Before the idea of Tiktok was even conceived, Vine came up with shorter-form videos as a social media platform. Selfies are becoming a trend back then and the idea for Vine was born out of it, what if instead of longer videos like YouTube, we have smaller ones with a cap on the length of the video to just 6 seconds. This seemed to be so good of an idea, that Twitter actually bought the platform before the app was even officially launched for $30M in 2012. And it also made sense, since Twitter was built on the same idea of a shorter format, with 140 character limit to a tweet. But sadly for them, Vine never took off and was eventually shut down in 2017.
Vine had massive popularity, with views in billions, and has been a cultural phenomenon of viral videos and memes. It had 200M users at one point. Despite that Vine struggled to keep going and Twitter had to kill it. Below are the reasons why it was so.
No Creator monetization
This has been the major reason for the downfall of Vine. In spite of having massive views and popularity, Vine didn’t have any monetization for the content creators to benefit from. So even with views in billions, the people who made the videos didn’t make any money from the app directly. They had to partner with brands who in turn paid for advertising the brand. This made the content creators incredibly angry and frustrated since they’ve built the user base for Vine with their content. So they slowly started moving to other platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and later on Tiktok which gave incredible ways to make money off of the content they made. This meant they also took their followers with them. And larger advertisers also jumped ship.
No App Monetization
Vine also didn’t have any in-app monetization to generate revenue. While other social platforms like Facebook and Instagram allowed advertising spots on the app and websites, Vine didn’t have any of this, mainly not to hamper user experience and to grow rapidly. And by the time they decided to put ads, the creators and advertisers have already moved on.
Skewed creator audience ratio
The majority of the vine users are Passive viewers who just watched, while very few people actually created the content, similar to YouTube. Almost 95% of the views were accounted for by just a handful of creators. So users had lesser engagement while other social apps has more avenues for engagement. So users didn’t have any affinity to stick with Vine and are more creator centric rather than platform-centric.
The short form idea was novel, but competitors started bringing the same feature in a better way soon. Instagram launched shorter videos up to 15 seconds long, and they also had celebrities and creators with larger following, while Vine only had commoners who grew indigenously. So it got harder and harder for them to compete.
Snapchat, which initially had short-form videos just for personal messaging, also brought sharing to multiple people. And Snapchat was already becoming the most used social app by teenagers.
And the 6-second limit which actually made the app blow up slowly started turning out into a crutch. They refused to bump the limit for a long time, while other platforms exploited it for greater gains. By the time they raised it, it was too late.
No In-App Tools
Since Vine was envisioned as a spontaneous microvloggig platform, they didn’t put any content creation tools like editors, filters, and other multimedia that other apps had. So users had to do all this processing in third-party apps and then upload it to Vine. This became cumbersome.
Leadership turnover was higher, and two of its founders left in just 1 year of its existence. And Vine went through multiple leadership changes in the next few years.
Even though they’re owned by Twitter, they worked as a separate entity with no clear roadmap for the future. There was no substantial update or new features for more than a year after the launch. And to make matters worse, Twitter launched shorter videos on their own platform, while Vine already existed, a very bad strategy to have a competing product in your own offerings.