Everybody’s talking about video marketing strategy these days, but one video sharing platform seems to be shut out of the conversation: Vine.
Research shows that Vine, the six-second video sharing app owned by Twitter, is hemorrhaging users. According to Markerly, more than half (52 percent) of Vine’s most-followed users have left the platform as of Jan. 1.
That shift is unusual, given how video views have dramatically risen in general. But Vine’s potential demise suggests that brands will need to watch the video wars carefully. Just as some platforms boom, others may suddenly go bust.
Back when Vine launched in 2013, it quickly generated buzz as the next “it” social media app. Vine earned kudos as the year’s fastest-growing app ever at the end of 2013, logging 403 percent audience growth and beating Flickr, Instagram, and WhatsApp in a landslide, MarketingCharts reported.
Vine’s timing was perfect. Early 2013 was the eve of the video revolution, and the platform proved a surprisingly fun way to tell a six-second micro-story. Vine user Zach King earned notoriety for his smartly edited, playful videos that thrived on blink-or-you’ll-miss-it visual illusions.
However, power users like King aren’t posting as much as they once did. King has uploaded an average one video per month this year. In lieu of Vine, much of his content has migrated to YouTube.
The Atlantic noted that other top users are posting less, too. PewDiePie, the popular YouTube comedian, hasn’t posted on Vine since 2014, despite 1.4 million followers on the platform. Justin Bieber hasn’t shared a Vine with his 5 million Beliebers since January 2016. And among the top 1,000 accounts that are still posting on the platform, many are averaging just one or two Vines per month, down from several each week in 2015. Overall engagement peaked in 2014 and has been in decline since then.
So why the mass exodus?
Simply put, something better came along.
Instagram added video in 2013; Facebook ramped up its video capabilities with autoplay not long after. And, lest we forget the advent of Snapchat—a platform with the same quirky, silly culture as Vine, but without a six-second restriction on the content.
As users abandon Vine, brands are following suit. According to Adweek, data from Tubular Labs showed that Vine videos accounted for just four percent of all social videos posted during a two-month span by the top 40 major brands, including Coca-Cola, Target, and Dunkin’ Donuts. The number of brands posting to Vine appeared to be decreasing as well.
Top Viners do still command a huge share of views—according to data from Tubular Insights, they drove a combined total of over a billion views in June 2016. However, overall interest on the app seems to be shifting from users sharing everyday videos to entertainment, as Mediakix noted. People watch Vines by content creators and social media stars, but they no longer create them like they used to.
Users are always on the hunt for the next big thing, and tastes in social networks can be fickle. (Remember Myspace, anyone?)
For brands, the trick is timing. Interest in apps can be fleeting; for brands, that means the opportunities are fleeting, too. Nimble brands that jumped on Vine during its peak could take advantage of a stronger, more engaged user base. Brands that waited missed the boat for maximum exposure.
This “early bird catches the worm” theme is mirrored in other areas. Businesses that created early tie-ins to the Pokemon Go mobile game could ride the buzz to increased foot traffic. But once the traditional and social media buzz dies down and traffic dips—as it has already, SurveyMonkey said—the window for maximum impact has closed.
Of course, being nimble enough to invest in the latest social media platform takes time and resources. You need an agile team that can shape your brand’s content and video marketing strategy for that particular platform, because one-size-fits-all-platforms marketing doesn’t work in today’s world.
Brands hoping to target early adopters and lovers of new technology (like teens) might put a premium on building a team ready to pivot to the next platform at a moment’s notice. For other brands, racing from new app to new app is neither practical nor effective. For those companies, sticking to more traditional networks—such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube—makes more sense.
Teaming up with influencers offers another way to ride the buzz bandwagon. Instead of building a cache of content and followers from the ground up, brands can partner with influencers to share their message. Social media influencers often have followings across platforms, (Instagram, Vine, YouTube, Snapchat, etc.) making it easier for brands to extend their reach.
For now, Snapchat seems to have taken over as the social app for video. The ephemeral messaging app now has over a 150 million users, making it more popular than Twitter by daily active users, Bloomberg reported. But when the app eventually monetizes, users could be turned off. Another, cleverer app could swoop in to woo users hungry for the next cool new thing—already, Instagram’s new Stories feature seems to be gunning for Snapchatters’ attention. And you never know: the Yo app could make a triumphant return…
But for brands dealing in buzz, one cardinal rule should be followed: act fast, lest your platform become too stale to be effective. And once an app falls into decline, cut your losses. There’s no sense staying with a once-hyped app if the audience is no longer there to make it worthwhile.