As Twitter’s growth has sputtered and stalled in recent months, one question has become increasingly urgent: How can the social media platform become more accessible to new users without alienating hardcore fans? Moments, a new feature making its Canadian debut on April 12, represents a partial answer for the company. The service collects the best tweets on a particular subject—from sports to entertainment to breaking news—in a single place, providing an easy access point for casual consumers. “This is a visually different experience that encapsulates a single topic in a highly consumable way,” says Rory Capern, the recently appointed managing director of Twitter Canada. “I think it makes the tweets more approachable.”
Moments adds a new tab, emblazoned with a lightning bolt, to Twitter’s desktop and mobile apps. Readers can flick through galleries of tweets connected to a topic or choose to have messages related to a particular moment—like a sporting event—added to their own timeline for the duration of the event. Each Moment is selected by a team of editors led by Jennifer Wilson, who previously worked at the Toronto Star. “News breaks on Twitter,” says Wilson. “Whether it’s Marshawn Lynch announcing his retirement or Drake announcing the release date for his album, you get a lot of that great source material right on Twitter. It’s just that not everybody knows were to look for it.”
Twitter initially launched the feature in the United States last October. At the time, Madhu Muthukumar, the project manager for Moments, told the Wall Street Journal: “What we’re trying to do is get the content directly in front of you without you having to make decisions.” The goal is to simplify the Twitter experience for neophytes confused by off-putting conventions such as hashtags and reply signs. Analysts, however, were skeptical of the new feature. “We have been singularly unimpressed with Moments, and view the service as no different or more interesting than a typical home page on any competing news site,” wrote Wedbush Capital Partners.
The company will continue to hone its product based on user feedback, according to Capern. “What we’re excited about is the constant testing on new ways to use Twitter and engage users,” he says. “Moments is relatively fresh out of the oven and we’ll be watching how to tweak it and how to make it better.”
Moments also presents a new revenue opportunity for the social media company. Media brands can create and promote their own collections within the feature while advertisers can sponsor them. The first promoted Moment in Canada comes from Rogers Communications (which owns Canadian Business) and will showcase the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs.
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