I wore all black to work today, not realizing that I was unintentionally prepared for a funeral – a death in the family.
Somehow, I had subconsciously prepared for the announcement that sent shockwaves through the social media and millennial world: Vine, the beloved video-looping app, is officially going to its grave. This is no Halloween prank, folks. Over the next few months, Vine will phase out and eventually be defunct.
For the uninitiated, Vine was the leader in the video-centric content realm when it first launched in 2013. Bursting onto the scene pre-Snapchat, pre-Instagram video, and pre-Facebook Live meant that Vine set the rules of the video streaming game. With its quirky concept of constantly looping each clip, to its arbitrarily strict six second limit, Vine was new, unique and offered a platform for creativity like never before.
It stuck. “Vine stars” were born – from whacky teenagers willing to do anything for a laugh (hence the trend: “do it for the Vine!”) to mother/son duos and full family Vine teams, creators carved out the niche of what it meant to be a Viner. Brands even found clever ways to engage audiences using the short-form video. The app’s success soared, and it probably didn’t hurt that it was backed by Twitter, its parent company, even before its launch.
When I first heard the news about Vine’s unenviable death via its own statement, I couldn’t help but reminisce on the hilarious, viral and transformative content Vine has brought to the social media sphere. I can safely say that I have been brought to stomach-aching laughing fits (complete with mascara tears) by some of the six-second loops Vine has hosted in its day. See below for a few of all-time my favorites. (For an added challenge, try to watch these without cracking a smile.)
So, what does this lesson in fail fast tell us? Content was hardly Vine’s downfall in the end. Indeed, content may have been the only saving grace Vine still offered in terms of real value, considering the app still sees over 200 million viewers per month. Although there has yet to be an official statement as to why the app is being discontinued, theories are abundant – a failure to innovate, too much competition, no real revenue model, a lack of advertising. It is also very possible that Twitter pulled the plug for all these reasons and just couldn’t to justify its upkeep. Twitter’s problems may be even deeper. It also announced it would cut roughly 300 employees from its team as early as this week.
Regardless of the why, the what remains: Vine will soon be gone, leaving behind millions of content creators in need of another place to create and distribute content. For the “vine stars” that worked to gain millions of followers, hashed out sponsorship deals, and built up stardom, this blow will certainly hit them hardest. Some have even begun to lament via their beloved video loops, asking followers and fans to migrate to other social media platforms instead.
Above all, the life and death of the great looping app speaks to the fragility of the social media world. Even with great content, active creators, and backing from another social media giant, Vine simply fell by the wayside. In the same way that the content on social media must be great to do well, the actual platforms also need to keep up with the demand for innovation. It just doesn’t cut it to be good enough anymore – social media must push boundaries, constantly improve, and stay ahead of trends in order to avoid getting left behind. Otherwise, they’ll be the next platform buried alongside Vine in the social media graveyard as the “next big thing” takes the social world by storm.
#RIPVine, you will be missed (until something else comes along.)