It’s common wisdom that the internet is forever. Country superstar Brad Paisley even wrote a song about it, for goodness sakes. But Twitter, with its new Fleets feature, dares to disagree.
Rolled out to users worldwide November 2020, Fleets are a way to post content on Twitter that will disappear after 24 hours.
Reactions so far have been… mixed.
To be fair, early tests in Italy, India, Brazil and South Korea showed that Fleets did encourage more activity, particularly from newer users. Because these sorts of posts are explicitly temporary, many found it a more comfortable way to share their thoughts and opinions.
It’ll be interesting to see if Fleets catch on or if, like the posts themselves, the feature eventually disappears into thin air. In the meantime, if you’re interested in Fleeting some Fleets (yeah, it’s a noun and a verb, keep up!) for your business, read on for the lowdown.
(This post will be up longer than 24 hours, don’t worry.)
What are Fleets?
Like Instagram Stories, Facebook stories, or the OG of disappearing content, Snapchat, Fleets are Twitter posts that are temporary. After 24 hours, your Fleet is gone forever.
Fleets are only postable and visible on Twitter mobile apps. There is no information about whether the feature will ever be available via desktop.
Fleets can be text, gifs, photo or video posts. You can also Fleet your reactions to Tweets. Fleets can be customized with a variety of background colors and text options. Express yourself! (For the day.)
The pressure to get those sweet retweets and likes? Gone! The discomfort of putting your comments on the record? Gone!
If you’ve got something to say about the latest episode of MasterChef Junior (and we know you do), but are worried about creating a permanent record about your opinion of Benni’s omelette skills, Fleets are a great way to share what’s on your mind in the moment.
These are Twitter posts that are, well, fleeting. Here today, gone tomorrow.
How to use Twitter Fleets
If you’ve got the latest version of the Twitter app on your phone or tablet, you’re ready to get Fleeting. It’s like the Fleets were inside of you all along, don’t you see?!
How to log in to Fleets
- Log in to your Twitter mobile app.
- That’s it! You’re in!
Along the top of the screen, you’ll see a lineup of circles, similar to Instagram stories. On the far left is your own Fleet icon. Which brings us to….
How to create a Fleet
- Click on your Fleet icon (the circle with your profile pic) on the top left corner of the home screen.
- You’re in creation mode now! At the bottom of the screen, you can slide left or right between different types of content — choose Text, Camera Roll, Capture, or Video. (Note: Capture requires holding down the record button, while Video is your hands-free recording option.)
- Next, you can resize your graphics, change the background color, or add in additional text to make your Fleet sweet.
- When you’re ready to share, tap the Fleet button in the top right corner. Now it’s out in the world for the next 24 hours!
- If you’d like to share a tweet (your own or someone else’s) via Fleets, here’s how:
- Tap the “share” icon at the bottom of a Tweet.
- Tap Share in a Fleet.
- Now, add any additional text or emojis.
- Tap the Fleet button in the top right corner.
Note that anyone who can see your full profile will also be able to see your Fleets, so don’t be too devil-may-care with your comments. Also good to know: anyone who is able to send you a DM can reply to your Fleets.
How to share a Fleet
It is not possible to retweet or share a link to a Fleet.
That being said, there is no indicator if someone screenshots a Fleet, so that’s one way around this restriction. Get sneaky, we’re not here to judge.
How to watch a Fleet
You’ll see Fleets at the top of your home timeline. Click on any to watch. The next one in your list will play automatically when it’s done.
You can see who viewed your Fleet (this includes accounts with protected Tweets) by opening up your Fleet and tapping “Seen By” at the bottom.
How to reply to a Fleet
If you’re able to send a DM to the user, you’ll see a comment field at the bottom of their Fleet.
Tap the comment field to compose a Direct Message, or click on the emoji icon on the bottom right to send a reaction to the original poster.
You’ll find the history of this conversation in your DMs. (This chat log, however, won’t disappear after 24 hours, so play it cool!)
5 ways to use Twitter Fleets for business
As always, just because a social media platform introduces a new feature doesn’t mean you need to use it. Not all tools are helpful for all purposes.
Before you throw Fleets onto your daily social media to-do list, it’s helpful to take a beat to see how it could fit into your overall social strategy.
Fleets also currently lack some of the more engaging features of competitors like Instagram Stories. No stickers, no ability to add a link, no live streaming. At the moment, it’s a little bare bones.
That being said, social platforms often will give an algorithm boost to new features — we’re looking at you, Reels — so there is some value in experimenting if getting more exposure is important to your brand. Here’s a few suggestions for how to make the most of Fleets’ ephemeral nature for your business.
1. Ask a question
Responses will come right into your DMs, so it’s a great way to build a quick and direct connection with an engaged user.
2. Share limited-time offers
If you’ve got a flash sale or get-’em-while-they’re-hot offer, the temporary nature of Fleets could be a great way to get the message out without having to go delete the post later.
3. Share customer content without clogging up your feed
When you want to share a complimentary Tweet with the world (e.g. if Ben Affleck is raving about your dog food brand), but don’t want to ruin the flow of your posts, share it in a Fleet instead.
4. Stand out from the crowd
Twitter has 145 million daily active users. Five hundred million
go out every day. It’s really easy for your message to get lost in the chaos.
Taking advantage of this new format, with fewer users, is a simple way to stand out from the crowd. Instead of being swallowed up by the news feed, your post is right at the very top of the home page.
5. Create a vibe of authenticity
Because Fleets are temporary, it’s an opportunity to be more casual and personable in a way that a corporate, on-the-record Twitter feed might not be.
This content isn’t for long, so try getting more experimental and playful — maybe even share some behind-the-scenes intel! — to test how your audience reacts.
Like Tweets, Fleets have to follow the code of conduct, so behave yourself out there. Fleets may be short-lived, but a bad reputation on Twitter is forever.