Last week Twitter announced through Medium, “Since 2013, millions of people have turned to Vine to laugh at loops and see creativity unfold. Today, we are sharing the news that in the coming months we’ll be discontinuing the mobile app.” So what went awry? Why is the app, which had 200 million active monthly users and about 1 billion daily loops set to shut down soon? The app, once in the top 40 most-downloaded iOS apps, plummeted to nearly the 250th slot in recent months. Let’s find out what made this ‘Jack’ fall off a clearly burgeoning hill.
Failed to produce a ‘community.’
If you notice why YouTube is highly popular, it is not exclusively because of the financial advantage it provides its creators, but also the tactile sense of ‘community’ which makes the YouTube creators feel like they’re doing their job the right way. It gives them affinity. I’ve been following with many popular YouTubers for years now and have noted that they get invited to YouTube seminars, conferences and workshops which in turn helps then to learn and improve their online content.
Viners created groups among themselves and started collaborating for new videos. But Vine failed to recognise these stars earlier on to credit them for their contributions towards the growth of Vine.
“We were driving billions of views — billions — before we left,” Vine star DeStorm Power said in his recent YouTube video about why vine died. “The word Vine became shorthand for short sketch-comedy videos. We did that. Vine didn’t do that. We changed the culture by making videos on this six-second app.”
“It’s sad the way it went down, but nobody is upset, bitter or angry. Everyone moved on to other platforms,” he added.
Let us take, for example, when you hit 100K subscribers; you get a silver plate. When you hit a million subscribers, you get a gold plate and just recently introduced, If you get more than 10 million subscribers, you get a diamond plate from their office. Where does it all happen? It happens on YouTube. Vine? Nope. The failure to discern their creators which made the app super popular today with their smart, funny 6 second short sketches was the biggest flaw Vine could ever make.
Creators instead focused their efforts on Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube, where King Bach (the “King of Vine”) and sWooZie have been building big followings. “I like YouTube because YouTube is very in touch with creators,” sWooZie told Mic. “They do little things, like, ‘Here’s a $1,000 gift card for some camera equipment.’ Without personalities on your platform, all you have is cat videos and random things people send to each other. It’s junk, and people will leave.”
At present, though many Viners deny that money is not the sole reason they left Vine but somewhere of the other Money DOES come into the characterization. Coming up with innovative and fun content now and then requires a deal of TIME and as the old saying goes, “Time is Money”. It is, indeed. And why not? If these creators spend their time for your app, the app must return this in some way or the other.
For a while, brands were happy to pay Vine stars directly to make ads and share them with their millions of followers. But after Snapchat and Instagram grew into hundreds of millions of daily users, marketers’ interest in Vine dropped significantly. They had once longed for ways to build their own followings on the app — through paid placement offerings similar to Twitter’s promoted tweets and promoted accounts. But Vine never came through with any options, in part because the founders resisted monetization from the start.
Viners saw it coming!
After Twitter announced it would be shutting down vine is the near future, most of the favorite viners were not surprised at all. These creators abandoned Vine a long time ago. In fact, they had already acted out to other popular websites such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube where they felt they could feel secure. This was a better alternative especially in terms of time. Where vine only fettered them to six seconds, other platforms give more time for story-telling.
Facebook began cutting hefty checks to celebrities and other social media stars to get them to live stream on Facebook. Snapchat offered an even younger, faster-growing audience, and both Instagram and Facebook introduced newer monetization tools. It certainly didn’t help Vine that Twitter ultimately launched its own video product, with a much longer time limit.
Influential viners like King Bach and Logan Paul had removed direct mentions of Vine from their social media bios, and many others were posting vines that encouraged followers to subscribe to their channels on YouTube or Facebook.
“I found new ways to connect with my fans,” Logan tells CNBC. “So Facebook, for example, I have 13.1 million fans there. On Instagram, I have almost 7 million.”
While the demise of Vine means one less platform on which he can work with brands, the social media star says he’s sanguine about the new reality.
“We all started to notice our numbers became less and less, while Instagram was growing,” Amanda Cerny, an actress and content creator with 4.7 million followers on Vine, told Mic. “We all started posting [on Instagram] more.”
“There ain’t a Vine star out there who isn’t a millionaire,” said Vine star Alx James “We’ll be fine, but it’s sad the way things worked out.”
Years of executive churn likely contributed to the Vine’s failure to make money.
- Hofmann quit in 2014 to pursue a new startup.
- Kroll followed him out the door later that year.
- Twitter laid off Yusupov, who was Vine’s creative director, as part of last year’s mass layoffs.
Yusupov had started Vine in June 2012 with Dom Hofmann and Colin Kroll but sold it to Twitter in October for a reported $30 million. Considering Vine went on to compete with Instagram, which Citi Group valued at $35 billion at the end of 2014, Rus seems to wish he had tried to run it rather than sell short. Jason Toff took over Vine in 2014 and led it for two years before quitting this year to work on virtual reality projects at Google. Tiff had been leading Vine’s New York team since the beginning of 2014, prior to which he’d worked at YouTube.
Hannah Donovan became general manager in March after working on a series of music startups, but her lack of expertise in such a field just made her hiring, not for the more adept.
Since launching in January 2013, Twitter gave Vine weak support, keeping the product at arm’s length despite cult popularity. While there were small updates to its design, creation tools, and viral hooks, Vine never got the deeper integrations with its bigger parent Twitter to continue growing.
From an intellectual property standpoint, Vine would have never survived. Vine fostered a thriving remix culture built off of piracy and pocket-sized innovation, like all the amazing rap soundscapes that can no longer be released. Before taking its platform to the next level, YouTube had to sort through the debris of significant copyright claims. The complexity of Vine’s references would have ultimately led to its downfall.
This clearly demonstrates that if you don’t keep your users jovial, you might as well be prepared for the consequences. Vine’s acquisition by Twitter gave it a big name to connect itself with, but the lack of foresightedness shown by Twitter left Vine to die, slowly but assuredly.
Twitter has struggled over the years with anaemic user growth and weak advertising revenue. Three years after going public, the company lags far behind titans like Facebook and Google, which together pull in about 85 cents on every dollar spent on online advertising.