On Tuesday, Twitter unveiled its newest feature, Twitter Moments. As of the end of Q2 2015, Twitter topped 316 Million users each month, 63% of those users consider Twitter a source of news, and Twitter has almost twice as many users who follow breaking news than other social networks. With 500 Million Tweets each day, the social media giant has become a virtual firehose of information, with current issues and topic unique to Twitter. In no other forum will one see world leaders sending snarky Tweets to each other like after the Iran nuclear agreement was finalized. Therein lies the problem: if a user doesn’t know where to look, the best content may get buried. Moments has solved that problem by helping surface the best content from trending topics including Tweets, photos, videos, .gifs, and memes.
The idea that spawned Moments, a prototype called #GameTime (later re-named “project lightning”) came from product designers Allie Dyer and Wayne Fan during the Twitter hack week this past January, which coincided nicely with the most intense month of Football. Dyer wanted Football fans to be able to use Twitter as a companion to the games they were watching like she did so her and Fan decided to infuse timelines with the best Tweets about the game currently being played. The idea was to bring users the “most interesting commentary, stats, pictures, and videos from an event” without needing to follow those specific users, and when the event was over, the content would fade out.
In order to access the new Moments feature, look for the lightning bolt icon. For users accessing Twitter from Android or iPhone applications, look for a tab. On the desktop version, the lightning bolt is on the upper left side of the timeline next to the notifications icon. After entering Moments, the user lands on a feed of moments that are current and being talked about real-time titled “Today”. Last night, one of the moments was all about the season premiere of American Horror Story: Hotel featuring Tweets from cast members and reaction videos from fans. Late last night into this morning, the featured moment was all about the “strong geometric storm” that caused an amazing display of Aurora Borealis (northern lights) that was visible as far south as Pennsylvania.
The other topical feeds of moments are accessible by swiping left or right on smart phones, and if browsing desktop web, the links are on the upper left side of the moments feed. Users can navigate through several categories of moments: News, Sports, Entertainment, and Fun. Tuesday wasn’t just a big day for Twitter, it was also a huge day for the fast food king, McDonalds. Buzzfeed curated a Moment to celebrate the first day of all day long breakfast at McDonalds filled with .gifs, user videos featuring celebratory dancing, and amazement at the possibility of being able to order an egg McMuffin with fries.
The appearance of a promoted Moment led to some questions about how long promoted moments will be visible, would curated moments be overrun by sponsored content (read: ads), and what quality standards would Twitter apply to advertisers. Twitter published a guidelines and principles policy that the curation team follows when creating Moments. It states that Moments will be selected from what is happening on Twitter and created based on content featured across various media outlets. Further, conflict of interest is addressed and it is clarified that the curation team is not the same group of employees responsible for driving advertising revenue and that ultimately, Moments are “based on what best serves our audience, and not to benefit advertisers, partners, or Twitter’s business interests.”
The launch of Moments enhances user experience by dropping them right in the middle of what’s going on; complete content immersion. Twitter now provides users the ability to see, hear, read, and interact with other users, specific Tweets, or the entire moment at the height of the conversation. Following the moment, puts relevant Tweets front and center in timelines, when the moment is “gone,” so is the content, leaving no mess to clean up! Until Tuesday, unless you were following the right Twitter users at the exact right time, you may have missed out on an important conversation entirely.