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Fleeting presence: Twitter ditches its Stories equivalent after nine months

Twitter Phone

Fleeting presence: Twitter ditches its Stories equivalent after nine months

Sixteen months ago, we wrote about the introduction of Twitter’s Fleets, a Snapchat-style feature that allows users to share thoughts and moments that disappear after 24 hours, similar to the Stories feature on Facebook and Instagram.

We speculated that it could represent a new beginning for Twitter that would bring it in line with its rivals. Alternatively, based on some negative initial feedback, we said it could lead to waning popularity for the site and affect the site’s dynamics.

In the end, it proved to be neither. Fleets simply wasn’t popular and was not used in the way Twitter hoped – so much so that the site has announced it will be axing the feature on August 3rd.

In March 2020, Twitter Product Lead Kayvon Beykpour described Fleets as an effort help people share “fleeting thoughts” on the platform, so in keeping with this focus on spontaneity and passing moments, it’s perhaps apt that the feature has lasted just nine months, having been rolled out to all users in November 2020.

In a blog post, Twitter says one of its main hopes when it introduced Fleets was that it would attract a new audience to the site, including those anxious about tweeting because they didn’t like the idea of their tweets being seen by everybody. However, Twitter has noted that Fleets was mainly being used by people already using the site, and was serving only to “amplify” their tweets. Twitter notes that it remains committed to improving the tweeting experience and encouraging people who hold back from tweeting to get involved.

We pointed out in our piece last March that an ephemeral form of posting (meaning one that disappears after a short time) was not something many Twitter users were asking for, so it’s perhaps not surprising that Fleets enjoyed little success. Still, with the pace of social media and the sheer number of ideas its biggest names come up with, it’s evitable some of them will fail. For example, Facebook’s first mobile app was notoriously glitchy and was described by CEO Mark Zuckerberg as “probably one of the biggest mistakes we’ve ever made”, while Google’s social media attempt, Google+, was too late to the party and never took off, eventually being shut down in 2019.

New ideas introduced by social media giants are always worth exploring, but usually it’s possible to get a gist of whether they are catching on or not fairly early. At Engage Web, we’re here to help you product content and social media campaigns that work, so why not get in touch?

John Murray
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