How Fleets Will Change Twitter As We Know It

To Fleet or not to Fleet

  • Twitter rolled out its own 'Stories' feature called Fleets this week that only lasts for 24 hours. 
  • The feature has already been integrated by Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and, of course, Snapchat. 
  • Experts say there are some benefits to using Fleets on Twitter, especially since they are not permanent.
The microblogging social network Twitter logo is displayed on the screen of a smartphone.
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A new feature called Fleets debuted for Twitter users in the U.S. this week, and although it’s essentially the same "Stories" feature we’ve seen across various social network platforms, experts say it will change Twitter as we know it. 

Fleets are advertised as text reactions to Tweets, photos, or videos that last only 24 hours. If this sounds familiar to you, it's because Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Snapchat have similar features. However, Twitter's entrance into the "Stories" feature club promises to be unique from other platforms, thanks to Twitter's microblogging-centric setup.   

"I think it’ll be interesting to see how they evolve this feature differently than Instagram and Facebook," said William Lai, the chief product officer at IAS Machine in Seattle, in a direct message.

Why Fleets? 

Twitter describes Fleets as a "lower pressure way for people to talk about what’s happening." The feature was tested in Brazil, Italy, India, and South Korea over recent months and received positive feedback from users. 

"Those new to Twitter found Fleets to be an easier way to share what's on their mind," wrote Design Director Joshua Harris and Project Manager Sam Haveson in Twitter’s official blog post announcement of the new feature. "Because they disappear from view after a day, Fleets helped people feel more comfortable sharing personal and casual thoughts, opinions, and feelings."

A young person using a smartphone while setting on a couch at home.
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Just like Facebook and Instagram, Fleets appears at the top of your Twitter feed as little circles you can click on, posted by your followers. So far, people have been sharing their pets, behind-the-scenes takes, what they’re eating, and even their own Tweets to make them more noticeable in the never-ending Twitter scroll. 

Experts like Lai believe this unending scroll setup Twitter has will suit the feature more than competitors like Facebook and Instagram. 

"I do think this kind of ephemeral posts can fit in Twitter's zeitgeist better than Facebook," he said. "We are all used to having the Twitter feed be such a fire hose—you can never consume everything on Twitter to begin with."

Should You Tweet or Fleet?

If Twitter is your go-to social network, the addition of Fleets will shake up the experience you’re used to, but experts say there are some benefits to content that’s only up for 24 hours. 

"I do think that people are increasingly conscious of the long tail history of everything they post online, particularly if you are a public person (or will be one day) and having people dig up some stupid stuff you said a decade ago....well nobody wants that," Lai said. 

Since Twitter is very much word-centric, it will be a different experience to see more photos and videos of your followers who, until now, you’ve only known based on 280 characters or less. 

Tweet button on a keyboard.
Peter Dazeley / Getty Images 

Others say Fleets will emphasize the Tweets you really want to be seen since you can integrate a Tweet within a Fleet. Codi Dantu-Johnson, a social media specialist at a public university in San Diego. "I saw that I had over 100 people view my Fleets, so I think it’s going to be helpful in the amplification sense," she told Lifewire in a phone interview. "Especially for brand use, Fleets will be great for promoting new services or new products." 

Still, Dantu-Johnson said that she believes the uniformity in features between social network platforms could cause social media fatigue since there are fewer and fewer things that make these platforms stand out these days. 

"I think uniformity is not always the best, at least for social media. I liked the fact that there was uniqueness in each platform," Dantu-Johnson said. "It leaves the user in this space where they have to decide where and what should I update." 

Whether you’re onboard the Fleets train or not, expect it to shake up your Twitter experience for better or for worse. Still, you can always choose to skip Fleets altogether and stick to a good ol’ fashioned Tweet.

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