Dear Vine, we hardly knew you. And now, it’s officially the end.
As the reports broke of Twitter announcing plans to kill off Vine, the short form video app it acquired four years ago, the internet was in shock and in mourning of this huge cultural loss. While Vine was once a huge part of social entertainment and one of the top five most downloaded entertainment apps in the iOS store at it’s peak, the competition from Instagram and Snapchat was clearly too much to overcome.
We can all act surprised, but the truth is many in the industry saw it coming (“How Snapchat Killed Vine”), as did the Viners. Twitter launched Vine in January 2013. Six months later, Vine had 13 million regular users. Three months after that, its total users had tripled. But in June 2013, Instagram introduced video to its app, allowing users to record up to 15 seconds, and now more recently 60 seconds. With a network 10 times greater, it became an instant threat.
Meanwhile, Snapchat posed another threat: both apps targeted the same demographic of teens, while it's 10 second video was more attactive than the 6 second Vine. Snapchat and Instagram also added other popular functionalities, like image filters and extensions that Vine didn't have. Among some of the biggest problems Vine was facing included a means to address harassment, the ability to insert links to captions, improved recommendation pages, and better editing tools. Most of these problems were never addressed.
Sure enough, Vine started losing valuable market share to Instagram and Snapchat. While Vine opened the doors and gave them exposure, it was their flexibility and focus on innovation that drove most Vine stars and brands to these alternative social media platforms. Production among some of the top Viners has slowed since, and many Vine profiles now encourage their followers to watch their new videos on other social media sites.
According to Cody Johns, former Vine superstar who was once drawing millions of views per month for a short comedy video, “The smart people played their cards right, we had a great run and we monetized our brands." He’s since gone on to appear in TV shows and movies and invest in a hoverboard company and hasn't made a living off Vine "in several months."
For others, including Meagan Cignoli “Queen of Vines,” the end of Vine is a warning. "It's a really sad moment, it really shows you can't base your entire career on one app because it can change within seconds.”
As Twitter sunsets Vine, it’s a good reminder about the speed of social media and how quickly platforms are evolving. In the end, a platform's greatest asset is their user base, and innovating is the key to staying in the game.