To be honest, I didn't really understand the appeal of Vine until I met my wife. Being from Alabama, Vine wasn't that big of a part of media consumption among my friends and I. Yet, in Florida, a different story seemed to be occuring. People here love Vine. Its kind of crazy.
Every time I found myself using other social media, I kept wondering why I wasn't engaging more on Vine. I would hear stories from my wife and my friends about how x was really funny on Vine. It felt in many ways like a digital comedy club where something new and breaking was always happening. Excepet, I was missing out on all the good stuff.
I eventually grew to love the platform and (like many) was pretty bummed when Twitter announced they were sunsetting it later this year. So, what was so great about Vine? Why will we miss it? I wanted to offer a few thoughts about its short-lived life.
Discovering a New Waterfront
First, I want to start with my initial frustation with Vine: Discovering new content. Currently, I don't even bother with trying to use the app to find viral vines. I just watch compilation videos on Youtube.
This is kind of a bummer because Vine certainly doesn't see any of that money. Neither do the creators. Yet, as a selfish consumer, its a lot easier for me to just sit down and watch an hours worth of Vines instead of scrolling through a roughly curated list that sometimes repeats itself.
As a platform, Vine should want to attempt to keep new users. By downloading the app for the first time, there's a limited time of engagement for each user. During their trial period with the platform, it should be doing everything to help me understand how to create and how to consume.
I think Vine does an excellent job teaching you how to create. However, it does not do a great job at helping you consume new media or be inspired. An effective discovery feature didn't make its way on the platform until last year. This is disheartening because the discovery feature is really great.
The Best Kept Secrets
Part of the illusion and mystery of Vine is how well the six-second medium empowered people of all walks to create good art. Unlike YouTube, it didn't really matter how much editig or filming resources you had. Some of the best clips on the service were recorded on the fly with primative equipment.
Because anyone could be creating some extermely viral content, there was always this feeling that there was always something new out there to discover. Vine felt like an endless festival where the each band is undiscoverd and about to spread like wildfire.
Maybe this is where Vine had a hard time curating an effective Discover feature. You coud rely on your breadbasket of popular creators? Yet, what fun is it to be "safe" in discovery?
The discovery problem might have ultimately have been an issue that prevented Vine from blossoming into a giant media platform.
Twitter's Best Asset
An important chapter in the history of Vine was its aquisition by Twitter. Twitter helped Vine become a more prominent platform, but it also seemed to never know what to do with it. To some, it felt like Vine was like a toy that just sat in the corner of Twitter's closet.
It also seems that Vine's aquisition was eventually overshadowed when Twitter gnabbed up Periscope. While Periscope was the most recent platform aquisition by Twitter, I still believe that Vine had the most effective integration with Twitter. Being able to embed vines within tweets really spiced up Twitter for me. I think it makes a lot of sense to combine a limited-length video platform with a "micro-blogging" platform.
Its a bummer that they pretty much started to drain resources from Vine's development team and focus them towards other things. Maybe the problem with Vine is that advertising (and thus monetization) was tricky as well. You had to either rely on static ads or covince advertisers to create Vines that could be embedded as ads.
Sponsored content found some success on the platform. However, it seemed increasingly obivious that those deals were made from direct interactions only brands and creators. It seems that Twitter was unfortunatley never able to grab a piece of the pie.
See You Soon
Either way, money or no money, I think Vine will be missed. I don't know if it could have been a big social media giant if it hadn't of sold early. What I do know is that it could have been a big money maker for Twitter if they had given it a little more attention.
Selling isn't always the best thing for you platform. It must be hard for Vine's creators to watch their idea fade into obscurity. I hope that the success and ideals of the platform will find a new home somewhere else. We need Vine's unique creators and attitude towards creating out there. The internet needs it.
Here's to a six-second future.