Following the success of Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories, Snapchat, and now LinkedIn Stories, Twitter finally launched its own story feature. It’s called Twitter Fleets. The launch of Twitter Fleets comes after a successful pilot that began nine months ago. In March, Twitter started testing the feature in Brazil and continued to add other countries to its pilot until introducing the feature in the US But how does Fleets work and how could your brand leverage it in your marketing strategy? We will walk you through everything we know so far.
<h2>What are Twitter fleets?</h2> Fleets are temporary tweets that look like vertical Instagram stories. This content disappears after 24 hours and cannot be retweeted, publicly replied, or embedded on other pages. Fleets, or fleeting tweets, are similar to Instagram Stories. Similar to the Instagram layout, Twitter users who have fleets will see a bar with circular icons of stories from each account above their Twitter account.
From their home page, a user can tap a circular Fleet icon to see what an account posted in their Fleet area. Unlike tweets, posted text, video, or photo is displayed in a vertical format, similar to Instagram Stories. But, if you like the Tweet format, you can also share one in a Fleet to get more attention, like McDonalds does below:
How to use Twitter fleets
1. Touch the circle with your face on the Fleet bar.
Like Instagram and LinkedIn Stories, the Fleet bar is above your feed and your Fleet icon will be on the right hand side, as seen in the first screenshot above.
2. Create your content.
Also similar to other story platforms, you will see a simple camera screen where you can take a photo, film a video, upload content from your camera roll, or create a Fleet with a basic background color and a text comment.
3. Add text and descriptions.
Once you’ve designated your content, you can tap “Aa” to add text, the color icon to change the text color, or the ALT icon to add an alternative text description for those with screen readers.
4. Publish your fleet.
When you’re done, simply tap “Fleet” in the upper right corner to post what you’ve created.
The motivation behind the Twitter fleets
Because you float disappear after 24 hoursLike Instagram Stories, Twitter says its goal is to see if its ephemeral content will promote deeper, personal conversations on the platform. To make fleets even more “personal”, other users cannot retweet or share the link. Twitter users can also only reply to Fleets through direct messages. When Twitter started its Fleet pilot, the company surveyed some of the early beta testers. How expected, the majority of those who used Fleets said they were more comfortable posting more personal thoughts or opinions than they would in standard tweets. This was because users knew that this content would eventually disappear. “We hope that people who are not normally comfortable with tweeting will use Fleet to talk about the reflections that come to mind,” said Mo Al Adham, a Twitter product manager, on Twitter announcement. Twitter Fleets also signifies another move that social media platforms are making to embrace ephemeral content. While the disappearance of videos, texts, and Stories may have sounded like gimmicks in the early days of social media, ephemeral content features are becoming increasingly common in today’s online landscape. Although fleets may not be at the center of branding strategies yet, you can still begin to identify potential ephemeral content that could ultimately work on the platform. Here are some commonly used short-lived tactics that could increase brand awareness in Twitter fleets.
How Brands Could Use Twitter Fleets
1. Publication of offers for a limited time
Do you want to sell a large quantity of a product quickly? Or offer a promotion to your most engaged Twitter followers? A great way to do both could be to use Fleet to promote temporary sales, deals, or coupon codes. Since fleets only last 24 hours, users will not be able to find codes or promotions forever. That could mean that these audiences may feel a sense of urgency to make a purchase, use a certain coupon code, or simply visit your website to learn more about your product.
2. Organize daily giveaways
In addition to posting about short-term sales and coupon codes, Story’s Fleets and other platforms could be great places to promote giveaways. With a platform similar to Story, you can include more text, videos and photos about the products you are giving away and explain the rules of your giveaway on multiple pages. While you can announce a giveaway in standard tweets, all of this information may need to be posted across multiple posts or in one thread due to Twitter’s character count limitations. And, because the Twitter feed is so fast, you will likely need to post more than once to get a large number of contest entries in a limited time. With a platform like Fleets, not only will you be able to post multiple pages of tweets to the same Fleet story, but your content will also appear in the Fleets area above a user’s feed. This could mean that there is less risk of your contest announcement being buried by tweets from other accounts. Also, because the fleets and stories only last 24 hours, viewers can feel a sense of urgency. As with coupons or sales, the public may want to enter your contest, see your full story, or go to your website before the Fleet disappears. To give you a little more inspiration, here is an example of a contest a brand once ran on Instagram Stories:
3. Adoption of live events on social media
Do you want to take advantage of live events or short-term news in your social media marketing strategy without clogging your Twitter profile? Consider covering the event with short-lived content. That way, when the event ends, users focus back on your brand and overall business. In this example below, the NBA’s Instagram Story featured coverage of the Toronto Raptors Parade in Ontario, Canada. At this point in the story, a member of the Raptors team took selfies with rapper Drake.
4. Interaction with loyal fans
While Twitter’s highly public platform already provides brands with plenty of opportunities to directly find and interact with fans, Fleets could be a useful tool for this as well. In Instagram and Facebook Stories, you may see content where brands ask users to submit questions or content. A brand can then create a story with user-generated quotes, images, or videos. This tactic makes participating users feel like the brand cares about their thoughts. Meanwhile, an interactive story like this allows other audiences to see that the brand appreciates its most engaged followers. In addition to question-and-answer interactions, you can also go one step further by publishing Fleets with user-generated content from customers or fans. One brand that does this frequently on Instagram Stories and Facebook is Planet Fitness. Featured in the story below are fitness trip photos sent to them by their real customers – this story not only allows loyal Planet Fitness fans to contribute to the brand’s social media content, it also allows Prospects see how real people have benefited from the gym’s services.
5. Offering content behind the scenes
Most of us know that people love to see behind-the-scenes content from celebrities, athletes, and influencers on Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories, and Snapchat. But research shows that consumers also enjoy behind-the-scenes material from brands. While tweets offer brands a platform to create quick, well-written posts or post heavy content, Fleets could allow brands to show the public behind-the-scenes content or information that makes them appear more authentic and easy to identify. This is something we’ve seen brands do frequently in their Instagram Temporary Stories. In the story below, New England-based Caffe Nero highlights a Barista of the Year competition that it holds with its staff each year. The story highlights how Caffe Nero baristas are dedicated to serving customers and shows an authentic piece of the restaurant’s corporate culture that many customers may not be aware of.
5. Inform the public about complex industry issues
When you create a tweet, you must summarize your message in 280 characters or start a thread. But with Fleet or other Social Media Stories, you can add more information or insights with photos, videos, or multiple pages of text. This could allow brands to offer Twitter users a more robust variation of valuable, easy-to-create content that is not limited to small tweets, expensive marketing videos, or time-consuming live broadcasts. Here’s an example of how HubSpot breaks down more complex industry topics through Instagram Stories. While you may not be able to add the same level of images to Fleets content, you could take advantage of multiple pages of text in a similar way.
Browse ephemeral content
Can disappearing content really leave an impression? Well, if Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have taught us anything, the answer to that question is “Yes!” While ephemeral platforms are an exciting new opportunity, it takes creativity and brainstorming to create content that engages your audience in a memorable way. To better familiarize yourself with the key ephemeral content tips and strategies, check out this content type introduction. Then, learn more about how top brands are leveraging current ephemeral platforms like Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories, and Snapchat. Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published to cover the Twitter Fleets pilot in May 2020, but was updated in November 2020 to provide more breadth and freshness.