- After months of testing, Twitter introduced “Fleets,” a version of Stories which lives at the top of users' feeds and disappears after 24 hours, with no ability for public commentary or sharing
- In the first 24 hours, we’ve already seen an increase in DMs (in response to Fleets), a decrease in anonymity and a more positive vibe to the Twitter feed, so we’re likely to see this format stick
Twitter introduces Fleets with mixed reviews, but loads of early adoption
First introduced by Snapchat in 2013, copied by Instagram in 2016, and most recently duplicated by LinkedIn in 2020, Stories have now arrived in our mobile Twitter feeds. Twitter incorporated this new format for the same reasons as others, to lower the barrier to entry to participate and create, thereby increasing time spent on the platform.
As with any change, Fleets was met first with haters, with the main criticisms being:
- People questioning why the user experience is exactly the same as other platforms
- Users wondering why GIFs, stickers, lenses, music and other staples of Stories on Snapchat / Instagram aren’t replicated in the Twitter experience
- People frustrated about how glitchy the launch was
…but we’re already seeing wide-spread adoption as more experienced Twitter users dive in to create more casual conversations. As such we expect Fleets to stick.
A tactfully facilitated change to increase participation
“Instead of Tweeting, [the majority of] people follow along silently or just lurk. We see people draft tweets and don’t send them, and Fleets will create a lower-pressure way for people to join the conversation,” said Joshua Harris, Twitter’s Director of Design. Twitter’s been testing this new format for months in Brazil, Italy, South Korea, and India and they found just that - users feel more comfortable sharing and joining conversations especially because the format is familiar -- users who have posted an Instagram story already know how to post a Fleet. Further, users with access to the beta version posted more often than those who did not.
Long term, the negativity inherent in our Twitter feeds is likely to decline as Fleets are adopted. Why?
- Tactically, when users respond to a Fleet it appears in the creator’s Direct Messages. Power users are already starting to see their DMs blow up and side conversations become more vibrant and less polarized. (It’s noteworthy that brands have the ability to turn off responses to Fleets, in accordance with their traditional direct messaging settings.)
- Long-term the visual nature of Fleets will breed personalization, making people less likely to hide behind the anonymity of text-only tweets.
- Ephemerality will provide an outlet for controversial content to live that doesn’t drive back and forth arguments in-feed.
Brands who embrace Fleets will succeed
For these reasons, brands that experiment with Fleets are likely to be met with positivity, making the risk of using them low. Given the ability to repurpose content from other platforms and share tweets in Fleets, the cost to entry is low. Early adopters tend to achieve the highest reach & accolades, making the potential impact high.
Brands have already used this as a chance to showcase the behind-the-scenes of their processes, like Morning Brew’s story.