Last month, Twitter announced that all users would now be able to create their own Moments - curated collections of tweets that are designed to maximize the storytelling capacity of the platform, optimized for mobile devices.
For everyone who wants to make a Moment - starting today you can! Creators everywhere can now tell stories with Tweets. pic.twitter.com/ZJtNBoTPWf- Twitter (@twitter) September 28, 2016
The announcement wasn't exactly met with excitement. While some social marketing folk jumped on board and started creating their own Moments straight away, for most, the new option just slipped by like so many other 140 character missives.
The general response is best summed up by this tweet from tech commentator Benedict Evans.
The Twitter Moments creator went live a few weeks ago. I made one. Haven't seen a single one in my feed not from a twitter employee- Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) October 15, 2016
Really, it seems like Twitter's just waited too long to open up the option to all users - had they made Moments available to all users from the start, when interest in the new option was at peak, you may have seen some more creative and innovative uses of the tool that could have got more people excited about the offering. This is especially relevant when you consider that Twitter ran its first ever TV ad for Moments, that they gave it such prominent placement, right in the middle of the app's function bar. But now, there are reports that Twitter's looking to demote Moments, replacing the tab with a new "Happening" or "Explore" option.
An example of the new "Happening" tab currently in test mode for some users (via @JeffDLowe)
So just as Twitter seems set to concede that Moments will never become everything they had initially hoped it would, they open it up to all users? Not exactly the most appealing pitch.
The disappointing thing about this is that Moments is actually pretty interesting, and offers some great options for brands, in particular. Underlining this, the Twitter UK blog recently published a list of tips on how businesses can maximize their use of Moments - and the examples provided highlight some of the ways in which the tool can be an effective medium to deliver a powerful message.
Here are Twitter's five tips on how brands can get the most out of Moments, along with some examples to help get you thinking.
1. "Build a Clear Narrative"
Moments is essentially a storytelling tool. Like both Snapchat and Instagram Stories, the latest key trend in social is to string together your social posts into a sequence to provide a more comprehensive, and concise, narrative around your experience. That makes sense - storytelling is, and always has been, a critical device in how we communicate - and these latest tools work to better facilitate that in an easy to consume, mobile-friendly way. Sure, you could just video your entire day, but social storytelling tools provide an option to condense a longer story into a much more digestible format, and that can be utilized to provide more engaging content experiences.
In line with this, Twitter advises that brands should look to implement a clear narrative structure, with a definitive beginning, middle and end to their Moment.
"Using images as dividers can help to structure your Moment. This gives the user a clear path as they swipe through. Your Tweet copy should help to provide context and intrigue, encouraging the user to continue swiping."
Twitter puts forward Unilever's @persiluk as a great example on this front, with their Moment looking at how little time modern kids spend outdoors as part of a recent campaign.
Another example is from @MartinCraster, who has used Moments to highlight the creative potential for comic-book style animation.
Immediately, from those two examples alone, you can see the larger potential for Moments - the full-screen, immersive presentation, the mobile-centric design. This obviously goes well beyond what's possible with tweets alone.
2. "Don't be Repetitive"
Twitter makes a very relevant storytelling point in their second note:
"Remember that the user always controls the journey. By adding a Tweet to your Moment it has to add value to the story - you want to keep the user hooked. If your narrative is exciting and original you'll keep them swiping."
This relates to any kind of storytelling - in screenwriting, for example, you need to ensure every scene and every line counts. If you start drifting off and fading from the main narrative, you'll lose attention - lose attention and you'll lose your audience. Every element, every line matters - you need to keep your viewers glued to the content and keen to find out what's coming next.
Twitter uses an example from @UniversalPics to highlight this - for the most recent Jason Bourne film, Universal created a choose-your-own-adventure Moment which took their audience down different paths according to the choices they made.
Again, this underlines that there's more to Moments than it may seem - while Twitter hasn't necessarily done themselves any favors in this regard, with their own curated Moments covering a huge breadth of topics (and many not following the principles noted here), there are different ways to use the tool that can enhance audience engagement.
3. "Simple Visuals Perform Best"
As is the case on all platforms, visuals play an important part in getting people to stop their scrolling and pay attention to a Moment. As such, it's important to ensure that your cover image, at the least, is appealing.
"Think carefully about your cover image. Dynamic GIFs, clean and impactful imagery or celebrity talent can all serve as an initial hook to increase interest."
It's no secret that great images attract attention - Instagram was basically built on this core principle - so it's important to focus on visual representation and how you can use your images to help share your brand story and maintain audience attention.
Twitter uses @Volkswagen as an example of how to use high quality, premium brand visuals in Moments.
4. "The Shorter the Better"
As noted earlier, while longer form storytelling options have always been available via social platforms, the latest trend in social storytelling relates to more short-form, condensed narratives. This works to help add context to your story, in the form of short videos, without demanding too much of a time investment from your audience. And given that so much of our content consumption is now done via mobile, while we're on the go, maximizing the time your viewers have available - and keeping them engaged at each step - is paramount.
Twitter advises that Moments creators should create titles that are short and intriguing, and try to keep their descriptions under 30 words.
Twitter provides @VirginMedia as an example of this, with their recent Moment featuring Usain Bolt utilizing minimal text to put more focus on the main content.
5. "Tweet and Promote your brand Moment"
And the last point is probably more self-serving, from a Twitter ads perspective. Twitter advises that brands can use Promoted Tweets and Twitter's audience targeting capabilities to amplify their brand Moments.
"And of course, you always have the option to share your Moment organically with your followers. Using Pinned Tweets, brands can also push their Moment to the top of their timeline to drive further engagement."
As you can see, there's more to Moments than you may have thought, and the presentation options - particularly with the focus on full-screen mobile display - are great. Using these notes as a guide, you'll likely be able to come up with a whole range of ways in which Moments can be used to showcase and highlight your brand and offerings - and what's more, Moments are easy to create. Sure, the process itself is a little clunky, but they don't require in-depth technical knowledge or know-how, anyone can create a Moment, given a little time and inspiration.
While it hasn't taken off as Twitter might have hoped, Moments can be a powerful tool, and it's worth another look now that everyone has access.
If you want to try your hand at creating a Moment, select the "Moments" option from the drop-down listing on the desktop site (or on the "Moments" tab alongside "Lists").
From there, the option to create your own Moment is on the right of screen - you can currently only create Moments from the desktop site, it's not available via mobile.
From there, the creation tool will take you through the process - it takes some back and forth to learn the details of how it all works, but it's relatively straight-forward once you get the hang of it.