Twitter is saying farewell to Fleets
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Less than nine months after its introduction, Twitter has announced it is discontinuing its disappearing tweet initiative, Fleets. Why? People weren’t using it. Keen-eyed social media users noticed strong similarities between Fleets, to Snapchat and Instagram ‘stories’.
For those who don’t know, stories are a feature, originally conjured by Snapchat in 2013, for users to post a time-sensitive image, acting as a narrative for their friends and followers to view. Instagram quickly built on the success, creating their own version in 2016, with Facebook following shortly after in 2017.
Fleets were Twitter’s, albeit delayed, modified version of stories, where users could post a ‘fleeting’ thought. The idea was to increase engagement on the platform, given the ephemeral nature of the feature being less permanent and potentially damaging to users.
It’s safe to say it did not work. Perhaps not unreasonably, even the tech-savvy were preoccupied with other significant events of 2020 to catch onto the proposed trend.
And the people who were using them were already Twitter-active, essentially utilising the feature to amplify their regular tweets.
The company has openly acknowledged this setback, making a statement on July 14:
“In the time since we introduced Fleets to everyone, we haven’t seen an increase in the number of new people joining the conversation with Fleets like we hoped. Because of this, on August 3, Fleets will no longer be available on Twitter.”
Twitter then took to their own social platform to make light of the slightly embarrassing situation:
“We’re removing Fleets on August 3, working on some new stuff. We’re sorry or you’re welcome”.
What we can learn
Firstly, we must tip our hats to Twitter for taking an over-mimicked feature and modifying it into their own. We love Twitter. It’s the heartbeat of all social media which we know is trial and error, but they just missed the mark on this one.
Speed is everything when it comes to social media features and trends. Wait too long to implement an already popular feature, and people will permanently establish themselves with other platforms.
We also must acknowledge Twitter’s official and light-hearted acknowledgement of the failure, and its initiative to further research and explore more ways to engage people onto the platform. For the 10, likely distraught, tweeters who had actually used the failed feature, it’s time to move on… Twitter already has!