After announcing the expansion of its Stories-like 'Fleets' option to users in Japan just last week, Twitter has quickly followed that up with a full roll-out of the function, with all users on iOS and Android to get access to Fleets over the next couple of days.
That thing you didn’t Tweet but wanted to but didn’t but got so close but then were like nah.— Twitter (@Twitter) November 17, 2020
We have a place for that now—Fleets!
Rolling out to everyone starting today. pic.twitter.com/auQAHXZMfH
So now, you can create Stories on Twitter, with a dedicated tray of Stories - sorry - Fleets bubbles along the top of your news feed, where users can share updates that disappear after 24 hours within the app.
Which, while it is indeed a copy of Stories, Twitter says will fulfill a distinct need on the platform.
Apparently, according to Twitter, many people leave many tweets in their drafts, never to see the light of day.
"Twitter’s purpose is to serve the public conversation – it’s where you go to see what's happening and talk about it. But some of you tell us that Tweeting is uncomfortable because it feels so public, so permanent, and like there's so much pressure to rack up Retweets and Likes. That’s why, unfortunately, there are so many ???? Tweets left in drafts!"
Twitter product lead Kayvon Beykpour reiterated the same in his discussion of Fleets:
"Now, more than ever, we think it’s critical to provide people another way to share what’s on their mind; without feeling self-conscious about it lasting on the record, and without the pressure of public replies. Those Tweets that never got past “Drafts” can finally see the light!"
There certainly must be a lot of draft tweets taking up room on Twitter's servers, because the company seems to believe that Fleets will fulfill this significant need, and provide a way for users to share their less popular thoughts in temporary form.
Which could be true, I guess. But really, it's just Stories, all be it in a lesser form, more aligned to Twitter use.
So, what can you 'Fleet'?
Your options are:
- Text fleets - Your basic Fleet is text on a colored background, with a range of color options for both
- Share tweets - Fleets provide a new way to share individual tweets, which also appear on a colored background
- Video or Photo - You can also post a video clip or a photo to your Fleet
That's pretty much it. There are no special effects or AR tools for Fleets, though Twitter says that stickers and live broadcasting are coming soon.
Twitter has also been working on collaborative Fleets, which appear in the Fleets row as a double-bubble display.
That's not available at launch, but it could, eventually, provide a range of new use cases for the format, including interviews, real-time highlights from events, GIF wars, etc. And for brands, it could be another way to boost your presence via influencers, partnering with well-known users to increase awareness and engagement.
As noted, that option is not available just yet, but it's an indicator of the additional potential of the option, and there may be even more interesting use cases on the horizon, which we're not seeing right away.
At launch, however, Fleets does seem a little limited. The lack of advanced creation functionality and effects tools puts it behind the other Stories options available, with the only real advantage being the top of feed presence in the app, which could help to generate interest and exposure.
That's not to say that it should be dismissed - definitely, it's worth experimenting with, and seeing how Twitter users respond. But as noted, it feels like a less interesting version of Stories right now, with not a heap to spark major interest or enthusiasm just yet.
That could change, and Twitter says that, thus far, where Fleets has been made available, users have been more open in sharing their thoughts via Fleet. So it could provide a new form of expression and openness on the platform - but it might take some time for Fleets to become a significant consideration. If it does take off.
And one last note for brands - if your DMs are open, anyone can reply to your Fleets. So if you're looking to maximize your Fleet engagement, you may need to update your DM settings.
Fleets will be rolled out to all users 'in the coming days'.