In light of Twitter’s recent news it is to close social video app, Vine, the time feels apt to reflect on the rise and fall of Vine, where its jilted users will go, and what the future holds for social media marketers in this space.
This time last year Vine claimed a user count of 200 million, but recent analysis published in May 2016 reported that 52% of Vine’s influencers (i.e. active users with 15,000 followers or more) had left the platform since Jan 2016. Where had they gone?
The Rise and Fall of Vine
Twitter purchased Vine, a free mobile app that allows you to create and share 6 second videos, back in 2012. The app was made available to Apple devices in January 2013; a timely launch to coincide with the ‘bitesize’ social sharing trend made popular by Twitter. As with the 140 character limit, the challenge was set to do more with less. Users of the app had 6 seconds in which to entertain, inform or educate their audience. It grew quickly, giving rise to a unique strain of internet celebrity famous for 6 second loop videos.
When immensely popular photo-sharing app, Instagram, made video sharing available in June 2013, many were quick to cry out the demise of Vine. Still it prevailed, and retained a relatively healthy community of loyal, active users. By the end of 2015 things had started to slide.
One of the most damning contributors to Vine’s downfall was the mass exodus of celebrities and influencers, such as King Bach and Zach King, to other platforms that provided a more lucrative outlet for their content (i.e. YouTube, Instagram). When users of this status exit a platform, they naturally take their audience with them.
Another key factor was the rise of superior apps in the form of Snapchat and, later, Instagram Stories. Even though Snapchat was far from a like-for-like comparison, Vine became outdated quickly and was no longer the app of the moment. In the same month news broke that Vine was haemorrhaging its users, Snapchat’s were reported to be watching 10 billion videos a day – a figure that had grown by 4 billion in just 6 months.
The answer to, ‘which came first, the influencers or the audience?’ isn’t always black and white, but Snapchat attracted a lot of new users on its own merit. Snapchat was ‘something new’ – different to other apps on the market. Compared to Vine, it was more technologically sophisticated, more personal, easier to use and more interactive – integration with the contacts already on your phone made it easy to build a network of friends.
When Instagram Stories was released, it seemed like a no-brainer. Instagram was already immensely popular and well established in its own right. Many of the people users were interacting with on Snapchat, they were also interacting with on Instagram – plus a lot more that they weren’t.
It’s hard to quantify how big a part Snapchat and Instagram Stories played in the closure of Vine. More likely, it was a combination of many apps – including the rise of live stream video – and the diversification of social sharing in recent years that Vine sadly failed to keep up with.
The Next Generation: Snapchat and Instagram Stories
Snapchat is not new to the scene. Having originally launched in 2011, the app has undergone a dramatic reinvention in recent times which has seen video views increase by 400% year on year since 2015. As a result, Snapchat has surged to the top of the social media app league table – knocking Twitter off first place in daily usage.
The meteoric rise of Snapchat can, in-part, be attributed to taking something Vine started and running with it. Snapchat took the short and punchy video style of Vine and combined it with integrated photo sharing, a highly visual and personal interface, fun customisation features – including unique facial mapping technology – and a ‘My Story’ feature. All of these features were designed to help users and would-be influencers create more bespoke and in-the-moment content.
Instagram famously released its Stories feature earlier this year which allows users to share photos and videos of their day, with the option of text and drawing tools, that delete after 24 hours. Sounds familiar. Upon its launch, many were quick to blast it a ripoff of Snapchat. However, in an interview with TechCrunch, Instagram’s CEO admitted, ‘They deserve all the credit,’ but continued, ‘This isn’t about who invented something. This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it.’ These comments indicate something larger than just a one-off app, but rather a shift change in social sharing and the way users, including brands, interact through these platforms.
How brands can get on board
The mass migration of users from Vine to other social platforms is a pertinent issue for brands. In particular, those that rely on influencer outreach and native content as a core part of their marketing strategy.
Brands on Instagram is nothing new but, with Snapchat, it wasn’t until the release of Discover that native brand content on the platform really came to the fore. Discover kicked off with eleven launch partners including National Geographic, Vice, and Cosmopolitan. The list of Discover partners has now surpassed 20-odd, and many of these media companies employ entire teams whose responsibility it is to create Snapchat content.
Snapchat’s policy on Discover partnerships is selective. However, there’s nothing to stop any brand creating their own Snapchat account and amassing an audience via high quality content, strategic influencer campaigns and leveraging their existing social following on other channels.
For businesses targeting a younger demographic, Snapchat is especially relevant. The most recent disclosed figures report that Snapchat reaches 41% of 18-34 year olds in the US everyday, and 1 in 3 Smartphone owners in the UK also login to the app everyday.
Yet, Snapchat has proven difficult for brands to break into organically. This is not surprising. Snapchat is, by nature, tricky to organise and manage on a team-wide scale, and there are limited guidelines as to what constitutes quality branded Snapchat content. However, there are some notable examples of innovative campaigns from the likes of Audi and their Super Bowl Sunday campaign in collaboration with The Onion, to H&M’s secret party treasure hunt and McDonalds’ LeBron James influencer campaign. For those who favour the pay-to-play approach Snapchat has recently expanded its advertising offering with sponsored geofilters, lenses and paid advertising space in between Snaps.
Instagram Stories is an interesting progression. Earlier in 2016, an update to the newsfeed algorithm seemed to signal the end for brands on Instagram. However, with the introduction of Instagram Stories, placed at the top of the user interface in the feed, brands actually now have the opportunity to place content in their audience’s eyeline even more prominently than before. Infact, recent results published by Business Insider report that, in the first month following its launch, Instagram Stories generated an additional 5.2million video views across Insider’s three accounts.
What’s more, recent news that Facebook is experimenting with a number of Snapchat-style technologies to enhance the recently launched Live video feature indicates that this space is definitely one to watch. Afterall, Facebook remains to be where the majority of people’s friends, and thus the audience, are.
All things considered, be it Snapchat, Instagram Stories, Facebook or the ‘Next Big Thing’ – there’s certainly scope for brands in this space. But live-updated content can be tricky to plan and manage from a social media marketing perspective.
How ContentCal can help
Potential pitfalls of a live and ad-hoc posting style are lack of consistency and infrequency of content – we recently covered more on this here – but there are ways to bring teams together and pool innovative content ideas.
- Add Snapchat and/or Instagram Stories as a custom planning channel. Bring teams together to collaborate and plan your publishing schedule on a day-to-day basis.
- A visual editorial calendar provides full visibility of what is going out across all your channels at any time, with placeholder posts which can be added as reminders for team members to post pre-planned live video on a particular time and date
- Plan and publish a regular stream of posts to your brand’s social channels directing followers to your Snapchat or Instagram account
- Pool ideas for campaigns and posts with ContentCal’s Plan feature – a hub to store thoughts, key dates and information and assets