8 months after global roll out, Twitter expires its Fleets function

Twitter is removing its Fleets feature, less than a year after it was introduced earlier in November.  In a Tweet posted on the Twitter official account today, Twitter announced that Fleets will no longer be available, with effect from 3 August.

In a blogpost, the head of product, brand and video ads at Twitter, Ilya Brown, said that the top of the timeline still remains as a “good spot to highlight what’s happening right now”, and therefore will replace the space with its live audio chat rooms Spaces. Brown also added that Twitter will be testing updates to the Tweet composer for regular Tweets, incorporating features from the Fleets composer such as the full-screen camera, text formatting options, and GIF stickers.

According to Twitter, Fleets were introduced as a way to regulate some of the anxieties that hold people back from Tweeting. However, instead of encouraging more people who did not Tweet often to “join in the conversation”, Twitter said that Fleets are mostly used by people who are already Tweeting to amplify their own Tweets and talk directly with others. Twitter thus said it will “explore more ways to address what holds people back from participating on Twitter”. 

In addition to the low uptake rate, Twitter’s Fleets were also met with generally lukewarm response and some criticism, with users claiming that it simply ripped off Instagram Stories and Snapchat. 

Just last month in June, Twitter experimented with Fleet ads, which “brought full-screen, vertical format ads to Twitter for the first time”. Fleet ads supported images and video in 9:16, and supported up to 30-seconds of video content. Brands could also add a “swipe-up” call-to-action, which allowed brands to use Fleets in “thoughtful and creative ways”, according to Twitter. For Fleets ads, advertisers would get standard Twitter Ads metrics including impressions, profile visits, clicks, website visits, and more. If the creative was a video, Twitter would share reports on video views, starts, completes, quartile reporting, among others. The axing of Fleets therefore is a sudden but unsurprising move. Twitter declined to comment on the previous brands who have used Fleets and the average monetary investment by brands.

Twitter’s product lead, Kayvon Beykpour, said in a Twitter thread that Fleets was a “big bet”, and that Twitter would not be “taking big enough swings” if it did not wind down features once in a while.

 

Twitter launched its "Fleets" feature globally in November, since it first tested in its Brazil market in March 2020. According to the social media platform, Fleets are for sharing momentary thoughts. They help start conversations and only stick around for 24 hours. 

Twitter launched Fleets after it received positive engagements through its tests in Brazil, Italy, India, and South Korea. Twitter said that it saw users with Fleets conversing more on the platform. Due to Fleets' temporal nature, Twitter said it helped users feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts, opinions, and feelings.  

In a statement to MARKETING-INTERACTIVE then, a Twitter spokesperson explained how the concept came about. "We know tweeting can be intimidating, because tweets are public and forever. There's also the feeling that a good tweet has to have a lot of likes, retweets, and replies. But, there are fleeting thoughts everyone has throughout the day, those “felt cute, might delete later,” moments that you want to share but you don’t want to put too much thought or effort into. The team started to refer to these fleeting thoughts as Fleets and we went with it," the spokesperson said. 

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