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Project Lightning and Power Users

Twitter is set to launch something called Project Lightning. This is a new product feature that will provide curated tweets to users. This will formalise Twitter as a place to go to for breaking news. It is already that place, but we can expect more features around this.

This is an interesting case study that we can learn from.

A lot of products take the approach of identifying their power users, understanding their usage patterns and try making these features more attractive to the rest of the users. The approach is directed towards converting more users to power users.

But a lot of the time, we try to figure out how to get other users to be like power users and how to get them to do the same things that the power users are doing. Instead, we need to look at power users as the ones doing the heavy-lifting for us. These users are figuring out the best ways to derive value from our product despite the product itself not doing it for them. But a lot of users are too lazy to do this and will either stop using the product or won't be advocates of the product. The debate should be around how to get these users to be advocates of the product as well.

And this is exactly what Twitter seems to be doing with Project Lightning.

I'm not a power user of Twitter, but I know a few who have spent enough time figuring out the right accounts to follow, retweeting and favouriting tweets they like, opening links they like that they come across in tweets, so they can derive good value out of their time on Twitter. But there are plenty of non-power users like me who haven't taken the time to figure out who to follow and hence might see a lot of unrelated tweets on their stream.

Twitter doesn't have much data about us non-power users to customize the product to our liking. However, we are still users because it is a platform to go to for discovering news, articles, among other things. So, it has decided to do what the media houses are doing and start curating this information for users from different demographics. This way, the power users will continue to remain power users and more users can potentially be power users as there is lesser effort on their part to derive value from Twitter.

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