Twitter kicked off the final quarter of 2015 with a bang, naming a new (sort of) CEO and finally releasing its curated 'Moments' feature. However, early reviews of the service suggest the company may have aimed too low.
After a summer of uncertainty, Twitter this week made two of the most important announcements in its history. On Monday, cofounder and former CEO Jack Dorsey was officially renamed Twitter CEO, following an exhaustive search that ultimately led back to where it started. Dorsey was fired from the company in 2008, but was later named interim CEO in July 2015, before taking the new job.
However, Twitter’s Tuesday release of a new feature called “Moments” could prove to be more crucial to the company’s future than its new leader. Unfortunately for Twitter, early reviews of Moments, which aims to curate and highlight a combination of real-time and older tweets, suggest users aren’t exactly impressed.
Moments follows a series of previously failed attempts to make sense of the 500 million tweets people post to the platform each day. The feature offers a mix of tweets and short video clips, curated from Vine around specific topics and areas of interest. Moments won’t likely interest many of the company’s power users, but it could make the platform more appealing to beginners or more casual users.
Moments is an attempt to deliver a snapshot of the “best of Twitter,” and that strategy “may hold more appeal for someone who is trying to figure out how to use the platform,” says Forrester analyst Erna Alfred-Liousas. “The content is light in some areas and may not necessarily live up to the items I’d choose for myself, but this is a step in the direction of innovation.”
Twitter Moments lacks sense of urgency
Moments features five categories: today, news, sports, entertainment and fun. The afternoon of Moments’ first day of public availability, editors hired by Twitter to curate and package the day’s most important news and media delivered seven news stories, three in sports, and one in entertainment. Midway through the day following its release, Moments hadn’t been updated with any new sports or entertainment stories.
Greg Meyers, Motorola CIO, who considers himself a religious Reddit user, isn’t impressed with Moments. Meyers says the new feature represents what Twitter wants its users to see, but other social networks enable more personalized experiences. And a quick comparison of story feeds on CNN and in Twitter Moments showed nearly identical selections, according to Meyers. “I could see myself with 60 seconds to spare using [Moments] or CNN, but my nightly reading is still going to be Reddit and Feedly.”
However, Meyers says people who already use Twitter as a primary news source will probably appreciate the new breadth of information within the app.
Moments available only in official Twitter apps
Despite these early shortcomings, Moments may be the exact kind of thing Twitter needs to capture new users, and recapture lost ones, according to Jan Dawson, chief analyst and founder of tech research firm, Jackdaw. “It’s immersive, it’s very easy to use and it takes no training at all to get going with it,” he says. “I think the categories capture a lot of the stuff people are most likely to use Twitter Moments for, but there’s always scope for them to do more later.”
However, many Twitter members (including Dawson) don’t use the official Twitter app and won’t generally see or use the Moments features, because it’s not available in popular third-party apps. “This is one of the biggest challenges Twitter faces — many of its power users are using third-party apps where their newest functionality isn’t available,” Dawson says. “That could drive those users back to Twitter’s own apps, but it could also create a growing gulf between the experiences of Twitter’s power users and its mainstream users.”
Matt Kapko has been writing about technology since before the dawn of the iPhone, and covering media well before it was social. Matt lives with his wife in a nearly century-old craftsman in Long Beach, Calif. He can be reached on Twitter: @mattkapko or by email: email@example.com.