“Moments” is Twitter’s latest attempt to make its service less confusing

Twitter is hoping Moments will simplify the service.
Twitter is hoping Moments will simplify the service.
Image: Twitter
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This marks the beginning of Twitter’s turnaround.

After almost four months without a permanent leader, Twitter yesterday (Oct. 5) officially named Jack Dorsey its CEO. And today, the company is following up by releasing a new feature called “Moments”—previously referred to as Project Lightning—that’s supposed to help make the service easier to use.

Dorsey appears intent on starting off with a bang—sending a clear message to detractors that he can indeed lead both Twitter and Square as CEO.

Moments—available starting in the US on desktop, iPhone, and Android—is a feature executives have been talking up for months now, and Dorsey hopes it will help people understand—finally—why they should use Twitter. The service has been under fire for lagging user growth, leading to a roughly 60% drop in share price from its peak in 2014 and Dick Costolo’s stepping down as CEO in June. Twitter reported 316 million monthly active users in the second quarter—about a fifth of Facebook’s user base.

In July, Dorsey laid out his plan to investors during his first earnings call as interim CEO: “One, we need to ensure a more disciplined execution. Two, we need to simplify our service to deliver Twitter’s value faster. And three, we need to better communicate our value.”

Officially naming Dorsey as CEO takes care of the first step, and Moments, he hopes, could be the solution to Nos. 2 and 3.

Twitter’s strength has always been hosting conversations around live events, but it’s not always easy to find them. Doing so often requires some savvy, juggling multiple tabs within Twitter’s app—not to mention knowing the right hashtags and accounts to follow.

Moments is designed to untangle some of these complexities by relying on curation to surface such conversations. Both Twitter’s staff and its partners—including NASA, Major League Baseball, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and BuzzFeed—will package tweets into collections, which will show up under a new tab called Moments.

The collections will have titles, descriptions, and multimedia content (full-bleed images, videos, Vines, and GIFs) to introduce the topic to users. People can share Moments in tweets and also follow them, similar to how one follows users, for live updates. Moments can also be syndicated and embedded on sites outside Twitter.

After months of building up Project Lightning, Twitter needs Moments more than ever. But success won’t be measured with engagement—it doesn’t matter if Twitter’s existing active users take to it or not. Investors are hungry for one thing right now: new users who’ll come back every month.