One of the most frustrating things about using Twitter for marketing is that it’s ephemeral by nature. Whereas a Facebook post will live forever, is easily accessible via your profile page, and stands a solid chance of being featured in someone’s news feed even hours after it was posted, tweets vanish into the aether almost as soon as they’re posted. Thousands are posted every second, and even if you only follow a small number of people, your stream quickly pushes a new post down to the bottom. On average, a tweet’s effective lifespan can be as short as a minute. And even Twitter’s “while you were away” feed only does so much.
That’s where Twitter’s new Moments feature comes in. Moments, according to the company, “helps you find the best of Twitter” – and that means that stories, events, and yes, individual tweets now have a longer lifespan instead of vanishing down the memory hole seconds after posting.
And that could be nothing short of revolutionary for the world’s biggest shared text.
So what are Moments?
Moments are collections of the best tweets, vines, and photographs relating to an ongoing story, event, or theme. Located on the menu bar by the new lightning bolt icon, Moments houses a selection of the most popular, most interesting trending topics, putting you in the midst of this conversation while simultaneously catching you up. Curated in real time by an actual human editorial team, Twitter Moments focus on viral tweets and content by partner websites like the New York Times and Mashable.
Here's a really great example of Twitter Moments in action:Wildlife photographs of the year
So what does this mean for you and me?
Right now, we can’t create our own Moments, and Twitter isn’t taking pitches, so you might think that there really aren’t any major takeaways. At first glance, it seems like a cool feature for twitterers, but not something that’s immediately actionable from a social media marketing perspective.
But that’s not entirely true. While we can’t build our own Twitter Moments, we can see ways into this powerful new feature by hijacking its structure.
- Moments are built around trending topics, so make a point of participating in these ongoing discussions.
- Moments are primarily visual. That means the curators are looking for high-quality photographs and images. They’re also prioritizing GIFs and vines for a more media-rich experience for users.
- Get on partner websites. Guest blogging is always a valuable activity, especially if you can get on high-traffic websites with social cachet like the New York Times, Vogue, and the Huffington Post. These partner websites generate their own moments in conjunction with Twitter, so guest blogging on a hot topic is a great way to get your brand inserted into the conversation.
- Stay current. Moments are always being updated, and staying on top of it will take an investment of time and energy to remain involved in the major conversations of the day (which is something you should be doing anyway).
We don’t know where Moments are going yet. And in time, it may be possible to create our own, or the process may become automated by some sort of powerful algorithm. When that happens, it will be easier to get in the game – but the game will be so much less valuable. In the meantime, being featured in a Twitter Moment will be a significant social media coup.
All of this doesn’t change a lot for your immediate Twitter strategy; participating in online conversations and trending topics is a smart thing to do in any case, images are always helpful, and getting a piece in the Huffington Post is always gonna be a big deal. But what we’re looking at is a hint of how Twitter is going to grow in the future – less stream of consciousness, more focused, story-oriented interaction, and heavily featuring guest content. Twitter has always been a massive firehose of posts coming at you full speed; if the future of Twitter involves getting that under control, then it means Twitter is going to change on a basic, fundamental level – much the way Facebook did when they added the News Feed back in 2006, becoming less a collection of profiles and more the ongoing social engine it is today.
And that’s something to stay on top of.