6th March 2020

POV: Twitter Tests 'Fleets'

Background:

Twitter has announced that is it testing ephemeral tweets, named ‘Fleets’, in Brazil with the view to potentially roll out globally in a few months. Twitter is one of the last major social media platforms to test out a Stories format.

Details and Implications:

‘Fleets’, Twitter’s version of ‘Stories’, will allow users to post up to 280 characters of text, add photos, videos and GIFS to a post that will disappear after 24 hours – similar to the Stories approach on other social media platforms. Fleets will not be able to receive likes, replies or retweets but users will be able to respond and react using emojis via direct message (if this is enabled), similar to Instagram Stories for example.

In these early testing stages the content offering is limited and reflects Twitter’s text-centric nature. However, last month, Twitter bought Chroma Labs, the Stories photo and video editing start-up co-founded by ex-Facebook and Instagram employees, so ‘Fleets’ could be quickly upgraded.

Since it began in 2006, Twitter has focused on its core product. The testing of Fleets suggest that Twitter is attempting to diversify its product with the new offering encouraging a different kind of sharing and engagement.

The offering will allow users to share thoughts in a less public manner as Fleets won’t circulate Twitter’s network, show up in search or moments and can’t be embedded externally. They will appear, however, as rounded profile icons on the top of users’ timelines. To view the multiple Fleets a user has posted, users will have to swipe down instead of horizontally, which is the case on most other Story models. This may be difficult for users to get used to initially.

To determine which Fleets appear first, Twitter will use recency and mutual follows as a basis for now. In comparison to other social media platforms, people often follow thousands of accounts on Twitter, so this element of Fleets is a challenge. It may mean that brands will see less in engagement in Fleets to begin with whilst Twitter determines the best algorithm for the feature.

Despite this, brands with large Twitter followings will have a new way to connect to their audiences. Video will also be a big feature, the standard user will be allowed to upload video content up to 2:20 in length or up to 512MB and whitelisted accounts will be able to post videos that are up to 10 minutes long – giving potential for Twitter to become the latest platform for video.

Summary:

If testing in Brazil is successful, Twitter will decide whether to expand to other global markets or not. As far as brands are concerned, if the platform already works for them and they have available assets, it may be worth a try in order to connect with audiences in a new way. 

Further Reading:

Tech Crunch | The Verge | Social Media Today | AdAge

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