Twitter’s adding another way to highlight happening news events and real-time discussion within the app, by pushing out a new ‘Happening Now’ notification which will appear on user home screens, focusing on live events.
Feel the roar of the crowd, no matter where you are.— Twitter (@Twitter) October 10, 2017
We're rolling out a new way to see what's happening now, starting with sports in Available on Android and iOS starting today. https://t.co/lmBFCK4DG0 pic.twitter.com/cv4wL8hCxA
Twitter says the Happening Now notifications will be relevant to your interests – similar to their recent addition of personalized topics in Search. If you’re unsure why you’re seeing the latest WWE event or political press conference in your feed, you can tap the down arrow icon on any topic header image for more info, or to hide it from your timeline.
At first, the highlighted events will be sports-related, but Twitter will expand the topics over time, helping connect you with the most relevant tweet mentions for each – without you having to manually locate the discussion yourself. You can pretty much already do this by simply using the relevant hashtag – but then again, that requires you to know the right hashtag in the first place. The new option aims to highlight real-time content which you may not be aware of, and get you more engaged with the things you like.
This is all part of Twitter’s wider, ongoing effort to simplify the platform in order to get more people involved. As of their last earnings report, Twitter’s growth had all but stalled, yet daily active user rates continued to rise steadily.
That shows that the people who are active on Twitter are finding value in it – a position that’s further supported by recent data from Pew Research, which indicates that Twitter’s relevance is improving as a news source.
So Twitter's relevant, and valuable, to Twitter users. Now they just need more of them.
The key stumbling block, from Twitter’s perspective at least, seems to be that many non-users simply find it too difficult. The tweet stream moves too fast, there’s a lot of spam and junk, and the good, relevant content often gets buried.
But the real benefit of this new tool could be the expanded promotion of Twitter’s live video content. Twitter has a whole range of live-streaming shows happening all the time, but there’s no central place to find them. They’ve experimented with displaying them in the Explore tab and highlighting them on the sidebar on desktop – but this option could give Twitter’s live video content more prominence, and get more people tuning in.
That’s particularly significant given Twitter has just greenlit sixteen new live shows, including content from Major League Baseball, BuzzFeed and LiveNation. Now, Twitter will have a more prominent place to promote them, as they happen, which could be significant in boosting the option.
As per their most recent ad campaign, Twitter wants to be the key real-time news source, the place you go to ‘see every side’ of any given news story or trend. In order to truly support that aim, Twitter needs to make it as easy as possible to do – the ‘Happening Now’ notifications could seem like something of an interruption at first, but if they can improve the relevance and focus to each user, it could be a positive step.