After the success of Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories, Snapchat and now LinkedIn Stories, Twitter has finally released its own story feature.
It’s called Twitter Fleets.
Twitter Fleets launches following a successful pilot that began nine months ago. In March, Twitter began testing the feature in Brazil, adding more countries to its pilot project until the feature was launched in the US.
But how does Fleets work and how could your brand use this in your marketing strategy? We’ll walk you through everything we know so far.
What are Twitter Fleets?
Fleets are temporary tweets that look like vertical Instagram stories. This content disappears after 24 hours and cannot be retweeted, answered publicly or embedded on other pages.
Quick or fleeting tweets are similar to Instagram Stories. As with Instagram’s layout, Twitter users with Fleets will see a bar of circular story icons on each account above their Twitter feed.
On their homepage, a user can tap a circular fleet icon to see what an account has posted in their fleet area.
Unlike tweets, the published text, video, or photo is displayed in a vertical format, similar to Instagram Stories. If you like the tweet format, you can also share a format in a fleet to get more attention, like McDonalds does below:
Use of Twitter Fleets
1. In the fleet bar, tap the circle with your face.
As with Instagram and LinkedIn Stories, the fleet bar is above your feed and your fleet icon is on the right as shown in the first screenshot above.
2. Create your content.
Similar to other story platforms, you’ll see a simple camera screen that you can use to take a picture, 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 set your content, you can tap “Aa” to add text, the color icon to change the color of the text, or the ALT icon to add an alternate text description for screen reader users.
4. Publish your fleet.
When you’re done, you can just tap “Fleet” in the top right corner to publish what you’ve created.
The motivation behind Twitter fleets
With fleets disappearing after 24 hours just like Instagram Stories, Twitter wants to find out if the short-lived content encourages deeper and more personal conversations on the platform.
To make fleets even more “personal”, other users cannot retweet or share the link to them. Twitter users can also reply to fleets just by direct message.
When Twitter launched its fleet pilot, the company surveyed some of the early beta testers. As expected, most who used Fleets said they felt more comfortable posting more personal thoughts or opinions than in standard tweets. This was because users knew that this content was going to go away at some point.
“We hope that those who are not typically familiar with tweeting will use Fleets to talk about the considerations that come to their mind,” said Mo Al Adham, a Twitter product manager, on Twitter’s announcement.
Twitter fleets also mean another step social media platforms are taking to leverage ephemeral content.
While the disappearance of videos, text, and stories may have sounded like gimmicks in the earlier days of social media, ephemeral content functions are becoming more common in today’s online landscape.
While fleets may not be the center of branding strategies just yet, you can still identify potential short-lived content that could ultimately work on the platform. Below, I’ll highlight some commonly used short-lived tactics that could increase brand awareness among Twitter fleets.
How Brands Could Use Twitter Fleets
1. Publication of time-limited offers
Would you like to have many products sold out quickly? Or are you offering your most dedicated Twitter followers a promotion? A great way to do both of these things could be using fleets to promote temporary sales, offers, or coupon codes.
Since fleets only last 24 hours, users can’t find the codes or promotions forever. This could mean that these audiences may be making an urgent purchase, using a specific coupon code, or simply visiting your website to learn more about your product.
2. Hosting Daily Giveaways
Aside from posting short-term sale and coupon codes, Fleets – and other story platforms – could be great places to promote giveaways. With a story-like platform, you can add more text, videos, and photos about the products you’re giving away and explain the rules of your giveaway on multiple pages.
While standard tweets allow you to advertise a giveaway, all of this information may need to be published in multiple posts or one thread due to the restrictions on the number of characters in Twitter. And because Twitter’s feed is so fast, you’ll likely need to post more than once to get a large number of contest entries in a limited amount of time.
With a platform like Fleets, not only can you post multiple pages of tweets in the same Fleet story, but your content will also appear in the Fleets section above a user’s feed. This can mean your contest announcement is less at risk of being buried by tweets from other accounts.
With fleets and stories only lasting 24 hours, viewers may feel a sense of urgency. As with coupons or sales, viewers may want to enter your contest, view your entire story, or go to your website before the fleet goes away.
To give you some extra inspiration, here’s an example of a competition a brand once ran on Instagram Stories:
3. Use live events on social media
Would you like to use 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 is over, users get back to focus on your entire brand and business.
In this example below, the NBA Instagram story featured the Toronto Raptors parade in Ontario, Canada. At this point in history, a Raptors team member was taking selfies with rapper Drake.
4. Interaction with loyal fans
While Twitter’s public platform already offers many ways for brands to find fans and interact with them directly, Fleets could be a helpful tool for that too.
You may regularly see content on Instagram and Facebook Stories where brands ask users to ask them questions or content. Then a brand might create a story with user-generated quotes, pictures, or videos. This tactic makes users who have participated feel that the brand cares about their thoughts. Meanwhile, such an interactive story can show other viewers that the brand values their most engaged followers.
Aside from question-and-answer interactions, you can also go a step further by posting fleets of user-generated content from customers or fans. One brand that does this a lot on Instagram Stories and Facebook is Planet Fitness. In the following story, they highlight photos of fitness trips sent to them by their actual clients:
With this story, loyal Planet Fitness fans can not only contribute to the brand’s social media content, but also show potential customers how real people have benefited from the gym’s services.
5. Offer 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. However, research shows that consumers are also enjoying behind-the-scenes material from brands.
While Tweets provide a platform for brands to quickly create well-worded posts or publish content, brands with Fleets can show audiences content or behind-the-scenes insights that make them appear more authentic and reliable. This is something that brands have seen a lot in their Instagram temporary stories.
In the following story, New England-based Caffe Nero highlights a Barista of the Year competition that it hosts with its staff every year. The story highlights how Caffe Nero’s baristas are dedicated to the customer and shows an authentic slice of the restaurant’s corporate culture that many customers may not be aware of.
5. Inform the audience about complex industry issues
When composing a tweet, you need to summarize your message in 280 characters or start a thread. However, Fleets or other social media stories allow you to add more information or insight into photos, videos, or multiple pages of text. This could allow brands to offer Twitter users a wider variety of valuable, easy-to-create content that isn’t limited to tiny tweets, expensive marketing videos, or time-consuming live streams.
Here’s an example of HubSpot discussing more complex industry topics through Instagram Stories. While you may not be able to add the same image tier to fleet content, you may be able to use multiple pages of text in a similar way.
Navigate ephemeral content
Can missing content really make an impression? If Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter taught us anything, the answer to that question is “Yes!”
While ephemeral platforms represent a new and exciting opportunity, it takes creativity and brainstorming to create content that will appeal to your audience in unforgettable ways.
This content type introduction provides important tips and strategies for ephemeral content. Then learn more about how big 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 fleet pilot in May 2020. However, it was updated in November 2020 to ensure completeness and freshness.