Twitter Damage Report, Part II: The Eulogy of Vine
Here lies Vine, taken from us at such an early age. We knew you for almost four years, and in that time, you have brought us endless joy in 6-second video format. You were beloved by the world, and especially by those who used you to attain pseudo-celebrity status, no matter how aggravating they were. Everyone wanted to be like you. From showcasing the daily lives of users around the world to being used to document tragic events like the Boston Marathon Bombing, you have been there for us. Why must we say goodbye to an app so good, and so young?
From its early roots as an independent video recording app to its peak as one of the top social apps in the world, Vine has seen wild success since its inception in 2012 and its full launch in 2013. Yet, as a Twitter-owned product, it was one of the first to be thrown overboard in an effort to save a sinking ship, as we discussed in part I of this blog. To fully understand the impact Vine had not only on the world, but on marketing specifically, we first must learn its history, and why the app deserves a real obituary.
Wild Vines that Needed Trimming
In 2012, Vine was founded by us Yusupov, Dom Hofmann and Colin Kroll. The app was pretty much unrecognizable at that point. There was no looping and no time limit. All they wanted to make was an app to make video recording and editing easy, as a way for users to share their daily lives. But, thanks to file size limits over text messaging, the founders realized they needed a way to make the videos smaller while making the app easier to use.
For a while, they tinkered with different time limits on videos. Ten seconds was too long, but five seconds wasn’t long enough. They finally settled on six seconds, with an extension leeway of half a second. That limit made videos feel a bit anticlimactic, so they added a looping feature, and in combination with the time limit, what we know as a Vine finally got through those awkward puberty years (months) and was ready to take on the world.
Though Twitter bought Vine in 2012, it didn’t take off in popularity until April 2013, for perhaps one of the most tragic reasons. It was in April that a homemade bomb exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. One man, Doug Lorman, was watching the end of the race on his television saw the explosion. He rewound and recorded the scene via Vine and uploaded it to Twitter. Within an hour, his post had been retweeted nearly 16,000 times, and the video had been viewed more than 35,000 times. It was in that moment that people realized Vine was more than an app for sharing silly videos; it would become a vital part of news reporting.
The Rise of the Vine Star
Beyond being used to tell the stories of the world, Vine was the perfect platform for creative types to get their time in the sun. Originally, the six-second limit seemed like a death toll for storytellers. But with the app’s unique video editing techniques, they could record three 2-second clips, put them together and tell a full, funny story. One former member of Twitter’s marketing team, Ian Padgham, saw the potential for Vine as soon as Twitter bought it. His first big Vine was a timelapse video of more than 300 photos as a tribute to Eadweard Muybridge, a founding father of motion pictures. He also created a timelapse of his fingers “adjusting the time” on Big Ben, a Vine that has been looped more than 5 million times. Soon, he was asked by corporations to make Vines on their behalf, which has since become his full-time job.
But even those who didn’t take up making Vines as an occupation found success as their profiles went viral. For instance, actor and comedian Andrew B. Bachelor took Vine by storm as King Bach. He currently has the most followers, over 16 million, and views, over 6 billion, on Vine. Or there’s Logan Paul, who used his Vine profile to launch his acting career (he currently has over 4 billion loops and nearly 10 million followers). Yet, with all the success Vine has brought to Twitter, the parent company has decided it’s time for the app to be laid to rest.
The Death Knell of Vine
Though Vine was wildly successful and the first of its kind, fierce (and established) competitors broke into the scene to take some of that market share. Perhaps the most important competitor was Instagram. Soon after Twitter launched Vine, Instagram (now owned by Facebook) launched their own 15-second video service. Snapchat was also there, chipping away at users. While these services added new features, Vine most stayed the same, causing some users to leave. However, it wasn’t the competition that ultimately sunk Vine, but what was happening in the captain’s quarters.
Vine and Twitter faced very similar problems: Lack of strong executive leadership. Two of the three founders left in 2014 to pursue other opportunities, with the last founder being laid off last year during Twitter’s massive “restructuring.” On top of that, Vine was starting to lose sponsorships. Corporations moved away from paying for Vines and moved more toward Snapchat, Instagram and promoted tweets. And as Twitter courts different investors and/or buyers, they have taken the opportunity to cut away a segment that could potentially be seen as a liability rather than an asset.
Twitter’s future is tumultuous at best right now, but it is safe to say their core service will be around for a while, allowing users to continue giving their opinions 140 characters at a time. Make sure you are taking advantage of Twitter and other opportunities by entrusting your digital marketing to an experienced agency. Visit our services page or contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.