A Fleeting Moment: Why Twitter’s Fleets Failed

August 2nd, 2021 by

Twitter launched Fleets globally in November 2020. The ephemeral tweeting feature was created with the intention of allowing users to share their fleeting thoughts with their followers for 24 hours. 

Twitter serves as a public conversation. Users use the platform as a way to see what’s happening in the world and tweet their own thoughts and opinions. Fleets were introduced as a way to encourage users to join conversations in a less permanent way and to stop users leaving Tweets in drafts. Fleets was supposed to be a low-pressure conversation tool where users didn’t need to worry about the number of likes, RTs and replies they received.  

Similar to Instagram Stories and Snapchat Stories and the other Story-copies available on Facebook and LinkedIn, Fleets appeared at the top of the timeline in a row of bubbles. Twitter users could share text, reactions to tweets, photos and videos and customise Fleet content with different background and text options.

The Stories-clones lived at the top of a user’s timeline or on a user’s profile—viewers could tap a profile picture and be given the option to view fleets or the profile picture. Users could interact with tweets by sending DMs or reacting with an emoji. 

Story-style features have been incredibly popular on most social media platforms they have made it to. However, after just eight months, Twitter has announced that it will be removing Fleets from its features. 

Twitter revealed the decision stemmed from a lack of uptake in the feature and that as of August 3rd, it would no longer be available to use.

Twitter Fleets Failed : Socially Powerful Trend

But why did Fleets fail?

The main reason is likely to be that Twitter is a text-based app. While users are able to share photos, voice notes and videos, it’s primary use is to tweet text. The full-screen visual content was too far from Twitter’s microblogging USP and wasn’t relevant enough to its user base to become a popular feature. 

Twitter users didn’t use Fleets in the way Twitter expected them to. As mentioned, Fleets were introduced to offer users a less permanent way to start conversations. However, most users used Fleets to share images and videos, just as they would with Stories on other platforms. Consequently, Twitter has announced it is now working on a tweet composer with a full-screen camera, text options and stickers to give users the image/video based content they desire. 

Finally, Twitter users didn’t want Fleets. There are countless other features Twitter users have been demanding for years (namely, an “Edit Tweet” button), but a Story-copycat has never been on the list. This is only solidified by the fact that in January, only 7.7% of  monthly users used Fleets and a staggering 53% of users hadn’t even heard of them. 

The decision to introduce Fleets as a way to get users to tweet more suggests that the platform is struggling to get users to actually tweet instead of just scrolling through their timelines. Visual content (particularly video content) is thriving on social media currently, so it’s not surprising that Twitter wanted to take the plunge into Stories. However, Twitter seemingly forgot the most important part of introducing any new feature: listening to your audience.

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