By now pretty much everyone has heard that the Vine app is being shut down, but this is one of those things that’s sort of bittersweet.
Although Vine was far from perfect, it was an app that helped to shape social video content marketing and contributed significantly to our current understanding of what it is that social media users want and how to better reach them. The six-second clips in Vine may have felt ridiculously constraining when they were first announced, but they did something to the social media marketing industry that can’t be undone.
Vine’s Revolutionary Roots
When the Vine app was released in June 2012, it emerged into a world that was just starting to really get the hang of social media.
Facebook and Twitter were both well-established powerhouses and social media marketing was starting to really take shape as a viable tool. No one knew where social media content was headed and nothing was really set in stone, leaving the world of marketing incredibly moldable. Then Vine happened, and we could no longer ignore the power of the video clip.
Although Vine only allowed six second videos, this constraint became a challenge rather than a detriment to social media stars and marketers alike. It was fun to try to tell a story in that short amount of time, it was a succinctness we’d not been forced to exercise in a long, long time. In the relative Wild West of social media, Vine was bringing a new idea to life. Snapchat caught on to the concept of short video and started allowing 10-second clips, Instagram and Facebook got into the video game as well. That was how Vine planted the seeds of video content marketing.
What Went Wrong for the Vine App
Vine was such a hit that Twitter moved to scoop it up for a whopping $30 million in October 2012, just months after the app was founded.
At the time, Twitter could see the potential of the platform, but it was also desperately trying to find a way to bolster its own popularity. It was searching for something to buoy it, but Vine wasn’t really fully ripe yet and so failed to perform in that arena. Those six-second videos were being used more for personal creativity than for marketing, and that meant the Vine app wasn’t bringing in much money.
The lack of income was one serious problem, but it was one of many with Vine and the Vine-Twitter marriage. From the beginning, Vine was an app without a direction. The New York-based home office struggled to build a user base and had no real plan for monetization. In an interview with The Verge, Ankur Thakkar, a former Vine editorial executive, divulged that “a couple of things plagued Vine, and it all stems from the same thing, which is a lack of unity and leadership on a vision.”
That lack of unity and vision had wide-ranging impacts, but the biggest was that Vine wasn’t able to move fast enough when competitors like Snapchat and Facebook started offering similar features. Thakkar went on to explain that the lack of unity and leadership “trickled down into all of the project teams and the things they were working on. Vine didn’t ship anything of consequence for a year.”
Because of these massive platform issues, Vine stars eventually found other mediums, and their fans went with them. The environment and feel of Vine changed dramatically, audiences changed and eventually no one was really interested anymore since having the same features on other social media platforms would condense their social media world a bit.
Vine could have been a pretty neat thing, but a perfect storm of bad leadership, poor planning and the acquisition by a floundering platform basically guaranteed the app that changed how social media viewed video was headed for a dead end. We can learn a lot from the demise of an app with so much potential, but the biggest take-away must be that apps and even marketing campaigns need direction, appropriate funding and a united plan in order to succeed.