Posted on: 27.11.2020

Fleets, Tweets, Repeats

Twitter’s latest update brings nothing new to the table… but it’ll be interesting to see how users adapt. 

They say Capitalism breeds innovation so… why are all these social media platforms copying each other?

Recently Twitter launched a new addition to its platform: Fleets. The function lets you record videos, share photos and post tweets to a ‘story’ that lasts 24 hours. You might be wondering… ‘isn’t that the same as Snapchat?’ Or maybe you’re thinking ‘I’m sure Instagram lets you do something similar’. Or maybe you don’t use Snapchat or Instagram, but you’ve definitely seen something similar on Facebook… and LinkedIn… You get the idea.

And I’m here to tell you that you are absolutely right. Because Fleets brings, like an uninvited dinner guest, absolutely nothing new to the table. Which begs the question… what was Twitter thinking?

Image-focussed platforms like Instagram and Snapchat have a lot in common when it comes to User Experience, so it’s understandable that they provide a similar offering. But Twitter is an entirely different platform, with a unique UX. If Instagram is all about aesthetics, Twitter is all about wit and words. That’s how it sets itself apart. So this most recent update just feels… pointless. No one asked for it. It’s late to the party, and the wrong party at that.

This isn’t the first time updates to the platform have caused a stir. In a bid to curb the spread of misinformation, Twitter altered its Retweet function to prompt Quote Tweets with comments. Users could still RT as normal… but it did take a fraction of a second longer, which didn’t go down too well. But these kind of gripes are normal. Instagram is currently facing a backlash against a recent layout change. But to add an entirely new function, that seemingly goes against your biggest USP, is an odd move for Twitter.

One thing it does suggest is that ephemeral, ‘stories’ type content isn’t just a fleet-ing trend. Maybe we love the excitement and exclusivity. Or maybe we got sick of things we post on the internet being there forever. Now all of our embarrassing escapades are available for just 24 hours before disappearing forever*

*Unless someone screen-records your story… in that case your embarrassment will live on.

It’s still early days for Fleets. Who knows, it could be the perfect addition to the platform. But for me, it just feels like a pointless exercise in innovation. It will be interesting to see how brands react, though. Look at companies like Innocent – renowned for its Twitter game, using the platform in a totally different way to Facebook and Instagram. We’ll see how they adapt to Fleets, and whether they keep the distinction between their platforms or begin to blend their content.

Ultimately, this new feature is lost on me. Maybe I just don’t deal well with change. But it really does feel like a lackluster update to a platform that has so many other issues and areas ripe for improvement – changes that could elevate Twitter in a much more meaningful way.

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