Your answer is likely to be no — even Twitter knows Fleets were not a hit — here’s a recap of the feature’s life, highs and lows.
When Twitter announced Fleets last year, they were able to garner a lot of interest and headlines. However, it wasn’t a sustained affair. After a mild flutter, interest in Fleets depleted significantly, causing the micro-blogging site to decide to shut the feature a little over a year later. Twitter is currently working on new features, probably to fill that header space, which was earlier occupied by those circular Fleets.
Twitter is a place where you scroll through opinions, which may go out of trend in a day but do stay documented on the platform for years. Traction for a hashtag can pick up any time conversations get added to it, irrespective of how much time has passed. Some hashtags even have communities built around them. The ephemeral nature of the feature was what caught the world’s eye, but it also went against the fundamental structure(s) of the platform.
A year ago, in the aftermath of TikTok’s ban and the rise of Instagram Reels, Fleets were also seen as just another space on yet another platform that wants to be like the others. Brands and marketers had shown interest (and creativity) but it was short-lived, pretty much like any other topical trend. In some cases, Fleets were used as a place where tweets could be shared as an attempt to drive engagement.
Paul Stamatiou, who led the team working on Fleets design, took to Twitter to bid farewell to the feature. It was a response from him, to the millions of DMs he had received, asking how he felt about the decision. He went on to explain the many things that the team learnt because of the process, even from the aspects that never saw the light of the day, publicly.
This included a tonne of research, development, prototyping and data collection. “We were testing a hypothesis and not everything goes as you plan,” he says, adding an old anecdote from his startup days. “The worst position for a product to be in is when it has moderate use. Not a break out success, not a flat-out failure where you know exactly what to do,” he said, applauding Twitter for being able to make a hard decision like this.
Fleets were built as “a lower-pressure, ephemeral way for people to share their fleeting thoughts,” Ilya Brown, VP, Consumer Product, Twitter, had written in a recent blog post. However, the numbers weren’t encouraging, leading to the feature’s end. The lessons learnt in the process and the products developed are likely to help Twitter expand the ways people can create and share visuals on the platform.
Recently, Twitter has even made it possible for people to share vertically long images — many more such steps can be expected going forward.
For Fleets though, today is perhaps the day when it’s seeing the most traction as people are bidding it goodbye. Everyone seems to have thoughts about it! Do you? Would you miss something about Fleets? Do tell us, we are all ears!