The first change out of Twitter since Jack Dorsey was re-instated as full-time chief executive officer is designed to make the service easier to navigate.
Today, Twitter begins “Moments,” a new tab that features the best content on the platform — like a magazine of sorts, in 140-character increments. The content will be visible to users regardless of which accounts each user follows, and will be accessible even to those who do not have a Twitter account.
Alluded to as “Project Lightning” in Monday’s conference call with investors, “Moments” is chosen by Twitter employees, and will “tell a story” through tweets (including images, videos, Vines and gifs) of the top 30 or so stories of the day, in addition to other tabs for topics like “Entertainment” or “Sports.” Unlike Trending Topics, these “moments” will not be automated or guided purely through hashtags.
Twitter has struggled to find a balance between devoted super-users and the casual, newer user who might become overwhelmed by the 500 million daily tweets sent by 316 million monthly active users. This new feature offers a way for those unfamiliar with the platform to get the full benefit of Twitter as a way “to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers,” according to Twitter’s mission.
To view “Moments,” Twitter users click on a lightning bolt icon in both the Web browser and the mobile app to view an updated list of the day’s key news stories. Users can temporarily blend Moments from live events into their timelines, which will be updated until the story (like a live news event) ends.
“It feels amazing,” said Dorsey of the project in Monday’s conference call, when he also emphasized his goal of better communicating what Twitter is. He and chief financial officer Anthony Noto also said that “Moments” would offer Twitter’s first real integrated marketing campaign. Dorsey is expected to discuss the marketing opportunities on Thursday.
Twitter has been working on “Moments” since earlier this year, and started building the product in the last six months. Twitter worked with news outlets including BuzzFeed, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times and Vogue to contribute and curate content, although “Moments” can include any Twitter account. To start, “Moments” are accessible to U.S. Android, iPhone and desktop users, but they can be shared or embedded anywhere. While outside services enable outlets to curate and embed content from Twitter, this will be the first time that Twitter provides that functionality in-house.
The hope in making Twitter more accessible to casual users will be to grow its user base, which increased only 2.6 percent from the first quarter to the second this year. This is a problem, experts say, of Twitter being confusing to use.
On Monday, Forrester analyst Erna Alfred Liousas told WWD that “they’re not growing because other people [who are not on the platform] don’t know how to use it.”
With this news, users and investors will be getting a look at how Dorsey will hope to combat those challenges. Earlier this year, Twitter added longer direct messages, self-service advertising for marketers to reach a global audience and a more robust “buy” button. It is also rumored to be expanding the length of tweets beyond the 140-character limit.