The social media landscape is constantly changing with new features being introduced, and old features being retired constantly.
Sometimes though, a new feature doesn’t quite do what the platform developers intended. Maybe it doesn’t work properly, or perhaps it just doesn’t have the outcome they were expecting. When that’s the case, it’s removed to make way for newer and better.
This is exactly what happened with Twitter Fleets. That’s right, after just 10 short months, Twitter Fleets have been discontinued.
The Short Life of Twitter Fleets
When the production team over at Twitter designed Twitter Fleets, they were hoping to increase the number of new people joining Twitter. Fleets were highlighted at the top of the screen and were similar to Instagram Stories and Snapchat in that posts disappeared in 24-hours.
Ilya Brown, VP of Consumer Product said in a Twitter blog post from July 14th that, "We built Fleets as a lower-pressure, ephemeral way for people to share their fleeting thoughts."
Snapchat has been building loyal followers since it debuted in July of 2011, and Instagram Stories became a thriving feature for users of the platform in August of 2016, allowing them to share images and videos with their audience which disappear within 24 hours. The idea that Twitter users might enjoy the same low-pressure posting seemed reasonable enough.
The main goal for the feature was to attract more users, Brown said, "Although we built Fleets to address some of the anxieties that hold people back from Tweeting, Fleets are mostly used by people who are already Tweeting to amplify their own Tweets and talk directly with others."
The announcement in early July had many people wondering why Twitter Fleets was discontinued. Well, after implementing the feature and testing it out for several months, they saw no notable increase in the number of new people on Twitter and decided to ax the project.
It’s now back to the drawing board for Twitter as they look for new ways to inspire people to join the conversation, not only by sharing others’ Tweets but also by creating their own. Brown said that they are using what they learned during this experiment to optimize some of their other features and improve the experience for their users. They found that the top of the timeline is still a great spot to highlight what’s happening now so users will still see Spaces up there when someone they follow is "hosting or speaking in a live audio conversation." They’ll also explore different updates to improve photos and videos such as the full-screen camera, text formatting options, and the use of GIF stickers.
Social media platforms don’t usually act that quickly to remove a feature that’s producing sub-par results. While Twitter Fleets may not have done what it was intended to do, it has shown the world that if something isn’t working, it can be shut down quickly.
Alternatives to Twitter Fleets
With Twitter Fleets gone, many social media users are looking for alternatives. For now, it looks like Snapchat, Instagram Stories, and Facebook stories are the best options for those looking to post quick pieces of content that are live for 24 hours.
For brands looking to stay connected with their communities on social media, Instagram stories are currently best for reach. According to Rival IQ, brands that have the highest engagement on Instagram post stories approximately 16 times per month, sharing one to three frames each time.
As mentioned before, the social media landscape is constantly changing. There could be an existing platform adding new functionality, or an entirely new social media platform in the works as we speak. We’ll just have to wait and see what’s next on the horizon.