Gemma Styles | Contributing writer | Saturday, 29 October 2016

Gemma Styles: Vine Is Set To Loop No More

Gemma Styles: Vine Is Set To Loop No More

The Debrief: But what's next for the Vine stars making their livings from the six-second video platform?

Photo by Matilda Hill-Jenkins

Quelle surprise in the online community this week, as just a couple of days ago, Twitter announced that it’ll be axing it’s Vine video sharing platform. The looping, six second videos were hot property when it launched around four to five years ago, but with talk of budget cuts in the company and advancements by competing platforms, Vine is set to bite the dust. I have to say I don’t use Vine (which makes sense given their downward trend) but I know that there are a lot of people, the ‘Vine celebrities,’ who have made their name there. My first thought when I heard the news – I wonder how many Vine stars are having comedy shocked-spitting-out-water moments while they’re having their dinners?

Did anyone warn them first? Or did they get the same BBC News notification as me? Imagine the gut-wrenching, sinking feeling that’d give you, if you actually make your living in a format and now it’s just… disappearing. I feel really sorry for them to be honest.

Luckily, a lot of creators have jumped ship before now, with the reasons for this going some way to explain Twitter’s decision. They’ve announced that they’re cutting nine per cent of their workforce, following slow growth of the platform. I do wonder with a platform like Twitter, how much more growth there can be? Probably a naïve view – disclaimer: I have no experience of running an international technology giant – but it seems like most people who would be on Twitter are on it by now. I know there are always people aging into the service, new businesses etc. etc. but their market saturation must be pretty high by this point…?

The online community seems pretty disappointed in the decision overall, when you look at the bemused reaction of a lot of internet personalities, but it does seem to make sense. Vine has struggled to keep up with changes in other video sharing platforms – the rise of Snapchat, which came out swinging after a bit of a lull, has taken over as the king of video, and when Instagram started playing its videos on loop it was clearly not a terrible alternative.

Many stars who gained their fame on Vine have moved on to greener pastures already, with many switching to longer form content on YouTube. One of the main issues that Vine had with keeping it’s talent base is financial; when you have the following, YouTube is quite simple to make money from. Even without taking into account the sponsored content, there is a simple revenue stream in place through the advertising played before videos. If you get enough views then this seems to be a very viable way of making a living. Vine was lacking this option. When a video is so short, and also plays on a loop, where would you put the advert? An advert every ten loops? Meh.

At the end of the day, it seems like Vine has been on a downward trajectory, with some fatal flaws that have proved difficult to overcome. If Twitter are on a money-saving kick then it makes sense to me that Vine is one area that’s just not earning its keep anymore. But it’s an interesting piece of news in our online landscape; in a couple of years we’ll have mostly forgotten about it, such is the quick-fire pace of things, but it serves as a somewhat scary reminder for people making their living online. You can millions of followers, but when someone else is in charge and can decide to pull the plug on your livelihood - what on earth is your back up plan? It’s a strong argument for building personal or business followings on multiple platforms so all your eggs aren’t in one basket. Food for thought. Eggs. Yum. 

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