- Twitter started testing tweets that disappear after 24 hours, resembling the stories feature in Snapchat and Instagram. Twitter is piloting the vanishing tweets, which the social network calls "Fleets," in Brazil, per an announcement.
- Twitter users in the country can see Fleets by tapping on other users' profile pictures. Fleets don't appear in a user's timeline of regular tweets, nor can they be retweeted by other users. Twitter also doesn't let users "like" or publicly reply to Fleets, Kayvon Beykpour, the company's product lead, said in a tweet.
- "We're hoping that Fleets can help people share the fleeting thoughts that they would have been unlikely to Tweet," Beykpour said. The only way for Twitters users to respond to a Fleet is through a direct message, he said.
Twitter's test of disappearing tweets indicates that the company is working to boost engagement by adopting a format that has proven to be wildly popular among social media users. Brands are likely to start exploring ways to use Fleets as part of their Twitter messaging strategies, with possible use cases for brands including short-term deals, contests and messaging not intended to stick around, per a contributor on Forbes.
It's too early to tell whether Twitter will monetize the feature by selling ad inserts in Fleets. However, the feature may help to boost repeat visits to Twitter as users check in more routinely to see posts before they disappear. That increased engagement would increase the likelihood that marketers reach target audiences on Twitter.
For Twitter, the stories-like format would help the social network to keep pace with rivals. Snapchat introduced Stories in 2013 to let users share a single disappearing post with multiple people, instead of the one-to-one vanishing messages that were the original basis for the app. As Snapchat surged in popularity, Facebook started to copy Snapchat's features to keep people engaged with its own family of apps. Facebook's Instagram introduced a Stories format in 2016, and has said that the feature helps to boost usage as people check the app to see posts before they disappear. The stories format has proven to be so popular that companies as varied as LinkedIn, Pinterest, Netflix, Tinder and YouTube have created their own versions of disappearing posts.
Twitter's Fleets test comes as company management faces pressure from shareholders to boost user growth and speed up innovation. Twitter was a social media pioneer when it was founded in 2006, and the birth of the smartphone era helped to drive its early growth. However, younger rivals including Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and TikTok have managed to overtake Twitter in monthly usage.
Twitter receives constant publicity as celebrities, journalists and politicians such as President Donald Trump use the platform to connect directly with its users, but that hasn't translated into broader global growth. Twitter's user base grew 20% to 152 million last year, but it only had 31 million users outside the U.S., per its quarterly report. Twitter also coped with technical glitches that hampered ad revenue growth last year.