Actress Leslie Jones has been tweeting about the Olympics, and it’s been ... gold. She’s funny and exciting and offers authentic analysis from what we can only imagine is her living-room sofa.
She’s the commentator Twitter and the Olympics need, but certainly not the one they deserve. (See: Jones bullied off of Twitter just last month.) Which is why, after seeing her tweets over the weekend, NBC Olympics executive producer Jim Bell invited Jones to Rio via a public tweet, a smart PR move that will no doubt leave execs at both companies asking "why didn't we think of this earlier?"
That interaction leaves us asking something else, though: How can Twitter better highlight the value Leslie Jones is already adding to Twitter, especially as it makes forays into digital TV streaming?
Twitter is at its best when its most interesting users are tweeting authentically. That means people like Jones getting psyched over the Olympics, Taylor Swift beefing publicly with Kanye and Kim, and Steph Curry's wife ripping the refs during the NBA Finals.
How valuable is someone like Jones tweeting about the Olympics? Well, she’s including video highlights in almost every one of her tweets, a move that would usually trigger some kind of removal request from NBC, which has exclusive rights to all Olympics video. So we can assume people of her caliber, tweeting and talking up the games, is good for NBC’s coverage.
Row row row your boat gently down the stream? pic.twitter.com/OL8SAtElyN— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) August 8, 2016
Which brings us back to Twitter. The fact that it’s acquired streaming rights to some NFL games this fall — who cares? That is, unless the company can pair those streams with the best tweets from the most interesting people. That's what makes Twitter unique, not the rights to show you football games you can watch other places online.
This is not a new idea. Twitter is already trying to do this with Moments, collections of event-specific tweets it first unveiled last fall to a lot of hype (most of it drummed up by the company itself). It’s also why Twitter is testing an algorithmic timeline, à la Facebook, to make sure you see good tweets that were posted while you were doing other things outside of the app.
But none of this seems to have jumpstarted Twitter’s user growth or revenue, which goes to show that finding and highlighting the Joneses of the world isn't easy. Maybe Twitter should simply send Jones, and other influential users like her, to the games it broadcasts. Maybe the key is to get its best users at events, instead of trying to get video of events in front of its users.
Whatever the formula is, Twitter needs to figure it out. Because I can watch NFL football a lot of different places. And Twitter knows that.
Jones, meanwhile, is still debating whether she’ll go to Rio.
So the question is....should I go? Hmmm— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) August 8, 2016
Yes, Leslie! Yes!
Update: Jones is headed to Rio. NBC issued a press release Monday night that says Jones will join NBC's crew on Friday as a contributor covering the games. "Jones will attend live Olympic events, meet athletes, and spread her enthusiasm for the Olympics on-air and online during NBC Olympics' coverage of Rio 2016," the release reads.
Moral of the story: If you tweet enough, NBC will fly you to the Olympics! (Or something like that...)
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This article originally appeared on Recode.net.