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The story of why Vine withered

17th Feb 2017
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Vine once seemed like the future of what social media would become. When it first emerged back in 2013 it brought a new era of video-first content. In essence it was the first social platform to capitalise on the trending popularity of the selfie - in fact it even launched the in same year that ‘selfie’ was awarded ‘Word of the Year’ by Oxford Dictionaries.

In its meteoric rise the app set aflame the careers of many of many video bloggers, and social media stars such as Logan Paul, who had seen his videos looped over 4 billion times, and was paid $200,000 by a brand to post a single video. Due to this it shot up the iTunes App Store ratings to become number one after only since months of being acquired by Twitter. At it’s dizzying peaks it saw over 200 million active users posting videos adding up to 39 million uploads and receiving a staggering 765 million views. 

Equally, the app drew the attention of high profile users from sports and politics, all the way to royalty. The Prime Minister’s office had an account and even used the platform to broadcasts its various initiatives and successes. In May 2013 Vine was even used by Clarence House to document Her Royal Highness visiting Paris.

However Vine wasn’t just used for entertainment purposes, brands and service providers also got on board to use it as a means of connecting with their customers. Natwest used Vine to answer its users questions and provide them with tutorials on how to use their services, while Burberry used the platform to showcase its entire collections over the past few years.

Yet despite all this huge success, Twitter shut down Vine this year. Where did it all go wrong?  

For starters the competitors not only took note of Vine’s burgeoning success with a video-forward strategy, they began to implement their own advances in video and brought new offerings to market. This happened all too quickly. The same year that Vine launched, Instagram introduced their very-own 15 second video clips feature. The following year Facebook followed suit and shifted their strategy to develop a “video-first” approach. It was this competition that quickly dispersed Vine’s following, as the very day that Instagram launched video capability the number of Vine loops appearing on Twitter fell by a million, and continued to fall down to 30% of what it was before Instagram’s move. While Vine brought some new features to their platform, such as allowing users to create loops with pre-existing videos, other platforms strode much further ahead. Meanwhile, Snapchat brought in Stories and Facebook launched Facebook Live. 

For the last few years Vine’s product innovation was to be stagnant. In fact, in spite of their competitors gaining ground, Vine stuck to its six-second format right until its final few months of autonomous operation, extending its limit to 140 seconds in June 2016. This was too little too late, and even Twitter began to look at new routes in video with integrated live streaming and live sports broadcasting.

The big issue that Vine continually faced was its lack of monetisation and also its relationship with content creators. What was once a lucrative platform, it soon lost its novelty and as its top creators left, marketers and brands began to move their money elsewhere. Despite Twitter purchasing Niche at the start of 2015, intending to assist their top stars with brand partnerships and deals, the recognition of the Vine influencer community was once again, too little too late. By this stage, many of these influential content creators were leaving for Instagram and YouTube and the top creators reportedly offered Vine their ongoing loyalty in return for over $1 million collective payment, plus product modifications. The app refused to commit to this.

Late in 2015 Twitter went on to launch Open Amplify which was service that was directly targeted at advertisers who could use the service to sponsor content, but again, it was a cause of addressing a critical issue, far too late. It wasn’t until 2016 that Vine fell, and when it did it had hemorrhaged over half of its most viewed accounts.

Now, Vine has officially shut down to become Vine Camera, a simple extension to Twitter. But given that online video now accounts for over two-thirds of all internet traffic, Vine’s demise is an example and lesson for platforms which refuse to innovate and due to this, fail to find a future.

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