In our “Year In Review” series, the Rational 360 team looks back at social media trends from 2015 and what to expect in 2016.  This article focuses on the evolution of Twitter in 2015.

“Moments” are Captured

                 Indicated by a lightning bolt icon, Moments represented an effort by Twitter to upgrade topic-searching. Previously, users could click on a trending topic or hashtag on Twitter and see relevant content as it was updated, with Moments, Twitter has attempted to make an immersive and fleshed-out experience that allows users to catch up on and see events unfold as they occur.

                Images are preloaded, videos are automatically played, and all related content within a Moment is streamlined for quick navigation and easier sharing capabilities. 

Periscope is Launched

                Described as “a visual pulse on what’s happening now,”  Periscope is an app that allows users to broadcast live video feeds from their phone to the world. Realizing that the ability to live-stream events was an ideal complement to the micro-blogging platform, Twitter acquired Periscope in January of 2015. 

                The aim of Periscope is to take the concept of broadcasting to the next level, making it easier to access for users everywhere, and to foster a more collaborative environment. From the producers of the app themselves:

For broadcasters, Periscope lets you share an experience with others. Press a button, and instantly notify your followers that you’re live. Whether you’re witnessing your daughter’s first steps or a newsworthy event, Periscope offers an audience and the power of a shared experience. Most mobile broadcasting tools feel far from live. Broadcasters on Periscope are directly connected to their audience, able to feel their presence and interact. Going live on Periscope means more than a blinking red dot.

Although relatively new to the world, Periscope has already captured a wealth of interesting and news-breaking content, including a first-hand perspective of the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” movement in Ferguson, Missouri. The popularity of event live-streaming also led to Facebook’s implementation of a similar feature with their Live Video service.  

                Within the public affairs/communications context, Periscope could be deployed at media events, rallies, lobby days, etc., to give a broader range of users access to live events without relying on the attendance of television or radio outlets.

Character Limit is Lifted

                Though not yet touching the public side of Twitter, the character limit being removed from Direct Messages has been a major breakthrough in engagement on the website. The improvement had a major impact on the business sector, allowing increased customer service and business connections to be made over Direct Messages.

Polls are Posted

                 After Twitter rolled out the ability to post polls and track their results, users quickly came up with a wide variety of applications for the new tool. Gathering political opinions, seeking out favored sports teams, and a seemingly infinite number of “would you rather?” queries popped up on Twitter feeds everywhere. 

                Like the character limit removal on Direct Messages, this update seems to benefit those who use the platform for business or even public affairs purposes. The creation of a feature that drums up both engagement and public opinion at the same time is highly valued. 

The Future

                Just as other social media platforms cannibalize the best features of competitors, Twitter will continue to both innovate and adopt traits of other leading platforms to improve the user experience. With ‘Moments,” Twitter has forecast its intention to become a global digital town square of sorts. Streamlined organization of topics and trends has allowed users to connect with others on a highly-integrated and engaging basis as information is shared in a quicker and more detailed manner.  Though some experts expect Twitter to plateau by 2018, users should expect a continued focus on improved operating metrics and user engagement in 2016.

This is part of an ongoing series of social media year-in reviews from Rational 360.