Vine Lives On
Fifteen minutes of fame; the idiom of a short-lived media publicity or notoriety applies to the quickly popular six second looping video app that arrived with a huge following and rapid demise. Although the days of Vine are behind us, it inspired other video platforms and created a legacy that will live on for generations to come.
Vine was a social networking application focused on six-second looping video content. Users would tell stories, in the span of six seconds, that would replay over and over. The application was to short videos as Instagram was to snapshots, allowing users to shoot, edit, and share short video clips through a mobile application. Vine was founded by Dom Hofmann, Rus Yusupov, and Colin Kroll and purchased by Twitter in 2012. Vine launched on mobile devices in 2013 and quickly became a phenomenon, rising to the top of iOS app charts within a few months. Although other mobile video sharing apps existed prior to Vine, its rapid success led it to become the most popular in the market. It was the most downloaded free mobile app in the iOS app store in April 2013.
Vine displayed a simplistic interface including a feed of looping videos and a press and hold setup to record through the in-app camera. The design of the interface was fresh; there were no play, pause or record buttons, or blinking red lights, users just pressed and held the mobile device screen to record and released it to stop. Users were drawn to the app’s ease of accessibility and unique homemade feel. Vine differed from the other video apps on the market at the time by allowing users to quickly grab snippets of video and splice them together rather than only allowing one continuous shot like the other competing apps. Vine made recording and posting video simple so almost anyone with a smart phone could do it.
Vine was used for many different types of content such as comedy skits, music covers, stop motion animation, and news coverage. One specific use was for hyperlocal news. Many small communities, agencies, and news outlets used Vine to share local items of interest. Creators experimented with the new service generating viral trends and memes and rapidly grew in popularity. Within a few months, creators had gone mainstream and were given the name “Viners.”
My interest in Vine was developed due to a fascination in how it could exponentially expand a fanbase for a relatively unknown artist. Many musicians embraced Vine as a means of connecting with their fans, and Vine launched careers in the entertainment industry. Creators strive to grow new trends in popular culture by popularizing a song or a dance move in an effort to have it catch on or go viral. In this way, they are able to enlarge their fan base and reach new users in the online community. Artists would debut snippets of songs and also share self-recordings of themselves interacting with their concert attendees from live shows.
Singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes began posting singing clips on Vine in 2013. He felt that YouTube was already saturated with content by other artists, while no one was posting short song covers on Vine. Whether he sang a capella or with a guitar or piano, Mendes learned the invaluable skill of grabbing the audience’s attention in just six short seconds. He came to fame on Vine by posting covers of popular songs. The Vine platform provided him with the opportunity for his fans to relate to him. His following was cultivated more like a singer with friends who got to know him on Vine, rather than the stereotypical singing artists that are propped up by large marketing teams. It is this authenticity that helped him to reach and maintain stardom. By 2016 when Vine shut down, Mendes had over a half a billion views and a supportive fan base.
With Vine’s success, other social media networks had begun to introduce video into their own platforms. In June of 2013, Instagram launched video sharing, the beginning of the end for Vine. Vine did not sell ads to advertisers, and while those advertisers could hire popular “Viners” to promote sponsored posts, that money did not go to Vine. Vine could not compete with the new features of other apps rolling out every few weeks and saw a decline in relevance as users shifted to other platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube. A lack of resources and an inability to compete led to the downfall of Vine. In 2016, Twitter announced that Vine would be discontinued.
While Vine is no longer a service, the genre and nature of Vine content lives on. Vine has made a huge impact on the online video space in its four-year run and became an inspiration for apps such as TikTok. Vine was a pioneer in the social media market, and its revolutionary six-second clips still live on today through frequent references.
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