“Don’t sell your company!” That’s the way Vine ends. Not with a bang but a tweet. Rus Yusupov may have been one of the founders of the social video service back in the (relatively) dark age of 2012; he may have claimed his share of a reported $30 million payoff from Twitter – but now it’s lights out for Vine, as Twitter winds it down amid a series of cuts. All that’s left is to pick up the pieces and move on – but what can we learn from the demise of Vine?
1. A social service needs ceaseless support
The success of a social platform depends on the quality of its user content – but it also depends on the support of its host. Since acquiring the service in October 2012, Twitter’s active investment in Vine has been somewhat…minimal – and it’s easy to draw a link between that lack of support and a steadily declining user base. People simply weren’t using it enough, and its parent company hasn’t nurtured it enough.
2. Innovation needs to be a constant
Vine was once the most-used video-sharing app in the world; the darling of the social media market. It was so cool! So quirky to have the chance to make a masterpiece in six seconds. But then, that’s where it ended. While Twitter itself, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and others have evolved to stay ahead of the times, Vine was stuck in its own six-second loop. Social media thrives on innovation, and things go stale quickly. To survive, you need to adapt – fast.
3. There’s always something cleverer than yourself
Talking of these other services, and of the nature of innovation, remember the words of Merlin back in the mists of 1981. Take Periscope, for example: something that Twitter acquired in 2015, and seen by many as an indirect successor to Vine. The first nail in the coffin, as it were. Snapchat – smaller, more agile, and able to innovate faster, with similar yet superior short-form video capability. It was these predators and more that edged out the very need for Vine in the social sphere.
4. Business is still business
The lamentations have begun. The obituaries are appearing on tech blogs around the world. Vine is dead, long live Vine. The thing is, when people feel as close to a service as a certain segment of the internet felt to Vine, it’s easy to lose track of the fact that it’s a business. Seen as an augmentation, it enabled people to share snippets of their lives – but it’s still a business, subject to the same pressures as its parent. As we’ve said, this is part of a huge round of cuts and layoffs as the little birds try to angle the lumbering leviathan of Twitter into a new and evolving economic paradigm. This has happened before and it will happen again. Business is business, and Vine is one of the inevitable casualties of forgetting commercial realities.
5. It was fun while it lasted
The thing we loved about Vine: the stories. Critics derided the idea that Vine was a symptom of a dumbed-down, attention-deficit culture. But we say it opened up storytelling to a new, bitesize form. A beginning, a middle, an end, all in six seconds. A story that could make you laugh, cry, ponder. Vine bred new storytellers, and saw their narratives spread across the world. And their stories will still be there, despite Vine’s demise; preserved in digital amber as a reminder of what came before. So, all that’s left to say is this: thanks, Vine. It was fun while it lasted.