Dec 3, 2020
Vine — A reflection on assumptions and failures
Over the years, social media has become increasingly prevalent and integrated into people’s everyday lives. With this market becoming increasingly saturated and dominated by giants such as Instagram and Tik Tok, Vine is a platform that still comes up in conversation from time to time. Its short-form video sharing format and endless memes are still seen and quoted today. In this article, I will explore Vine’s rise and fall, and takeaways for apps of the future.
In 2012, Vine launched as a short-form video hosting service where users could share 6-second long video clips. Its founders, Dom Hofmann, Rus Yusupov, and Colin Kroll, originally intended it to be a micro-blogging platform where people could capture their everyday moments to share with their friends. The direction it ended up taking surprised the founders and set in motion what it would soon become. Users took the 6-second limit as a creative challenge and what came was an explosion of hilarious looped content and constant experimentation. At its height, Vine had over 30 million active users (those who created an account), over 300 million videos, and generated tens of billions of loops (views).
Vine’s success did not last long however. As it grew, other competitors were vigilant with not falling behind, and began adding more and more features. In June 2013, Instagram added 15 second video clips, and eventually bumped it up to 60 seconds. Vine assumed that its 6-second limit would be enough a differentiator to keep content creators and users on its platform. What they didn’t realize at the time was that this constraint did not give its creators a chance to experiment with other short-form video formats. By the time they bumped up the video limit, it was too late.
Another shortcoming was its reluctance to capitalize on the monetization of its content. Vine’s founders were hesitant to allow monetization on its platform fearing it would take away from the purpose of the app. Instead of allowing brands to directly sponsor the app and promote their products and services, brands would partner directly with content creators and and pay them directly. This worked fine while Vine still had hundreds of millions of active users. As other social media platforms were growing in their number of daily active users, brands and creators found it more lucrative to diversify the platforms they were on. Once Vine’s top creators left the platform, their followers soon followed. The dwindling number of users hurt Vine and it was hard to bounce back from.
Although Vine is no longer around, its shortcomings can serve as a lesson to up and coming and existing social media apps as well. In order to stay relevant, Vine needed to continuously innovate to differentiate itself. By sticking with its original format, it boxed itself in while other apps were expanding and attracting more users as a byproduct.
Additionally, as noble as the founders’ intention was to not allow monetization, it made it harder for popular content creators to make money from their work. Moving forward, Vine should have worked towards finding a monetization model that worked for it and its content creators. By allowing creators to monetize their content and brands to advertise products in a creative way, Vine could have incentivized their creators to stay on the platform while being profitable.
Vine’s existence has left lasting technological and cultural impacts can not be ignored and hopefully future apps can take note so they don’t suffer the same fate.