Twitter expands their ‘Moments’ functionality to include celebrities and select brands. Soon, they will open it up to include all Twitter users.

By Alicja Gados

Have you heard of Twitter moments?

Moments is apart of the project intended to increase engagement in Twitter, which has been waning in recent years. The growth in number of Twitter users has been unimpressive for some time, and their share price has been reaching historic lows, only going up slightly when there are rumours of an acquisition. Most think it’s only a matter of time before the company is bought out.

What is Moments?

Moments allows users to browse the best tweets as selected by Twitter and select third-party users, such as large organizations and brands. It hopes to attract a loyal base of casual users who want to benefit from using Twitter without having to learn complicated intricacies of the app and its lingo. It centralizes the important information around a particular event or breaking news so it’s easy to find. This follows much of what the social media industry has been doing, centralizing information in one feed, including InstagramSnapchat and more.

Moments was first introduced in October of 2015 and was available on Andriod, iOS and on laptop and desktop computers.  Hundreds of millions of users abandoned Twitter before that, and this is their attempt to try to win them back.  The introduction of Moments was at a very critical time for the company. They’ve attempted to raise users above 300 million monthly users for quite some time, and have been loosing money. Their stock price continues to fall and hasn’t improved since the initial introduction of moments. 

It’s not the first time Twitter has created a curated content feature. Other attempts haven’t proven popular and have been discontinued. For example the Discover tab was created for this purpose, but was never used. Twitter has been looking for some time to create an easy to organize filter around particular news, events and breaking stories. The moments feature is the latest attempt at such a strategy. 

Makes news easier to find

One of the reasons behind Moments was the frustration that stepped from not being able to find the Tweets you want to see. The hashtag was not enough to see everything you want to see around a specific event. There may be tweets that are better than the ones you’re seeing, but have no way of finding them.  A moment is simply a collection of these most popular tweets.

The name is confusing, as Facebook too has a ‘moments’ feature, but the Twitter version shares only the name with the Facebook version and is completely different.  The Moments tab is curated by the Twitter team, and select media partners were initially invited to create their own.  This is now being expanded.  Specialized Moments tabs can be created by only select organizations, but in the future, every twitter user will eventually be able to curate their own.

How to use Moments

Initially, when you tap the Moments tab you’ll see a collection of Twitters top stories which were found and chosen by a dedicated Twitter team based out of New York and San Francisco.  Initially media partners were allowed to curate tabs, including Fox News, Entertainment Weekly, NASA, the New York Times, Vogue, Washington Post and a few others. Those topics chosen by the Twitter team were those that were going viral, and editors are looking for the best and most representative tweets of that topic. 

Moments favours direct sources

The Twitter team promotes the tweets that are from the source or directly involved in the story.  Moments is similar to a news feed you might see on a news site, including political events, national and international news, business, lifestyle pieces.  Other sections, which are very much like what you would see in newspapers, include entertainment, sports and news sections. When you tap on a type of story, you’ll see ten or more tweets on that topic.  You’ll see photos, text-only and video tweets.  You’ll be able to favour, share and re-tweet much like you do with all other twitter content. 

A typical Twitter Moments feed. Found under the "Moments" tab, the feed will show you current trending stories and news in several topic areas. Image from Twitter.com.

A typical Twitter Moments feed. Found under the "Moments" tab, the feed will show you current trending stories and news in several topic areas. Image from Twitter.com.

When the event is over, what you have been reading all goes away.  You don’t have to subscribe to information or tweets on that topic once the event is over, and don’t have to follow certain accounts to find out certain information.  Hence, this is easier to use without the need to do any research on how to use Twitter and access the things you want to see.

The idea is to have a collection of best moments chosen by Twitter and select Twitter partners.

Twitter Moments curated by Budweiser showcasing the evolution of it's beer can design. Image from Twitter.com.

Twitter Moments curated by Budweiser showcasing the evolution of it's beer can design. Image from Twitter.com.

Budweiser and Allure magazine are using the feature to promote their content. Budweiser is using the feature to allow followers to explore everything about and the evolution of their beer cans.

Allure Magazine is also a Moments publisher.  It uses Moments to promote it's magazine. Image from Twitter.com.

Allure Magazine is also a Moments publisher.  It uses Moments to promote it's magazine. Image from Twitter.com.

More Moments creators

Now, certain influencers, brands, partners will be allowed to curate Moments. This will allow these organzitaions to better broadcast their story and promote themselves, and/or their events. 

Twitter needs to find a stable way to increase users and generate a reliable profit stream. It needs to attract more monthly users to be competitive with other platforms (such as Facebook or Instagram) to draw advertisers. This is an attempt to increase their waning user base in a highly competitive social media environment.

Short History of Twitter

Twitter was created by a group of three programmers who were looking for a way to send text to their cellphones.  As almost everyone knows, Twitter’s short bursts of information are limited to 140 characters.  This only happened once they went public. This is because 160 characters was the limit for SMS and text messages at the time, and the founders wanted to leave 20 characters as space for a username to identify the speaker. 

Twitter has been used in politics and news, and has changed political information widely. Once, political messages were at the hands of a few powerful gatekeepers, but now the messages are scattered and come from many sources.  It’s also been very popular in allowing businesses to communicate with their customers and employees.  The initial one-way interaction has morphed over time to a two-way dialogue. 

What’s next for Twitter? It’s widely rumoured that they will be acquired by another, large organization in the near future.  Stay tuned.

 

Sources and Further Reading

Twitter https://twitter.com/i/moments/761284717794689024

Twitter https://blog.twitter.com/2016/opening-up-moments-to-more-creators

The Verge.theverge.com/2015/10/6/9457267/twitter-moments-project-lightning

Fortune.com http://fortune.com/2016/08/09/twitter-opens-moments/

Recode.net recode.net/2016/7/26/12287888/twitter-q2-earnings-new-users-revenue

The Globe and Mail theglobeandmail.com/technology/digital-culture/the-history-of-twitter-140-characters-at-a-time/article573416/

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