A decade after its launch there’s no doubt that Twitter has emerged as one of the ruling kings of social media. It was no surprise then, that everyone at Mokriya was excited to join forces to create a brand new app called Twitter Challenger.

Celebrity Apps

Twitter has had great success in attracting influencers (including star athletes, actors, musicians, and politicians) to its platform.

For example, President Barack Obama set the Guinness World Record last year for fastest time to amass one million Twitter followers — clocking in at just under five hours after creating his @POTUS account in May 2015.

Twitter Challenger app POTUS first tweet

Obama’s victory was short-lived, however. His record was shattered only two weeks later when Caitlyn Jenner (@Caitlyn_Jenner) shaved nearly an hour off the president’s time. Achieving the milestone in just over four hours.

Twitter provides a significant platform to provide these influential users with new ways to connect with their fans.

As TechCrunch reporter Lucas Matney put it:

“Twitter has never forgotten the power that its influencers possess, though they often haven’t utilized their sway as successfully as they could. Twitter is now looking to give its A-list celebrities better tools to show their fans love while conveying their own #personalbrands on the site.”

Engaging VIPs on the Red Carpet (and Beyond)

When it came to developing these new tools for VIP users, Twitter focused its attention on major live events like the Golden Globes and Teen Choice Awards.

Ever since celebrities first began joining Twitter, VIPs have utilized the service to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at awards shows, sporting events, film premieres, and more.

But Twitter wanted to do more to provide influencers with a specific and direct way to interact with fans during live events. The company took a major step toward accomplishing this goal when it released Twitter Mirror in 2013.

Twitter Challenger app Twitter Mirror

(Image Credit: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP/Associated Press via Mashable)

Twitter Mirror enabled celebrities to snap selfies on the red carpet and instantly share them via the social media platform. It also made for some pretty amusing photo bombs.

Twitter Mirror provided influential users with a quick way to post tweets at major live events. But the app still didn’t achieve the level of engagement between VIPs and fans that was possible with further development.

Enter Twitter Challenger

The solution? The Twitter Challenger app.

As Mashable’s Saba Hamedy explained, Twitter Challenger is “sort of a re-invention of the Twitter Mirror, this time designed to give fans the chance to challenge celebrities to do certain tasks.”

More specifically, Twitter Challenger is an app for major live events that allows VIP users to participate in custom “Twitter Challenges.” It’s designed to capture fun and creative photos, gifs, and videos to share with fans, with the purpose of increasing exposure and engagement.

Below is a quick example: Celebrities attending the 2015 Teen Choice Awards were asked to show off their best Whip/Nae Nae dance moves.

Twitter Challenger app Tean Choice Awards

(Image via Twitter )

Our Approach To Building The App

The Twitter team came up with the concept of Twitter Challenger and turned to Mokriya to help design and build the app.

One of the benefits of hiring a studio like Mokriya is that we can immediately put together an experienced team with skills tailored to the specific project. For Twitter Challenger, we formed a project team that included an experienced UX lead and and an experienced iOS Developer to begin working on the app without delay.

At its core, the app had to be super simple and intuitive to use without any onboarding friction. This was essential as users would need to operate the app on-cue and in the moment.

To tackle this challenge, we began lots of back and forth dialogue between us and the Twitter team to brainstorm various ideas we could try. This helped us to take all the perspectives into account before we began design and development.

The End Product

The final product took the form of an iPad app, which has two user-modes: one for event hosts and one for event attendees (a.k.a. celebrities and other VIPs).

For Event Hosts

Let’s say you’re part of the social media team behind a major sporting event, film premiere, or awards show and want to set up a Twitter Challenge to encourage influential attendees to create and share unique content during the event.

The first step upon launching the Twitter Challenger app is to set up the challenge for your event, including entering your event details, choosing the type of challenge (photo, video, etc.), and potentially creating an attendee list to make it easier for VIPs to tag one another in their posts.

One of the key elements that hosts should consider is the “Event Title,” which will become the hashtag that gets added to all tweets posted as part of the challenge. The event title hashtag will also appear as a watermark that is added automatically to all images, gifs, and videos created and shared via the app. (Note the #TeenChoice hashtag in the example above.)

The most important step, of course, is creating the challenge itself. The best ones are designed to give celebrities a chance to shine in ways that are simply not possible through photos alone, but also don’t feel canned like a “traditional” Q & A.

In order to ensure maximum creativity, we added a feature that allows hosts to import custom stickers from a linked Dropbox account, which event attendees can then choose to add to their #twitterchallenger content.

Twitter Challenger app Stickers feature

For Event Attendees

For influential Twitter users attending the live event, the goal was to make the app as easy to use as possible, while also providing the ability to customize #twitterchallenger content in order to match the VIP’s personal brand.

From a functional perspective, the app allows users to select which challenge they’d like to participate in, respond to the chosen challenge by creating a photo, gif, or video, and then share the finished product with their followers directly from the app.

From a creative perspective, the app allows celebrities to customize their posts with the afore-mentioned stickers, as well as various drawing tools and filters.

Twitter Challenger app Drawing featureTwitter Challenger app Filters feature

Before sharing the post, users can also preview and edit the auto-generated tweet text, as well as tag fellow celebrities who joined them in completing the challenge.

The Challenges of Building Twitter Challenger

When it comes to building an app for a top enterprise client like Twitter, which will be used by megawatt VIPs, you can bet that there are a few obstacles to overcome.

The event attendee user-mode had to be super simple and obvious to use because the VIP would most likely just be walking by on the red carpet or at an after party and need to be able to operate the app quickly and with little-to-no instruction.

Including a UX designer as part of the core team was critical to ensuring the app met these expectations regarding ease of use and overall user experience.

There was also enhanced pressure to ensure the app was stable and did not ever lose content because the event hosts would not reasonably be able to ask the influencer to re-do the Twitter Challenge.

In order to overcome this potential obstacle the team built in a process whereby all media is saved directly to the device’s camera roll, whether there is an Internet connection or not.

Twitter Challenger’s Initial Impact

The Twitter Challenger app had a splashy launch back in January, receiving positive press coverage from the likes of TechCrunch, Mashable, and Digital Trends.

The app debuted in time for the 2016 Golden Globe Awards and has since been used at sporting events and major political events (including the White House Correspondents’ Dinner), in addition to awards shows.

To view even more examples of the app in action, simply check out the #twitterchallenger hashtag on Twitter.

About Luke Ryan

Luke leads Marketing at Mokriya and writes about people, culture and projects. Native Australian. Currently residing in Stockholm, Sweden.