Vine, the once popular video-sharing app that allowed aspiring actors, video creators and teenagers alike to create short videos, was officially shut down in January 2017. The app is home to videos such as “Damn Daniel” and “The Party Llama,” and it is no secret the Twitter-owned video-sharing app influenced many of the social media networks of today.
The skinny on Vine
Founded by Dom Hofmann, Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll in 2012, Vine was acquired by Twitter in October 2012, and was officially launched by the popular social media network in January 2013. The app allowed users to film short clips that could be edited together to form a six-second video. Each video was played in a continuous loop.
Vine was one of the first social media platforms to offer short-form streaming video, according to The New Yorker. The platform was geared towards teens and was seen as a “toy” for users instead of a tool, according to a Variety interview with Vine’s general manager Hannah Donovan. It was once a fairly successful app that had over 200 million monthly users. However, on October 27, 2016, Twitter announced it would be shutting down the app in the next few months.
How did a widely-used app owned by a social media powerhouse go from being a beloved video-sharing app to getting shut down? There are a few reasons it failed, namely Vine became irrelevant as other social media apps began offering new video formats and Twitter struggled to monetize the app.
Competition is fierce
While Vine was once a “unique” video service, other social media platforms including Instagram and Snapchat quickly figured out a way to offer video on their platforms-- and they did it better. Snapchat began offering video to its users in December 2012 and Instagram followed suit by offering a way to share 15-second videos in 2013, according to The Atlantic.
Short video creation and sharing were important components of both Snapchat and Vine as both targeted teens. However, while Vine’s specialty was video, Snapchat offered other unique ways to use the app including photo filters. Snapchat continued to grow in popularity while Vine's began to decline.
Similarly, Instagram video also led to the decline in Vine’s popularity. The photo-sharing app was already popular among users and the offering of video allowed those users to share more content with followers. As Charlie Warzel said of the introduction to video in The Atlantic article, “The most troubling relationship is the fairly steady rise of Instagram’s shares next to Vine’s far more drastic drop, which seem to suggest that users aren’t necessarily flocking to Instagram, which they probably already use — they’re simply forgetting about Vine.”
Money makes the world go ‘round
Successful social media platforms have figured out how to attract both consumers and advertisers alike. They have mastered how to make a profit and continue improving their advertising services for brands. Unfortunately, Vine never quite figured out how to make money. The New Yorker summed it up perfectly, “It failed because it’s popularity couldn’t be sufficiently monetized. No one was ever going to sit through a fifteen-second ad in order to watch a six-second Vine.”
Vine lacked an advertising model, and marketers began favoring other social media platforms because they allowed brands to target specific audiences. “Video analytics firm Tubular Labs reviewed Vine, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube accounts of 40 major brands, including Coca-Cola, Target and Dunkin' Donuts,” according to a 2015 article in Adweek. “Between September and November, marketers posted 2,500 social videos, and Vine contributed just 113 of those clips—equivalent to 4 percent of branded content.” Without brands and advertisers using the platform, there was no way for Vine to make money.
Keep your influencers happy or else
Successful social media platforms realize the importance of listening to the people who make their platforms popular, with many-- including Facebook and Snapchat—paying its influential users to use their platforms. Not only did Vine fail to adapt and evolve the platform to fit the needs of its users, but it also failed to reward their stars, according to Adweek.
After realizing the shortcomings of the video-sharing app, Viners began leaving the platform in favor of others. Some of the app’s top stars scheduled a meeting with Vine in 2015 to discuss getting compensated for advocating on behalf of the platform. “Three and a half years is a long time to have us posting on your platform for free,” a Vine star was quoted saying in Forbes. Vine did not go for their offer, and Viners started to go to other platforms, which was the beginning of the end of the video-sharing app.
Social media app creators everywhere can learn a few lessons from Vine’s disappearance. Those key lessons include:
Hannah Donovan was quoted in her interview with Variety saying, “Video is quickly becoming the future of communication.” She was right-- every day social media users are seeing more and more video. Users are now even encouraged to create live video on platforms including Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Vine played an important role in popularizing the use of short-form video and it is a platform that is missed by many. #RIPVine