Every social media marketer let out a collective sigh when Twitter released Fleets on November 17th. With Fleets, Twitter had joined the likes of Snapchat, Instagram, Messenger, Facebook, WhatsApp and even LinkedIn by emphasizing the ‘fleeting’ nature of social media. Obviously, the concept isn’t new – and with some nuances on the Twitter platform, it’s still a work in progress. Regardless, it’s another channel for social media marketers to rejoice (puzzle) over.
With new channels come new content opportunities. Social media marketers aren’t foreign to the content demand and strategy needs of adding a whole new content format and channel. With Fleets, however, there are some unique points and trends to call out for brands and social media marketers.
Predictions: At a Glance
The real value with Fleets lies in how they will evolve over time. In the meantime, we can make a few educated predictions on how these will impact brands. If you’re going to invest in Fleets, then you should also invest in support to deal with the DMs. In terms of engagement, brands should expect to see a lot more DMs from audience members. These quick engagement points can be used to create stronger relationships, but only if you’re staffed well enough to handle the volume. People expect an answer from the brands they engage with – Fleets will likely be no different.
With this increase in content, you can definitely expect word of mouth for your brand to increase. Social media has already made word of mouth marketing more scalable, but Fleets, like Instagram or Snap stories, exponentially increases the opportunity for creative expression. This will be hard to track, but it will definitely feed into the larger community ecosystem of real-time social content. It will also create greater ROI for brands with stronger communities and customer experiences.
That feedback is half the story for brands. Ultimately, just like every other feature on social media, we can likely expect ads to come to this platform. And that's a good thing for brands. This new mobile first visual media has a lot of potential to convert and engage the casual scrollers, especially for verticals dealing with rising CPM prices on Instagram. With new opportunities often come new demands – and if ads become a reality, brands will need content to keep up.
Sourcing Content for Fleets
With the rise of ephemeral social media channels, social media marketers find themselves deeper in the content conundrum: how do we source unique content for this new channel with the expectation that the exposure will be, well, fleeting? Truthfully, justifying a new creative budget for content set to disappear within 24 hours is unlikely for most marketers this year.
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Accessing scalable content isn’t a new problem for brands – but marketers must once again ask themselves where this content should come from. As I see it, there are two core ways marketers can deal with content to make it more scalable.
1. Channel specific content: Crowdsource vs Create
Creating new content, especially engaging visual content, is time consuming and often expensive for brands. User-generated content, employee, or, influencer content offer ways to make the content strategy more scalable and will likely play a role in a brand’s strategy. If brands are going down the ‘create’ path for channel specific content they will likely need to invest in a better system for content management to extend the lifetime of the creative.
2. Repurpose Content
Ultimately, cross-pollinating content shouldn’t be a gasp-worthy phrase. And with the rise of downloadable social content (like TikTok), consumers expect content to live on multiple channels – as long as it’s aligned with the brand and community values. In addition, Fleets could be a place where some content that didn’t make the main feed could live, similar to IG stories.
In reality, we can expect the content mix to be a true mix. Beyond the content dilemma, the question presents itself: what do we use Fleets for?
Strategizing Fleets Over Other Channels
This section is for every social media marketer who woke up to a slack from their CMO this morning asking “what is our strategy for Twitter Fleets?” Similar to the other disappearing post channels (known as stories virtually everywhere else), there’s a lot of potential for marketing creativity.
“I would anticipate an increased focus on an expansion of fan engagement through simple sharing of Tweets right to a Fleet vs. being highly selective about what to permanently share to a brand profile.” – Ashmi Dang, former Director/Head of Social at Showtime
With Fleets, brands can help showcase their customer and fan content quickly, with little concern for the longevity for the content. And that can drive deeper engagement with more fans. Still, Fleets have a long way to come before they offer the same opportunities as stories.
“I'm not seeing a way for a brand to do as much as we can with the other story formats: no filters, no stickers, no swipe-ups, no way to quote RT or re-share which feels the most own-able for Twitter given how successful that is as a natural behavior for users there. Beyond posting a pre-made asset or tappable video, I don't see many ways for a brand to drive deeper engagement beyond a view. For marketers to test this, we need more in-depth metrics; tap forwards, backs, time spent with each frame, reach, shares, etc.”
– Bryna Corcoran, Director of Social Media at Lyft
Beyond top-of-the-funnel-engagement, Fleets could be beneficial for flash sales and giveaways, we can expect to see brands begin to utilize this channel for promotion. But if done clumsily and inauthentically, this could lower engagement. As with everything social – striking a balance will be key.
The broader trend here is that social has become a vehicle for brands to be less brand out, and more community in. Fleets are no different. Strict brand guidelines were important when content inventory was limited, but as content opportunities expand, so do the opportunities for creativity.