CommonSense Blog

Twitter Reveals ‘Project Lightning’

By Samantha Hershman | Jun 22, 2015

What’s the Big News?

We wanted to fill you in on some major ground breaking Twitter news. The news surrounds the top secret project that Twitter is currently working on which will forever change the way we look at tweets. Twitter revealed “Project Lightning,” a major new feature that will bring event-based curated content to the platform so that users can follow live events in one spot looking at handpicked high interest tweets.

While Twitter is good at quick, live updates, they don’t make it easy for users to follow along – it takes too long for users to figure out what is happening, then decide who to follow for reliable information.

So what is their solution? Develop a tab/button that lives in the center of the mobile app bar, dedicated to providing useful information to users in real time. This is Project Lightning.

How Will It Work?

Events won’t appear in the normal Twitter timeline, but rather when using the app, users can select the tab that will direct them to a live events screen. Events are considered anything that is happening that is interesting – current events, breaking news, cultural events (sporting, awards) and experiences. If people are tweeting about it – it’s an event.

When a user opens an event, they’ll be taken to a collection of tweets. This is NOT a feed, but rather a selection of tweets that have been handpicked and curated by Twitter editors, who will be packaging the tweets and content each day into stories that users will be interested in following. Twitter editors, all who have a newsroom background, will use data tools to sift through events and content to understand trends. They will place emerging news and experiences in front of users – and yes, Twitter will have guidelines for what constitutes as Project Lightning material. Twitter hopes to post seven to ten events per day for the entire Twitter audience, but the goal is to expand the data tool’s capabilities to other organizations so that they can then share information with niche demographics.

Users can also opt to follow an event directly on Twitter, which means that curated tweets will be dropped right into the timeline, which would be outside of the event tab. This does not mean that a user now follows the accounts of which the news originates, unless they choose to do this separately – when the event ends, tweets will no longer appear in a user’s feed.

What Will It Look Like?

These packages are built around images and videos, which will appear full screen and users can swipe through them, as to be fully immersed in the experience. A timeline bar across the bottom of the screen will show how far along a user is in the live event, tracking in real time.

project

The Best Part of All of This

Users can access these ‘Lightning’ events on and off Twitter! It does not matter if a user is logged in –  tweets will be viewable on Twitter.com, on the mobile web, in the Twitter app, and as embeds on other webpages. If Tweets are embedded on other webpages, the content will be updated in real time and shared live across multiple online sources.

 What it Means For Brands

Even people who do not have a Twitter account can now view event tweets! Twitter is developing a way to reach users on every platform – in real time. The collections/events will be a core part of the logged in experience, but users can easily access them from multiple sources. This will get Twitter content in front of significantly more people, which means your brand needs to stand out to be pushed in front of the right audiences. It won’t matter how many people are logged in to Twitter, but what will matter is how you present your content so that people see your tweets.

It is crucial that brands share strong, unique content to drive engagement, which means the need for rich, creative images and videos is important in every tweet. With this new update, brands will also want to revisit their current social strategies, as the urgency for agile and timely approvals on content will be imperative to real time event progression. This isn’t a feature that you can take your time with – you’ll need to be part of the conversation as it hits. Community Managers should also be following these Lightning events as well, tracking live conversation and then producing quick ad-hoc content to turnaround for live sharing. In addition, paid media will largely contribute to your content exposure in real time. Promoted Tweets give your brand exposure and magnify your content reach, which with Project Lightning, will translate into users both on and off of Twitter.  This is big!

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