Project Lightning, the ambitious multimedia product aimed at saving Twitter, launched today.
Moments, as it’s being publicly called, was created to make the struggling social network easier to use for people who don’t spend all day on it. It’s seen as a “hail mary” project to appease investors, shore up its revolving doors of executives and rejuvenate user growth that has stalled recently.
This doesn’t mean Twitter’s signature timeline of tweets is disappearing. Moments is aimed at being complementary to it because it’s a new section on the app and on desktop that organizes tweets into topic pages (i.e. Entertainment, News, Sports, etc.). Sort of a like a newspaper!
Today’s topics are the massive floods soaking South Carolina, a recap of last night’s Monday Night Football game, a seemingly random collection of tweets and pictures highlighting the secluded Galapagos Islands and the Twitter-famous hedgehog Marutaro. It’s safe to say there’s something for everyone.
Here’s what it looks like:
— Twitter (@twitter) October 6, 2015
Rolling out to everyone today, Moments is accessed by tapping on a new lightning bolt icon snuggled to the right of the notifications button. Pressing it pulls up a list of — wait for it — moments, which consists of full-screen pictures, Vines, GIFs and videos centering around a certain topic.
It’s powered by an editorial team at Twitter, instead of an algorithm, giving them a significant amount of journalistic influence. Twitter published an editorial “Guidelines and Principles” dossier that the Moments teams follow in picking stories and tweets. Twitter has partnered with a plethora of publishers to deliver its content front and center to the section, including Mashable, Entertainment Weekly, BuzzFeed, NASA, New York Times, Vogue, and the Washington Post.
People can also “follow” a Moment, so tapping between the sections doesn’t become annoying. For example, major events, sorry moments, like the MTV Video Music Awards can be tracked within the timeline. When its finished, the timeline becomes de-clogged and the tweets disappear. Think of it as a more vibrant List function.
Since Moments is meant to turn Twitter’s profits around, there’s a monetization part to it too. Brands can purchase so-called “Promoted Moments,” that are given “prominent placement” within the new tab for 24 hours, similar to how a Promote Trend works.
“Brands are the ultimate storytellers,” claims Twitter in a statement provided to Digiday. Brands can build a “rich, multimedia experience” where they can tell a story with a narrative on a range of topics.
“We know finding these only-on-Twitter moments can be a challenge, especially if you haven’t followed certain accounts,” Madhu Muthukumar, a developer at Twitter wrote on its blog. “But it doesn’t have to be.” Muthukumar’s quote acknowledges how overwhelming Twitter can be to a new user.
Moments is meant to be a starter packet to setting up Twitter and assimilating people to it. So far, reaction (mostly from people that Moments isn’t intended for) has been mixed, including the opinion it closely resembles Snapchat’s Live Stories section:
Not sure what I think about Twitter Moments. Conceptually, I like the idea. But I feel like a newspaper has just been dumped into Twitter…
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) October 6, 2015
— Jay Yarow (@jyarow) October 6, 2015
So Twitter Moments is basically just Google News.
— Ben Walsh (@BenDWalsh) October 6, 2015
No text, no links, no jokes. Moments: For when you want to get rid of everything you like about Twitter.
— Matt Levine (@matt_levine) October 6, 2015
Twitter Moments baffles me. I get curating sources for ongoing events, but this is so lite, homogenous & fixed. NFL? NASCAR? Floods? Really?
— Paul Kedrosky (@pkedrosky) October 6, 2015
Great review on Moments from the CMO of Unilever :) (thanks Keith!) https://t.co/iWwEos5vMs
— adam bain (@adambain) October 6, 2015
The actual gauge of Moment’s success comes on Oct. 26, when Twitter announces its next earnings report.
Images via Shutterstock and Twitter.