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Heard it on the grapevine: Why Vine only made ripples, not waves

The almost lacklustre announcement of Vine’s closure by Twitter yesterday summed up the social network's approach to the six-second video platform since it was started in June 2012.

It was always an unsuccessful wing man to Twitter; funny, intelligent and a platform for the extremely creative. Sometimes left behind and often forgotten about, Vine brought video to the social network before Twitter decided to add native video and it did in a way that was original. Is it really surprising that Twitter has decided to close a platform whose only real traffic was brought via word of mouth (or Marni the Dog)?

Before you try and second guess me let me say this: Vine was an absolute haven for creativity. During early 2013 and 2014, I constantly kept finding myself falling into a Vine-hole (definition: Vine-hole – Watching three hours plus of six-second videos, usually pausing on the same one for 10 minutes or more) due to the severe creativity of the creators. It’s not easy to create a brilliant Vine video.

The ripples, not waves

Have you tried making a Vine video? You have. Cool. What was it? Exactly. It was probably something quite mundane as there was the ‘need’ to be on the service but not exactly the want. It’s this mindset that Vine severely suffered from when trying to appeal to brands. Creating a perfect Vine video took a dedicated department if you were a brand or a creative team who really understood the platform. The best Vine videos from a brand combined both of those above options to create memorable six-second videos but it wasn’t enough to even keep Oreo (one of the best creators) on the service. And why is it that? Brilliant Vines are not easy to make.

Perfect social media content is content that can cause a reaction, an engagement, an action through limited space. Those 140 characters of a tweet have to be calculated perfectly to provoke a reaction; if they don’t, it’s just another broadcast message shouted into the ether without any real point. The majority of the population can write but can everyone tell a story that’s entertaining, emotional, funny in just six seconds? That’s what the best Vine creators did very well.

If a user didn’t get an immediate knee-jerk reaction on the platform then that eroded any interest in having a presence, so instead of continuing and attempting to create waves, a standard Vine user did the ‘MySpace-sigh’ and became happy with just a casual ripple. (Here’s proof: my personal Vine account shows the cycle of interest when a creative attempts to get back on board with a service.)

What was the death of the service?

Is it because Twitter is looking for a buyer and wants to make the service more attractive? Vine has been thought of as being an inadequate tag-along for Twitter so by dropping the service but keeping its legacy (Twitter will keep all videos public and downloadable) it removes the need to devote resources to its upkeep. Video has now become part of Twitter, so why keep alive a service that only allows six seconds instead of the now two minutes and 20 seconds (what?) allowed natively.

There’s no denying that the rise of Instagram and Snapchat may have put the sword to Vine; the functionality on those services offers way more than just surpassing the original idea of six-second video. The creative and influencer communities on Snapchat/Instagram are far superior to that of Vine, as are the available options when it comes to revenue sharing, promotional posts and more (thank you to @Casualsheets and @bluechoochoo for this spreadsheet link). Vine never really sorted out the needs of its creative influencers which then meant said influencers moved on.

Vine didn’t fail because it was rubbish or that it was a dying platform. Vine is no more because it was misunderstood and when you’re a company trying to sell, it makes sense to cut your losses even if one of those losses is an Academy Award masterpiece disguised as six seconds of video. The social media community will mourn its loss, like it does everything, but I think the death of Vine is summed up perfectly by the following quote.

"The best tribute for Vine would be a succinct six second statement and I can't even manage that."

- Siân Melton - Freelance Social Media Manager

From the Community

Whilst writing this article, I asked my Twitter community for their thoughts on the death of the service. Here they are:

Adam Libonatti-Roche is head of social at The Drum

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Adam Libonatti-Roche

Head of Social at The Drum, you can usually find Adam talking bluntly about social media, creativity and more. A huge video game and wrestling fan (Progress Wrestling and WWE of course), he has his Twitter DM's open just in case you have the next big idea. Send him them and he'll always reply.

He also runs #SMBuzzChat that takes place every Tuesday on The Social Buzz Awards Twitter feed.

Find him on Snapchat/Instagram/Twitter at baconchin

All by Adam