What to Know About Twitter’s New Fleet Tool

by | Apr 5, 2020 | Uncategorized

Twitter recently announced it will be jumping on the temporary story-telling bandwagon with its new feature, Fleet. Fleet, named to remind us of a fleeting moment, will be a brief story that users won’t be able to react to and will disappear after a certain length of time. If that sounds familiar, then you’re probably active on SnapChat (this is the model for their entire platform) or Facebook and Instagram, which both have a similar feature called “Stories.”

For Twitter, these stories won’t be public and will be less accessible than actual tweets. For instance, you can check out someone’s public profile, then tap to view their Fleets – even if you aren’t one of their followers. However, Fleets won’t show up in a search or in “Moments,” and they can’t be embedded to share on an external website. They also won’t circulate on the Twitter platform. 

A New Option for Twitter Users

If all this sounds a little unlike your traditional Twitter format, well, it is. Many people – even those who are avid social media sharers – avoid the very public nature of Twitter’s platform, perhaps falling for the privacy that platforms like Facebook promise (but aren’t really that great at maintaining). The advent of Fleet is an attempt to address that aspect of Twitter that has kept many users away, bringing in more users to the already crowded social media sphere.  

Keyvon Beykpour, VP of product for Twitter, explains that this is really about offering users more control. This way, users can control the “conversation space,” as Suzanne Xie, Head of Conversation for the platform, describes it. 

What Fleet Means for Social Media Marketing

One question that surrounds this new development is whether Twitter is simply too late to the party. Social media platforms from YouTube to WhatsApp have a version of this, so what makes Fleet unique enough from those platforms to draw in new users?

We’re still waiting for the rollout to know the answer, but it will likely offer something new for social media marketers to play with. However, Twitter has, at least until now, created a very specific niche for users that is different from what any other platform offers. They will be trading on a brand identity that applauds a very public face for one that will now offer a kind of anonymity. 

Privacy vs Platform Freedom

As a user – both for personal applications and for business – it’s hard to see a space or need for this new feature, but Twitter has surprised us all before. Twitter remains successful as an anti-Facebook option, so becoming more Facebook-like seems anti-productive. Twitter has set itself apart by not being all kittens and rainbows. While echo chambers certainly exist there, the platform has worked against the kind of fake news that has dominated Facebook, and its integrity definitely took a hit. 

Of course, it’s a leap to suggest that just because Twitter is investing in a feature like Facebook’s stories that it is becoming more like Facebook in terms of data privacy,  but that’s what these stories are trying to control. 

Whether you’re navigating social media for your personal use or as part of your content marketing strategy, understanding how the platforms are using your data and what level of privacy you have is crucial. Time will tell how effective this new feature is on Twitter and how much time businesses are willing to invest in another “story.”

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Kimberlee Henry