3 Ways Journalists Should Use Twitter Moments

A New Hook Into the Real-Time Social Graph

Opening Twitter Moments is a big opportunity for journalists everywhere

After much hype and a major marketing push this summer, Twitter announced it will open up its latest multimedia effort, Moments, to all users. The feature allows users to parse a series of tweets and multimedia into a collection, which can then be viewed and shared as a single story. While millions have enjoyed swiping through Moments to catch up on news and entertainment since it became an integral part of Twitter’s mobile and web apps, most will almost certainly not take advantage of the new feature on their own. As it stands now, creating a Moment is fairly labour intensive, and can only be done through a web browser on Twitter’s website. Moments is still very much a work in progress.

For journalists though, Moments presents an opportunity to capture users’ attention and imagination on the same moving canvas they already rely on daily for breaking news and information. With that in mind, here are three ways journalists should begin using Twitter Moments.

1. Break News, Collaboratively

Despite Facebook’s efforts to own breaking news with live video, Twitter is still the social network of choice for the latest stories and commentary. If the value of Twitter was ever in doubt, look no further than this weekend’s #TrumpTapes for confirmation that the national conversation is still advanced 140 characters at a time.

Moments gives journalists a new opportunity to break news by deepening the connection between the story, the conversation, and Twitter’s social graph. With Moments, not only can a journalist report a story, they can also embed commentary, links, and rich media from fellow reporters, providing a range of facts, perspectives, and opinions within a single channel, a single Moment. The 360-degree view Moments can provide, their versatility, means reporters can go deeper into a story as it unfolds on Twitter than ever before without ever leaving the social network.

2. A Billboard for Your Stories Around the Web

Crucially, once those Moments are created, they are portable. For journalists seeking to export their work to other websites or platforms where their audiences may be, this is exceptional. It means that whole stories can not only be enjoyed right with Twitter’s apps — some of the most prized web real estate there is — but they can also be ported across the web while still maintaining their deep links to Twitter and its users. Once embedded on websites or shared on other social networks, a Moment acts as its own self-contained entity, an island for news tweets in the expansive digital sea. Readers can enjoy journalists’ expertly curated content wherever they may find it. And if they choose, readers can follow the thread back to the original Moment on Twitter to continue getting more of the story right within their timelines.

3. A Living Canvas Across the World

Lastly, journalists should embrace Twitter Moments as their own unique storytelling platform. As Twitter grew as a service, it became popular for reporters, writers, and others to blast out stream-of-thought commentary in a quick succession of tweets. This allowed users to express their thoughts and observations in a way that still conformed to the 140-character limit, and their fans could easily follow the thread. These became known as tweetstorms: a new form of storytelling, completely unique to Twitter, that still remains popular.

Moments presents Twitter users with another “tweetstorm” opportunity, to reinvent storytelling in the social era. By approaching the tool’s new capabilities with a fresh eye, with the understanding that it is something completely different, journalists can tell a new kind of story. And, brilliantly, breaking news is perfectly suited for this new approach because it is a living thing. News ebbs and flows. It’s messy. Stories expand and contract as the day wears on and more people join the conversation. Twitter was already good at capturing the pulse of the public. Now Moments is poised to take reporting on the public conversation to a new level by becoming a living canvas that both adds to the story and reflects back what people are saying about it in real-time. In combination with images, GIFs, and links, Periscope and tweets and vines, Twitter Moments has a massive reach and incredible potential.

Moments still needs a lot of polish if it is to become the new central hub the company is positioning it as. But for journalists wanting to tell a story in a unique way, it presents an opportunity that should not be overlooked. With its breadth, depth, and flexibility, Twitter Moments should be an essential tool in every journalists’ arsenal to tell a great story in the social media era.

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