Or how I lost my faith in my once favourite social network.
I compile a monthly round-up of the best branded Vines of the month. I’ve been doing so since late 2013, which is around half of its life.
Now here’s where things get brutally honest. Here’s where I let you peek behind the curtain of the blog. Prepare yourself…
The fall of Vine
The popularity of the monthly Vine round-up is waning. Significantly.
In 2013, the Vine round-ups were exceeding 5,000 page impressions a month, then in the first half of 2014 around 3,000 impressions, now they barely break the 1,000 mark.
You could argue that this is a natural drop-off. Any hip new social platform will have marketers jumping on board, keen to see how it works and eager to read any tips and advice available or see inspirational examples.
A plateau is inevitable, especially if the platform itself isn’t showing massive growth and its own functionality remains stubbornly rigid.
Marketers soon figured Vine out, they soon learnt what worked and what didn’t, and whether it was right for their brand or not.
Either way, it’s still a remarkably accessible platform to get to grips with. The network is straightforward, the tool is easy to use, Twitter integration comes as standard therefore sharing is a simple.
The difficulty lies in utilising your own creativity to make something interesting. More on that later.
The rise of Instagram
We also can’t downplay the role of Instagram and its own video making tool, introduced 18 months ago in order to directly take the edge away from Vine. Despite my attempts to defend the fledgling platform, Instagram has definitely caused Vine’s growth to slow.
On the blog, the Instagram video round-ups have been a great success. The first few posts published between 2013 and the beginning of 2014 regularly exceeded 10,000 impressions.
Then of course came the natural plateau. Instagram round-ups dropped off to around 3,000 impressions. However the most recent round-up, published just a few days ago, has achieved nearly 6,000 impressions.
As far as the blog is concerned, we have gathered a large committed audience that wants to see regular content on Instagram videos, however our audience’s desire to see Vine videos has hit a brick wall.
You can blame Instagram, you can blame the fickle nature of social media users, you can even blame Vine itself for not integrating with Facebook and other non-Twitter networks properly, but there are other fundamental factors at play.
The problems with Vine
Inherently, there’s the very format of Vine. Six seconds of constantly looping footage.
The concise nature of Vine was always going to be a problem, but all the best brands chose to use this to their advantage and create something they never would have achieved in a longer format.
However these same brands have also managed to create the very formats which are routinely copied by other brands and that now making Vine a fairly unimaginative place to be.
Here’s a rundown of the most overused formats:
The random selector
The hand-drawn racing car driving around a notepad
The repurposed extreme sports footage clearly not originally filmed on a phone
The mini movie remake
The life hack
The surprise reveal
And claymation. So much bloody claymation.
Like I said, these are all great Vines, but I just see the same thing every month.
Marketers shouldn’t necessarily be blamed for this paucity of ideas. It’s the tight constraints of Vine itself that mean only a relatively small amount of formats can actually work.
If you triple this running time to 15 seconds, suddenly an exponential number of storytelling formats open up, as do the creative possibilities.
You have to work so much harder to be original on Vine than you do on Instagram, and being as Vine has a much smaller audience, it’s easy to question what the point is.
If you search for ‘best Vines’ you will basically see a cavalcade of cleavage and people hurting themselves in playgrounds. It’s not a terribly mature or responsible place to hang out. There are very few ideas floating around in the non-branded world. No wonder brands keep going back to the same handful of expert Viners to create their content for them.
Which leads to the next problem…
The boring ubiquity of Zach King
Yes he makes incredible and mind-bending clips, but they just don’t seem as impressive when you realise they’re mostly worked on with post-production software like After Effects before being uploaded.
Worse than that however is that his videos, whether for Lacoste, Samsung, Ford, Chrysler, Opel, Coca-Cola, are absolutely indistinguishable from each other.
There’s also something else that has really begun to grate on me with Vine. Something that has surprisingly gone relatively unsaid since its conception… The looping sound.
My goodness it can be annoying. Even the greatest Vines in the world will begin to grate after three or four loops. We were not meant to listen to sound like this!
People were very quick to announce the death knell of our attention spans when Vine first appeared, but with four times more brands preferring Instagram over Vine and with 300m monthly active Instagram users compared to Vine’s 40m, it seems that we may have found the threshold.
Alright 15 seconds isn’t a lot, but it’s enough for a good knock-knock joke.