Yesterday, Twitter announced that it would be launching a new feature called Fleets (beta testing in Brazil on iOS for now). Fleets, conceptually, are basically Twitter’s version of a Stories function and will be found by clicking on an avatar. They will be active for 24 hours, then disappear and can only be replied to via DM. The purpose is to encourage more timid Twitter users to post their drafted thoughts without the social pressure of public likes and replies.
Frankly IMO, Twitter shouldn’t even have a drafts function. As Kevin would say, send twete ya cowards.
After Twitter pushed a new stat called mDAU (Monetizable Daily Active Users) on its earnings call last month, it’s fairly clear that the platform needs more engaged users and more often. Coaxing certain users out of drafts and into the public forum through an intermediary function might boost Twitter’s active numbers.
On Instagram and Facebook, the Stories function has been fairly well used, especially on Instagram where brands and users have used it to craft different interactions than just a picture one can like. The ephemeral nature of Fleets is enticing for those looking to just dip their toe in, rather than dive head first into the deep end, which on Twitter is only four feet and the water is concrete.
So with Fleets, for users, there is less of a focus on immediate interaction. Forcing replies by DM only (similar to Instagram and Snapchat) might create a more personal feel to the interactions. Fleets will still be public, just require an extra set of taps or clicks to view and scroll through. If you follow more than a few hundred people though, it’s a feature that will likely be ignored as scrolling through that many stories on yet another social platform already sounds exhausting. Especially since it’ll mostly contain unpolished tweets.
That’s users. But what about brands? What is your brand’s Twitter Fleet strategy?
More user interactions for the purpose of serving mobile adds is great, but with a Stories-like function being added to Twitter, brands have an opportunity here to create a new sales funnel that immediately requires action. Hidden deals, cheeky contests and so on could easily be worked into Fleets. Because isn’t that what Twitter is all about? Constantly interacting with brands then posting a screenshot to Facebook?
“Some good opportunities for brands would be to use it for ways to share things that may be off-brand or some ‘internal monologue’ that doesn’t have a space on their timeline,” social strategist Moshe Isaacian tells me. “Additionally, because it doesn’t clutter the timeline, they can use it as a ‘Twitter Moment’ to string some tweets together to tell story. Lastly, it could be a great space for live tweeting without having to worry about overwhelming a follower’s feed.”
Fleets will offer brands a place for flash deals. While brands have that opportunity with Instagram Stories, brand activity is much more prevalent and interactive on Twitter. Some Twitter users have zero drafts and just tweet it all (ahem). Brands certainly have tons of drafts and often brand tweets go through several levels of approval, so it’s doubtful that Fleets will be train of thought from whomever is running the Twitter account.
Yet, there’s no reason to think that brand Fleets won’t appear to be train of thought in order to sell something. Every single brand tweet is selling something. Every time Wendy’s tweets something cheeky, that’s a psychological ping in your receptive brand-focused brain. Brands are likely holding Fleet strategy meetings right now.
Cancel culture has created a need for a safe space for draft tweets, apparently. Twitter can’t seem to ban Nazis from the platform in entirety, but it sure can create safe places to post disappearing tweets that probably shouldn’t be tweeted in the first place. Time will tell if Fleets is a successful driver in mDAUs as it will surely be a successful sales funnel for brands, assuming it reaches enough success in beta to launch wide.
Do we really need Twitter Stories, aka Fleets, layered on top of the already hyperactive and anxiety-inducing social platform we can’t tear ourselves away from? Perhaps. Perhaps we do need a place to feel a bit more temporary, after all, we tend to forget we are all just ephemera.
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