It looks like Twitter is betting big on its recently launched Moments feature to help it grow its user base, which continues to grow at the rate of a snail's pace. Whether or not marketers are able to benefit directly from the feature, everyone stands to gain something out of Twitter increasing its user base.
Will Moments finally help Twitter kickstart its growth and benefit businesses using the platform for marketing purposes? Share your thoughts in the comments.
The company is getting a lot of attention for running a television ad during the World Series. It's not the first time Twitter has advertised on TV (that was in 2013 during a NASCAR race), but it's not something the company has been doing regularly.
Under constant pressure from shareholders and industry analysts (not to mention the ouster of CEO Dick Costolo) to pick up the pace on growth, Twitter is trying its damnedest to launch more products and features and make it easier for the general public to understand what they're missing out on by not using Twitter.
The new ad focuses specifically on Moments, as did a conference call held to discuss Twitter's Q3 earnings release on Tuesday to a great extent.
Just What Are Twitter Moments?
Twitter unveiled Moments earlier this month. Basically, moments are curated stories made up of tweets, images, vines, videos, and GIFs. They are curated by Twitter and by select partners, which include Bleacher Report, Buzzfeed, Entertainment Weekly, Fox News, Getty Images, Mashable, MLB, NASA, New York Times, Vogue and the Washington Post. The number of curators will expand over time.
Twitter users can access and follow specific stories from the new Moments tab, which features a lightning bolt icon. New stories appear throughout the day and are continuously updated and organized by topics like entertainment, sports, etc.
For now, the feature is available to U.S. users on Android, iOS, and the web. Users outside of the country can view moments if someone shared one with them.
It didn't take long for Twitter to turn Moments into a potential ad product. This was no doubt the plan from the beginning, but it took the company a couple of weeks to mention that part.
Promoted Moments made their debut this past weekend. This is a new native ad format that it is now testing with certain partners.
“We’re seeing how powerful this experience can be for diving into meaningful narratives — and since Twitter’s inception, brands have told some of the very best stories on the platform,” said Twitter brand strategy manager Bobby Grasberger. “Promoted Moments, like all of our ad products, will look and feel just like all other Moments — except they’ll be authored by a brand and be featured in the Moments guide for 24 hours, with a Promoted badge.”
The first one came from MGM, Warner Bros, and New Line Cinema for the movie Creed. The ad debuted on Twitter on Sunday.
Why Twitter Thinks Moments Will Work
As mentioned, this is not a feature that Twitter is taking lightly. A great deal of the earnings call dealt with Moments, which CEO Jack Dorsey referred to as "the best of what's happening on Twitter in an instant" and the "simplest way to see what's happening in the world, all organized by topic."
He noted that it's still early and the company is collecting feedback on the feature, but that they've already seen how it has improved Twitter. He went on to talk about the Moment for the Toronto Blue Jays series clinching win over the Texas Rangers during the playoffs, which he said showed the best places, commentary, and passion from fans after a go-ahead home run.
Dorsey also talked about The Washington Post Paris Fashion Week Moment, which he said put people front row for designs fro a premiere fashion event as well as Mashable's Moment of the South Carolina floods, which he said "brought home in a very visceral way the extent of flood damage" and how residents recover.
He also noted how Moments are not only on Twitter in the Moments tab, but that they're embedded all over the web, and that's always been a key component of visibility for Twitter content.
Even before Twitter let users embed tweets, the media would display images of Tweets, whether on television or in web articles.
Dorsey said Twitter's focus with Moments is currently to make them easier to discover and get people into them right when they open Twitter. Hence the TV ad.
Rolling the feature out beyond the U.S. is also a priority.
"Moments is just the start of bolder simplification efforts you will see on Twitter," Dorsey said during the call. "I’ve challenged our teams to look beyond assumptions about what makes Twitter the best play to share what's happening. I'm confident our ideals will result in the service that’s far easier to understand and much more powerful."
COO Adam Bain said that in Q4, Twitter will be opening up a new video focused inventory with the launch of Promoted Moments.
"It’s designed to be a great platform for marketers to tell their stories, especially video centric narratives," he said, noting that last weekend's Creed campaign generated awareness and anticipation of the film by curating videos and tweets.
The goal for Promoted Moments, he said, is to learn alongside marketers. According to Bain, demand for the format is strong and the company will be "deliberate" in its approach with a limited series for "quality consumer experience above all else."
During the testing phase, consumers will not see Promoted Moments every day.
Twitter CFO Anthony Noto noted that the company is excited about the potential of Moments as "a fully integrated launch across all cross-functions". This, he said, is something the company has been saying it needs to do in order to "capture the next cohort of users to use Twitter."
"Specifically we want to not just with engineering product and design but also an integrated team across marketing, coms, content and media," he said. "If you've been online or on mobile, you'll see your digital video ads, you will see our paid search ads, you will see our display ads and more to come on the marketing and content and media front. So we’re excited about all of those things and opportunity Moments brings to simplify our product and make it much easier to communicate our marketing."
Noto said Twitter has "opportunities to optimize across marketing channels and content quality and our choice and selection on content."
"The one other thing I'd just point out from a metric standpoint and I want to make sure investors really appreciate this point is Moments by itself is simplifying our product, but there are many features within Moments that leverage the strength of Twitter, the social aspects of Twitter and the strength of our open communication network," Noto continued. "So the retweet, the share, and the favorite, you can retweet, you can share, and you favorite within Moments and what that does is it provides content back to all your followers in their home timeline enhancing their experience. So Moments is about driving adoption without a doubt and engagement, but it’s also about reinforcing the quality and strength of every node in our network and so we’re also focused on those things."
Dorsey chimed in again, "Moments represents a real fundamental shift in our thinking and the reason why is a lot of Twitter is organized by a reverse chronological timeline. We make people do a bunch of work to find the right accounts to follow and then they actually see the world through those accounts. What Moments does is you can open it up, you can actually see everything that’s happened in the world, that’s most meaningful, it's organized by topics, so you see topics first. You tap in to each one of those Moments and you can actually see really unique insight and commentary on the particular event that you’re interested in."
He later referred to Moments as "one of those bold new experiences that I think does question a bunch of our fundamentals around making Twitter a whole lot easier to understand."
As far as Moments rolling out to the rest of the world, Dorsey said the company has an international rollout strategy for the product, but that it doesn't want to pre-announce any markets. He said they just want to get it to everyone in the world as quickly as they can.
"What I will tell you is that we want to build in the learnings from our launch in the U.S. and do it in an integrated way, the way we have in the U.S. in each one of those markets, so more to come," he said.
According to Noto, Moments is only the first of other product changes on the horizon that are fundamental to attracting more users and simplifying Twitter.
Twitter is claiming 307 million monthly active users in Q3. That's only a gain of 3 million from Q2.
If Twitter can kickstart growth, it means more eyeballs for businesses on Twitter whether than means more followers or more visibility for promoted tweets, not to mention increased potential for any ecommerce endeavors - another area where Twitter is finally growing.
Do you believe Twitter can convince more people to start using its services with Moments and other product launches? Do you think businesses will benefit from a growing user base? Discuss.
Image via Twitter, Earnings call quotes via SeekingAlpha