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Twitter Moments: There’s no Lightning

I was so excited about Twitter moments. Twitter, with all its real-time data, was destined to hit a home run here. Hire a staff of people to curate and capture what we’re talking about and drive conversation to the point where current users are excited and new users sign up in droves.

The idea is brilliant. And you know investors and directors want it to work, because the news about stagnant growth at Twitter overshadows everything else.

The execution, though, is a dud. Project Lightning is more like an on-and-off drizzle, the kind you just want to wipe away from your face because it fogs up your glasses and is more annoying than refreshing. I wrote about my concerns 3 weeks ago, knowing full well that it was new and had room to grow. But now, there’s no excuse.

I have never met anyone who works there now, but as someone who has worked in a newsroom for 21 years I can tell you exactly where these folks are going wrong.

Here’s a taste. After you read them, I’d love to hear your thoughts about Moments in the comments.

last8
This moment is 4 days old!!

What exactly is a moment?

To me, a moment is what people are talking about in the moment — aka NOW. The name Project Lightning to me signifies quick turnaround. In the accompanying screen grab, you’ll see the United States trends. Note that none of these trends appear in the Moments list. Also note in other screen grabs that some of these moments are at least 4 days old. Yeah, you read that right. 4 days old. Maybe that was a Moment at some point, but it’s certainly not one now.

The power of real-time conversation

We had a breaking news story this morning, and you can see the popularity of that story in the United States trend screen grab. It was announced that Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane will not face rape charges. This is a big story in Chicago, New York and anywhere professional hockey is played. Here’s how I reacted to this story as the Chicago Tribune social media editor

8:41 a.m.: We heard that this announcement was made in Erie County, New York.
8:43 a.m.: Story first posted on chicagotribune.com
8:44 a.m.: Newsalerts sent to our readers, both via e-mail and SMS.
8:44 a.m.: Tweets from various accounts sent.
8:45 a.m.: Facebook post up
8:45 a.m.: More tweets sent
8:46 a.m.: Google+ post up
8:46 a.m.: Edits made to story on chicagotribune.com. Other related assets and photos added.
8:47 a.m.: Tumblr post up
8:48 a.m.: Reddit post up
8:50 a.m.: Updates made to Facebook posts

In a span of 9 minutes, we took one of the most popular stories of the day and created a digital and social experience for our readers on all platforms. And now, 90 minutes later, we are still driving that conversation.

That’s how you create a moment, capital M or not.

last5
Nothing that’s trending is a Moment. How is that even possible?

Meanwhile, 90 minutes later and despite being a trending topic according to Twitter in Chicago, New York, the United States and in other places, the Patrick Kane story is not even mentioned in Moments.

That’s what we in the business call a #FAIL.

Even Facebook, which is normally pretty bad when it comes to quick response to what’s trending and being talked about, is faster than Twitter Moments. Next week, Facebook is rumored to launch Notify, a real-time notification app with manual curation. If I was working on Moments, I wouldn’t be too concerned about Notify because Moments wouldn’t work like it does now. But in this reality, Moments has every reason to be concerned. Reiterating my earlier point about Twitter’s power over real-time data, Moments should be the clear-cut winner. I think it’s going to be a fight, one where I can easily see Facebook winning.

I’ll close with a message to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey: Moments can be what it needs to be and then some with the correct people working on it. I’d love to share my very specific thoughts, but this isn’t the correct forum because specifics don’t come cheap or free. But invite me to SFO and let’s have coffee. Coffee is cheap, and in this case it might be worth every penny.

And if you would like to help me get Jack’s attention, please tweet him a link to this post. As a long-time Twitter fan who actually applied for a job to work on Moments, I want to see Moments thrive. Thank you.

About Scott Kleinberg

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2 comments

  1. Nice read. And I tend to agree with most of your sentiments. Still holding out for a better Twitter Moments experience.