I have a friend who is all over Facebook, owns just about every Apple product they make and is my go-to guy for Photoshop editing needs. And yet he just can’t figure out Twitter so he doesn’t use it.
He’s not sure who to follow. He doesn’t understand retweets and @mentions. He doesn’t care what his friends had for breakfast. He just can’t figure out how to get it to be a useful tool. Does this sound familiar?
I’m a big fan of Twitter. I get it. I’ve configured it so it’s useful during breaking news. I follow a diverse group of people (328 of them) so that there’s always something new and informative in my feed. Instead of reading a book before I go to bed, I scroll through Twitter.
It’s clear, however, that Twitter still confounds some people. As an evaluator for GateHouse’s Inner Circle program – for which we set minimum standards for content creation and social media participation at all of our newsrooms – I see how some reporters still don’t quite get it. They never bought into Twitter and they’re not quite sure how it can help them as a journalist in 2015 (which it can!).
We ask every reporter to post to Twitter at least twice a day, every day. It’s not only a way to get information to your readers/followers and to hopefully get clicks back to your website, but it’s a way for journalists to keep in touch with and be a part of their community.
So there’s some good news – Twitter has just this month launched a new feature that should help the Twitter-illiterate among us get more comfortable using the tool. It’s called Moments.
Moments is a tab within Twitter (you’ll have to upgrade the app if you haven’t recently) that basically feeds you the latest and greatest big things going on in the world, packaged in a series of tweets that tells the story (a moment). Casey Newton at The Verge explains it really well in this video.
Categories of “Moments” (Newton says to think of them as sections of a newspaper – yay!) include News, Entertainment and Sports. When I clicked Wednesday on the lightning bolt icon (presumably because this came out of something called “Project Lightning”), I was fed up these moments: the CNN Democratic debate; Lamar Odom in critical condition; These wildlife photographs are stunning; Scenes from the CMJ music marathon; Overnight violence in Burundi, Africa and a few others, all within the TODAY category.
Tap on one and then swipe through to the left to each tweet to see what various people are saying about the topic. Someone has curated these for you. I don’t follow@ChuckTodd, but his tweet about the debate is part of the Moment, as are about 45 other tweets that comprise this Moment. Some Moments only have about 10 tweets – depends on what’s going on and who has something good to say.
As a newbie Twitter user, this is helpful. You will start to see who has something valuable to say. You can start following people who you find worthy of following, simply by tapping on that person’s tweet, then clicking on the ellipses at the bottom right corner of the screen. This reveals more options, including “Follow (person’s name),” View Tweet, Share this moment, Block.
If you see a “Follow” button in Moments, that indicates something big is going on right now and you may actually want tweets about that topic to show up in your normal Twitter “Home” stream.
While the event or breaking news is happening, tweets will show up as if you are following those people. When the event is over, however, their tweets will stop showing up in your stream (unless you choose to actually follow them). This can be helpful for those times you don’t know who to follow, but want news about something going on. I haven’t seen a Moment I can follow yet, so I haven’t tested this.
For those who are comfortable using Twitter, this feature may simply serve as an easy way to see the big things happening now or today. It would be a supplement to their normal Twitter use.
But for those who are still getting their feet wet, Moments can be your primary use of Twitter until you get the feel of how to use Twitter on your own to follow local officials, politicians, educators, etc.