Goodbye, Vine: short-form video content evolves

Goodbye, Vine: short-form video content evolves

Posted on: 11 November 2016

And so it goes. Twitter has announced they are discontinuing Vine, the six-second video social platform.

Goodbye Vine: Short-form video content evolves

Of course, there are far bigger events going on in the world at the moment (and yes, Donald Trump was briefly on Vine). But - and stop me if I'm wrong - I can't remember the last time a social media platform was shut down that was hailed with so much potential when it first launched.

The initial reception was warm. In two months, it had become the most downloaded free app on iTunes. As of August 2015, it had 200 million monthly active users. That's a significant number compared to other defunct social media networks, although it's always been questionable about how many of those users were active. Earlier this year, one commentator noted that in just three years, 39 million videos had been uploaded, generating 765 billion views. "Here's to the next three years!" they exclaimed excitedly. Prematurely, it seems.

I confess that here at Ember, it was always a challenge to persuade clients of the value of Vine. The most popular videos were either impressive stop motion clips that we never had the time or resource to commit, or funny videos using "Vine Magic". It had a strong creator community that made great entertainment but it's B2B marketing uses were limited, despite lots of content trying to explain the opposite (such as our very own video blog - don't judge).

An example of "Vine Magic" by Christian Leonard.

So where did it go wrong? I want to point out that just because Vine has been discontinued, that doesn't mean it's a failure. Twitter is still trying to work out how to realise its commercial potential given its significant user base. It has been coy about why they've closed Vine down, but it clearly doesn't fit into their business plan. It's a pragmatic business decision for that particular organisation at this moment in time.

But other services are integrating this type of content into their networks. Even Twitter itself allows you to embed short videos into tweets, which was probably the death knell for its own separate video app.

However, it doesn't mean that short-form social videos are going to disappear. Indeed, short-form videos are going to become (or already are) an integrated part of social media experiences - as Facebook predicted earlier this year. One reason for this is changing trends in how we use our smartphones. If we have a problem or a moment to spare, we instinctively turn to our smartphones. Google calls these "micro-moments".

According to Google, micro-moments are "those moments in which we reflexively turn to a device to act on a need". They concluded from their research into user behaviour that mobile video plays an important part in realising these needs, whether it's to fix something, make a buying decision or entertain ourselves while waiting. Micro-moments require micro-content, and Vine was the pre-cursor to this trend. It may have generated more comedy videos but before it came along, the idea of super short video clips wasn't taken seriously. It was an early sign of a move towards the rich content digital experiences that have become an online standard.

So Vine is defunct but it leaves a legacy. For me, the evolution of digital technology is fascinating. Our expectations of online experiences are changing so fast that we barely notice when something becomes normal. This pace of change is unprecedented in history. As our smartphones and bigger data plans mean that we can stream more video, and investment in video content only increases, short-form video is here to stay.

It'll be easy to laugh and dismiss Vine when we reminisce about it, but it's passing marks another step in these rapidly changing digital trends. At the moment, the massive push is for live video with Facebook Live and Periscope. These aren't the Next Big Thing. They're just the next steps in the development of digital technology.


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Goodbye, Vine: short-form video content evolves

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