or: How not everyone can be a creator but definitely can be a consumer.

Social networking sites thrive on user-generated content (UGC). Content created when someone posts an update, picture, article, etc. At the early stages of the service the site’s main objective is user acquisition. These early users are content creators whose intrinsic motivation is to partake in the social media platform in some way. The cost is very little for this social incentive that gives rise to vital growth for the company.

As the site matures, top contributors and influencers emerge through the accumulation of users. A plateau forms as the majority of content creators have been attracted and user acquisition slows. The next phase of evolution in scaling the community is to start opening the content stream to non-users and start creating content consumers. Sort of like a broadcast model, similar to how one turns on a tv or radio and receives content without much effort. Let’s review some main pages of past and present UGC sites:

Good examples of exposing content for consumption can be seen from sites like Vine (retired), YouTube, Periscope, and Medium. The similarities that they share are content search and offering categories/channels for visitors to consume.

In comparison with Tumblr and TikTok, these sites make signing up/downloading more prominent but offer the visitor to consume trending content.

Finally, the main emphasis for Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter are user sign up/log in with little or no exposure of what these sites have to offer to a visitor. Let’s tune into Twitter a bit, recently they launched a redesign of their website but surprisingly, their main page stayed the same. Some of the highlights of the redesign, was exposing lists and bookmarks as primary features to users. Lists can be great way for visitors to consume Twitter content without having to sign in or sign up.

To explore this more I present Twists (Twitter + Lists) as an approach that can be implemented on Twitter’s main page.

What’s a Twist? It’s a portmanteau; combining Twitter and List. Twists makes it easier to consume popular lists on Twitter without having to sign up or sign in. So, choose your favorite topics and enjoy!

Lists were collected and collated under topics so a visitor may choose what interests them and start consuming Twitter’s UGC. Twists’ main goals were to:

  1. Reduce friction by removing the service’s audience gatekeeper (sign up/log in) and greet visitors with top content that should be easy to consume.
  2. Encourage visitor engagement and the likeliness that they will share content.

Twitter’s approach could be this and more. For instance, allowing visitors to follow users and create their own lists without ever needing to sign up can be done by saving all their choices locally. A call to action can be shown to tell the visitor what they are missing out on (commenting, liking, shared data with devices and browsers, etc.) if they don’t sign up. Another benefit of this approach is for privacy minded visitors that would allow them to consume content under anonymity.

Anyway, take Twists for a drive. Add it to your ‘Home Screen’ if you are so inclined. If you genuinely find it useful and would like to support it, please head over to Patreon. It is far from perfect but feel free to suggest topics or lists @twists_app or email: twists.web.app@gmail.com. I would love to hear what you think!

Daydreaming night owl, giver of unsolicited advice, software engineer by passion, always learning and ever living...