worked to understand how Sharing to Stories could further support the unique needs of our creative app partners. We found that app discovery is a key issue – in a competitive and rapidly expanding market, it is expensive and difficult for our partners to reach the people that continue to find joy from their apps. In response, we’ve built the Creative App Platform – a new concept that allows people to discover creative apps directly in Facebook Stories.”

The concept is a lot like Snapchat’s ‘Minis’ offering, which enables developers to share micro-versions of their full apps within Snapchat. 

That expands on the creative potential of Snaps, by providing even more tools and add-on options that you can share, via your private Snaps, Stories, etc.

Facebook’s variation is focused on Stories specifically, and creative add-ons, as the name would suggest, with various developers signing up for the first phase.

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“In addition to partners that include media editing app B612 and performative music creation app Smule, we’re thrilled to partner with VivaVideo and Vita, all of which provide uniquely rich and robust experiences for story creators. We’re also thrilled to be adding new partners to the platform soon – these will include Picsart, one of the world’s best creative platforms, Camera360 and Sweet Selfie.”

The most significant advantage for Facebook here is expanded creativity, one of its key weak points at present, with the vast majority of its Stories features, along with tools for Instagram Reels, being replicas of options already available on TikTok and Snapchat, which leaves it constantly playing catch-up.

Even today, Instagram announced two new features for Instagram Reels, in text-to-speech translation and voice changing filters, both of which have been available on TikTok for literally years.

If Facebook, and Meta more broadly, is truly serious about winning back younger audiences, it’ll take more than a few trend-jacking tweets and sponsored videos from TikTok influencers – the company will need to commit to finding the next big things, the next big tools and options that will catch on with audiences, and make Instagram and Facebook the apps that people need to come to for the latest trends and features.

Meta should be able to do this. It has far more resources at its disposal than any of its rivals, while it also has a much larger cumulative audience, which should be a valuable lure to potential partners. No doubt many apps will be keen to tap into the reach of Facebook Stories to promote their tools – and if Facebook’s able to stumble across the next big trending function or tool as a result, and build that directly into Stories, without much effort on its part, that could be a major win for the platform’s youth push.

Which is why this new platform is likely of more value to Facebook than Minis are to Snap. Snapchat’s audience is much smaller, and more specific, demographic-wise, which will likely mean that Facebook’s ‘Creative App Platform’ will garner more interest – and if Facebook then looks to promote these new functions to more users, in order to boost Stories usage, the potential for its partner apps is significant.

It’s only the early stages, with the platform currently in limited beta, but Facebook has put out the call for potential partners to join up, with a view to the next stage.

It may not seem like much now, but this could end up being a significant update for Meta’s efforts.

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Socialmediatoday.com

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Ahead of World Cup, influencer ‘Mr Q’ lifts veil on Qatar

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Khalifa Al Haroon, known to his followers as Mr Q, has become a social media hit by partially lifting the veil on World Cup host Qatar

Khalifa Al Haroon, known to his followers as Mr Q, has become a social media hit by partially lifting the veil on World Cup host Qatar – Copyright AFP KARIM JAAFAR

Raphaelle Peltier

At a time when prickly questions are being asked about Qatar and its hosting of the World Cup, Khalifa Al Haroon offers a smile, a sigh and a shrug as he seeks to explain its mysteries.

Known to his growing number of followers as Mr Q, the 38-year-old has become a social media hit by partially lifting the veil over the tiny but mega-rich Gulf state that describes itself as a “conservative” Islamic country.

The first World Cup in an Arab nation has put a spotlight on Qatar’s treatment of foreign workers, gender rights and even the use of air conditioning in stadiums.

Haroon’s cheerful #QTip videos broach everything from saying “Hello” in Arabic to the right way for men to wear the flowing ghutra headdress. There is also an edition on labour rights.

With less than 60 days to the November 20 start of the tournament, he now has more than 100,000 followers on Instagram and more than 115,000 on YouTube. And the numbers keep growing.

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Qatar has dozens of online influencers on topics ranging from “modest” but expensive fashion, to the latest sports car being imported into what is now one of the world’s wealthiest nations.

Haroon carved out his niche by elucidating Qatar’s unknowns to its growing expat community — and now the hordes of football fans expected for the World Cup.

Haroon — who was born to a Qatari father and British mother and spent 16 years in Bahrain — said he was first confronted by global stereotypes about Qatar and the Middle East while studying for a law degree in Britain.

He had wanted to become an actor, but instead launched his social media presence in 2008 with a blog.

“I was in the perfect position because I was a Qatari who has never lived properly in Qatar,” he said.

– ‘Trust your own eyes’ –

“In essence, I was like a foreigner in my own country and so I had the same questions that foreigners did, and so it just made it easy for me to start putting together information.”

Haroon said there has to be a distinction between “negative news” and misinformation about his country.

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“When it comes to fake news, obviously, I think everybody understands that it’s not true and so the only thing that I could do is show people videos and pictures and show them what we’re really like because you can trust your own eyes.”

Some people, he said, have told him they decided to move to Qatar after watching his videos.

Haroon, who is now a consultant to the Qatar Football Association and an eSports entrepreneur, said he is excited about the World Cup “because people can now come here and experience it for themselves and make their own judgements instead of just believing what’s written”.

His main grouse is how outsiders see something negative about Qatar and then believe that all Qataris “accept it or we all agree with it”.

Many supporters of the 31 foreign countries who will play in Qatar have raised concerns, however, about the welcome awaiting them. Can they drink? And what will happen to same-sex couples in a country where homosexuality is illegal?

The government has insisted that beer, normally restricted, will be available and that everyone is welcome. Haroon wants outsiders to experience “real Qatari hospitality”, with its food and coffee culture.

“Of course there are going to be certain social norms,” said Haroon. “What we are asking for is just respect the country. And of course the country will definitely be respecting everyone that comes.”

“Some people might make mistakes because they don’t know what the rules are and that’s OK,” he added.

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“The point is our culture is all about intention, our religion is about intention, so as long as you have good intentions and you want to do the right thing, you have nothing to worry about.”

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