“Moments” is Twitter’s newest feed feature and another step away from content sharing, to content curation. For now it’s a blip, a cute add-on to make the traditional Twitter format more entertaining for users. But Moments is the beginning of something bigger. The Twitter team is working to incrementally redesign the whole experience. Whatever the result, they will impact how marketers use the social network to promote their brands.
A UX Slam Dunk
Moments is a slam dunk from a user experience perspective. It’s easy to navigate (on mobile) and strangely addictive, feeding bite sized pieces of visually appealing photos, instant videos, and commentary across different content categories. A quick scan gives a rundown of recent popular culture updates and world events. The twitter design team has kept the curation timeline pretty tight. Probably about 6 hours which means you come back for more.
Here are the basic reasons why people use Twitter and other social media networks: Sharing information, gathering information, entertainment, connecting with like-minded people, and messaging their contacts. Social media platform designers adjust these attributes to a mix that attracts the biggest audience. Moments is definitely a slide toward the information gathering and entertainment spectrum for Twitter.
But the feature also leans heavily on its content curation team. I like sports, but don’t care so much about keeping up with the Kardashians. Weaving together an engaging and broadly relevant feed will decide Moment's popularity. For now, the feed is the same for all Twitter users. Rolling this model out to a global audience will be a challenge.
Disrupting the Status Quo
Twitter is actually a latecomer to the content curation game. Many topics already have sites that pull relevant content from different sources. Hotelmarketing.com is a good example for the travel industry. Facebook is also now releasing its Instant Articles feature (a topic for another discussion).
Publishers hate content curation sites because readers get their content, but without their ads. What’s bad for publishers is also bad for brands that use ad marketing. Twitter’s move toward curation will also impact companies that promote their own branded content on twitter, along with the plethora of marketing technology platforms that help automate delivery and analyze your twitter engagements.
Personalization is Next
Moments is likely the beginning of a bigger change in the twitter format. An educated guess, but twitter will eventually automate and personalize its curation tool to produce unique feeds for every user. Your likes, hashtags, top tweets of the day, and other markers will help build a personalized Moments feed around you. Something similar to what Google News is doing with its platform.
The Trends feature on Twitter does something similar, but it only shows the raw tweet. It does not pull out and restructure the good bits of insights and engaging content – e.g. videos, pictures, graphs, etc – from the source.
If and when personalization happens in Moments, it would be a huge shift in how people engage with Twitter. Rather than sifting through the raw tweet feed, Twitter Moments will distill the most relevant updates from your 5K+ followers and present them in vivid color and userX.
Impacts on Marketers
Marketers leverage Twitter to engage their target audience both directly and indirectly. They share product updates, industry information, and branded content with their followers. We also want our ad partners to succeed. We want our customers to engage with publisher platforms directly, where our ads and sponsored content will be seen.
Twitter Moments will either attract new users to Twitter, or detract existing users from the traditional twitter feed. At the moment it’s a fun distraction away from the traditional twitter feed. But things will change if the curation model begins to overtake the traditional twitter format. The feed that we look at now will be the source code that powers the Moments experience.
Today, publishing tweets on Twitter is great free advertising. Your brand logo (Twitter pic) pops up across the feed of your followers free of charge. On Moments, the source information is obscured under the content that it curates.
Have no fear. Twitter is probably working on a more equitable and visible way to link content with its original source. Whatever they come up with might have various free and premium ways of making your brand be known.
Content creators, fire up those cameras and videos. Words without pictures will get lost in the noise and source code. Visual appeal will become even more important. Effective hash tagging will also probably become more important. They will be the hooks Twitter uses to stitch its curated content together. Ad space will also get tighter. Your twitter handle will probably become your watermark on curated twitter content.
As the twitter model changes, so will the technologies that help you automate and track your twitter engagements. The Hootsuites and HubSpots of the world will need to redevelop their platforms to match twitter's changing format. Good luck keeping up with their development teams.
Twitter should cater to listeners and promoters
Twitter has recently struggled to attract new users in an increasingly crowded social media market. The brand ultimately needs to put user preference ahead of publishers, if it hopes to stay relevant. But twitter also needs to create a good balance, a format that satisfies people’s desire to consume, but also share information. At the end of the day, twitter users are probably more interested in self-promotion, rather than updates from their connections. Curation threatens to stomp out this motivator.
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