6 seconds. That’s all Vine was: 6 seconds of humor, glory, sadness, short stories, moments, memories, creativity, or laughter. Vine was started in June of 2012, and I absolutely loved it. I discovered Vine during my junior year of high school, and from then on out, I was hooked. I never made Vines, but my old lacrosse teammates and I would spend hours after practice watching the creative, funny, and stupid stuff that people would put out there on this app. When I first came to BC, Vine was the initial way I bonded with my freshman year roommate; I had never met someone else that found it as funny as I did. My best friend and I would direct message each other funny Vines instead of texting, and we always saw the best of Vine before they went viral on Instagram and Twitter.
I was one of the few people that used Vine almost daily, so I never actually believed the rumors that Twitter, who owned Vine, would actually shut it down. January 17, 2017 was a tragic day. I always knew that the concept of Vine was being “copied”, and then improved, by apps like Snapchat and Instagram, and even Twitter itself, so Vine shutting down wasn’t a huge surprise to me. However, I always wondered what killed Vine, and I found quite a few answers while doing some research:
1. Vine Moved too Slow
The creators of Vine were too slow moving to truly differentiate the app. Instead of allowing users to determine the length of their videos, Vine insisted on only allowing users to create 6 second clips. Meanwhile, Snapchat allowed its users to create videos up to 10 seconds in length, and would allow multiple videos and/or pictures to be posted under its MyStory feature, making it easier for users to share their content. When Instagram allowed videos to be posted, their users could post content up to 15 seconds in length. Eventually, Instagram increased video time to a full minute. By the time Vine decided to be flexible with the timing of its content, its users had moved on.
2. Vine Wasn’t Attractive to Advertisers
In order for a social media company to generate cash flow, their ideas need to be attractive to both users and advertisers. Advertisers likely thought that six second was just a little too short to get a strong, clear message out to their audience. In 2015, Vine had 200 million monthly active users, but only 10% of the top brands on Twitter were present on Vine. Vine only reached 14% of the United States’ digital population…which isn’t exactly an advertiser’s dream. Companies couldn’t truly capitalize on any advertising done via Vine, and passed the app over. Other social media apps, such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook, are much more attractive to advertisers.
3. Twitter Doesn’t Have the Money
Twitter lost $116.5 million last quarter, and their stock price has plummeted. Twitter has been struggling with finding somebody to buy them, and Vine wasn’t helping the cause. Vine wasn’t producing any advertising revenue, and Twitter simply couldn’t afford to pay the staff of Vine. Twitter has had a tough time winning more advertising money in the face of disappointing user growth. Declining advertising revenue and lackluster growth were a recipe of disaster for Vine, as Twitter needed to make a business move that would most benefit their company as a whole.
4. Even the Vine Stars Jumped Ship
Companies and brands used to pay Vine stars directly to advertise for them. However, after Snapchat and Instagram grew to have hundreds of millions of users, both the advertisers and the paid promoters jumped ship. Vine was their starting point, but once they gained a lot of followers and traction, they were offered more money to advertise and work with other social media apps. Compared to Vine, other social media video platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube offered more creativity and a larger audience, and therefore, a great opportunity to make money.
Will other Social Media Apps face the same fate?
As a millennial, Vine’s fate was honestly unsurprising. I was one of the few people who continued to use the app after its downward spiral, and even then, I mostly found myself re-watching the older Vines that I used to like. When Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat introduced video streaming and creation, there was no need for Vine. Instagram became a “one-stop shop.” Personally, I don’t think that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat will face the fate that Vine did because they all are able to generate revenue from advertisements, have large users bases, and have established themselves as the dominant social media applications and websites. However, newer social media applications, such as HouseParty, will have to avoid the mistakes Vine made. They need to be able to generate advertisement revenue, differentiate their product offering, and keep up with the ever-changing, always moving digital age.
RIP Vine, My Old Friend! You’ll be missed by me, but not by most. (Tragic.)