Twitter has been my main source of news for several years now, and I’m sure it has been for many millions of others. It’s especially good when you want to get live coverage of an important event, a viral dress phenomenon, or simply a worldwide news story. Not only that, but one of the many reasons I prefer Twitter over other social networks like Facebook or Google+ is that it’s much easier to interact with other people, especially for a famous celebrity for example; there will always be a much deeper connection between a celebrity’s Twitter followers than with his or her Facebook followers. One of Twitter’s biggest challenge however, has been growing its userbase. 300 million active users doesn’t seem bad at first, but if you compare it to social networks like Facebook, which has over a billion active users every single month, you start feeling a little left behind. The problem is that many people don’t know how to use Twitter very well, and it is in fact a little complicated if you want to use it as your main source of news for everything. You have to know what accounts to follow for the best news experience, which celebrities tweet funny and interesting things in a regular basis, and which hashtags to use and search for during an important event, if you even know what a hashtag is and how it works.
Project Lightning is looking to solve that in a very clever way. It will bring event-based curated content to Twitter, instantly loading immersive photos and videos and having the ability to embed those experiences across the Web and even in other apps.
says Kevin Weil, who runs product for the company.
And that’s what Twitter needs. A bold but clever change that will catch the attention of the non-tech-savvy-social network-geek population.
On its mobile app, there will be a new button in the center of the home row. If you press it you’ll be taken to a screen that will show various events taking place that people are tweeting about. They could be large sports events like the Super Bowl, it could be famous music events like the Grammys, or it could simply be breaking news stories like natural disasters around the world.
You’ll be able to follow these events and it will show you a collection of the best tweets including photos and videos selected by a team of editors working under Katie Jacobs Stanton, who runs Twitter’s global media operations, choosing the most relevant content being tweeted by news accounts, celebrities, or users in general without necessarily having to follow those accounts. If you are a Twitter user you can opt to have an event blended into your timeline. When the event ends, the tweets of those who you don’t follow will stop showing on your timeline.
What’s great about Project Lightning is that you don’t have to be a Twitter user or be logged in in order to follow these events. You’ll be able to view them on Twitter.com, its mobile app, and even as embeds on other websites in real time. What Twitter wants to accomplish first of all is to get tweets in front of many more eyes. Then, those eyes that see the embedded event tweets on other websites and apps will hopefully join Twitter later on and help grow the userbase.
“We’ve seen in the past that we have so much conversation around events,” Stanton explains. “The Oscars, or the NBA Finals. Breaking news events like Ferguson. Memes like Alex From Target. … But the challenge we’ve had over the years is, although we have the world’s greatest content, it’s like having a television without a channel guide or even a remote control. There’s no way to really find it or contextualize that content. So [Project Lightning] is this beautiful vessel for us to surface great content and make it more delightful.”
Project Lighting still has a few months to go until it’s ready to roll out, but in the meantime we can agree that it is a much needed feature that will let people who are not hardcore Twitter users, or not even users at all, feed from all the real-time information Twitter provides.
Source: Buzzfeed News