What does Twitter's Fleets hold for brands

Industry experts say the new feature will help brands drive spontaneity and urgency in conversations

e4m by Dipali Banka
Updated: Jun 16, 2020 1:35 PM

Twitter is testing a new mode of conversation in India with Fleets, posts that disappear after 24 hours and have no retweets, likes or public comments. So, was it really necessary for the microblogging site to add a platform where one could deliver snappy, bite-sized updates and opinions? Many a users have opined that this is spoiling the perfect balance of visual and words, and also that this feature is already present in an identical fashion on other social media platforms. However, advertisers and brands will lap up the feature to send direct messages to users and create spontaneity in conversations and drive urgency.

“We built this to make it easier for you to express yourself in new ways that feel less permanent and more casual than Tweeting,” Twitter said in a Fleet.

“It’ll also be interesting to see if it further amplifies the diversity of usage by allowing people to share what they’re thinking in a way that is light-touch and light-hearted,” said Manish Maheshwari, MD, Twitter India, in the company statement.

Fleets will make the most of the Twitter’s short-form text friendliness and the debates and meaningful conversations. “The advantage of Fleet is that it is not a rigid broadcast written in ink to last forever. It is time-bound. So it invokes a sense of spontaneity in conversations and drives urgency to act if used smartly,” says Arjun Mohan, CEO India, upGrad. “We see its immediate application for engaging in a more personalised conversation with our followers and learner base. Brands can express their ‘fleeting thoughts’ which are seemingly unfiltered and are in the likes of 'behind-the-scene' sneak peek. Thus, making the brand more personal, more human. Fleets can be the tactical means of communication for certain platform-related announcements whose implications are short-lived, like tech updates or event notifications. For now, it's an empty canvas with tons of possibilities, which will be brought to life with the right creative nudge,” he adds.

Pranay Swarup, CEO, Chtrbox, feels this short-form text-friendliness of Twitter makes Fleets unique storiecompared to other more photo/video heavy mediums like Instagram, Youtube and TikTok.  “We think Fleets will encourage more participation on Twitter instead of passive followership, which is great for overall engagement on the platform. Tagging and hashtags still work within Fleets so building discoverability and generating trending topics should become more seamless,” he says.

Sharpen Moment Marketing
Trending hashtags and engaging conversation topics are some of the major highlights of Twitter. Brands try to make the most of these conversations by posting something related. And Fleets will help them sharpen this particular aspect.

“Twitter is largely about the culture of here and now. With Twitter Fleets, it should further sharpen the moment marketing themes for brands that seek to ride topicality. The direct interactions feature could be interestingly used by brands for hyper personalization,” says Peeyush Bachlaus AVP – Marketing, Kansai Nerolac Paints Ltd.

However, brands have had their limitations on what they can say or do, considering the very involved audiences wherein a stance taken by any brand or individual on a trending issue could spark larger debates and possibly even controversies. “With Fleets, this opens room for immediate responses or stances without the worry of it being etched forever in the walls of tweets. It opens up the window to explore more in moment marketing, experimentation and short term initiatives,” Chaaya Bharadwaj, Founder & MD, BC Web Wise.

“Fleet has allowed Twitter to open its doors to encourage real-time interaction, which works for brands and digital creators on multiple levels. They can be people first, make announcements/statements, directly interact with fans and address customer grievances while still getting the opportunity to monetize the feature to promote limited time offers, flash sales, giveaways, and such. Additionally, this has the potential to lessen trolling if the content is contextual to just a day as opposed to content ever-present on your page,” says Nicole Ferraz, Creative Director at Blink Digital.

Higher views and impressions as compared to regular posts
Instagram stories get higher views and impressions as compared to posts on the rest of the app. Advertisers and brands realized this very early on and strategized for stories separately. “Our learning is that posts with a limited lifespan, like IG stories and fleets, drive much higher FOMO - and hence higher engagement. For Fleet, like any new feature launched by a social media platform, there are mixed emotions along with some entertaining tips - go check out #FleetFeedback. As for brands, many will invariably repost content meant for elsewhere, but most will wait and watch what impact it can drive. The user behaviour and adoption will dictate how much brands focus on it and how much advertisers spend on it in the near future. I am looking forward to some smart creators and some select brands having a lot of fun with Fleet, while it's still a fresh new feature,” says Siddharth Devnani, Co-founder & Partner at SoCheers

Faster Turnaround time & discovery time for content
The vertical scroll format of Fleets allows brands or creator to tell stories more effectively with mixed media. “We think brands will use Fleets themselves and via creators to drive time bound launches, get leads & contest responses among other engagement ideas.  Other advantages brands will like is a faster turnaround time of influencer content (due to less editing/shooting time than other platforms) & it should be more economical than influencer Tweets (similar to how Instagram stories cost less than posts for most influencers),” says Julie Kriegshaber, COO, Chtrbox
Even Mehul Gupta, CEO & Co-founder at SoCheers, says Twitter Fleets will help content to be discovered quicker. “Due to the launch of the fleets, images and videos will now be equally important on the platform as compared to 140 characters earlier. It has undoubtedly given room for creative content on the platform which will be smartly used by the creators, influencers & brands. However, the impact of this is yet to be discovered. We can expect a few more updates in the coming weeks by the Twitter team basis their learnings.”

Hence it will be utilized more by content led brands, opines Bharadwaj of BC Web Wise. “Brands are still getting used to Instagram Stories. Facebook Stories haven't been leveraged by brands as much, but this feature will be utilised by content-led brands a lot. Some of the names that come to mind would be magazines and other content portals,” says Bharadwaj of BC Web Wise

A new dimension for influencers
Influencers can now reshare or post in their stories brand-led fleets, there by definitely adding an interesting dimension to how one engages with influencers on Twitter
“Having just a 24-hour window, Fleets gives influencers one more way of tapping into their target market's inner FOMO. So if a tweet is your progress, the fleet can be your process. Give followers a behind-the-scenes look into projects and even sneak peeks into upcoming ones. Influencers can also take over a brand’s Fleets for the day, letting them interact with the brand’s following thus increasing their reach simultaneously,” says Nicole Ferraz, Creative Director at Blink Digital.

May not pull off big campaigns
However, Fleets, although a pure copy of Instagram and Snapchat story feature, may not radically change social media campaigns. It has certain limitations which Instagram and Snapchat don’t. Hence it may just be an addition to existing campaigns but may not pull off big campaigns.

“I feel it's very early stages for Fleet at the moment. While it is just another name for the Story feature, I feel it's going to get some time for Twitter users to get used to it. The biggest advantage that the Instagram and Snapchat story feature provides is the swipe up link option that enables the user to redirect their audience to a third party page which end up generating leads/conversions. Twitter Fleet does not provide this option as of today, hence both brands and creators will use this feature as another medium to enhance their reach with their existing set of followers,” Viraj Sheth, Co-founder and CEO, Monk Entertainment.

Even Shrenik Gandhi, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, White Rivers Media, feels that it may just be a good addition to existing campaign mediums. "Fleets is a good to have feature. I don’t think it is going to radically change the way social media operates. Instagram stories did shatter the way social media platforms works a few years back. At times, introducing a platform feature becomes a necessity more than innovation and I believe fleets does just that. With the limitations it has, one may not be able to pull of big campaigns on fleets, but for sure it shall be a good addition to existing campaign mediums,” he says.

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