Social Media Strategies Withering on the Vine

As 2016 winds to a close, it’s time to take stock of the social media and communications tactics in our public relations/publicity tool kit. So long Meerkat! You can safely put any planning for Meerkat live events into a dusty file cabinet.  After making a huge splash at SXSW 2015, the app has buckled under the pressure of competition from Twitter-owned Periscope and Facebook Live. And now six seconds of silence for Vine…

When Twitter bought Vine in 2012 for a reported $30 million, it left many people scratching their heads. The short-form video sharing service seemed like a bizarre approach to cater to smartphone users’ ever decreasing attention spans. Vine videos were only six seconds long, but they did loop automatically which can create an interesting effect based on content. User’s videos were published through Vine’s social network which can obviously be shared on Twitter (Vine’s parent company) as well as Facebook.

While Meerkat died in October, Vine withered in November when Twitter announced it was shutting down the mobile-only app. However, I think it’s important to recognize that Vine did have some impressive accomplishments in its short digital life span. Vine created an original, new form of web comedy, and more than any other social network, Vine created an interesting and powerful new platform for teens, particularly young people of color to express themselves. It was a place without harassment or prejudice for the most part.

The biggest “star” on Vine was King Bach. His real name is Andrew Bachelor and he’s 27 years old with a whopping 15 million person subscriber base. I met him at a panel at NATPE in Miami, earlier this year. King Bach says he has built his audience by being edgy and tackling controversial issues. While many of his Vines are basically slapstick comedy skits, many also deal with racism and police brutality. The controversy sells on social media and in fact helped him land a yet untitled show on the Fox network, where he will play an undercover police officer.

He made the most of the platform while it was there…Alas, Vine, we hardly knew you. Vine’s six second limit was designed partly in mind to take it easy on users’ cellphone data plans, but it was quickly surpassed by Instagram which allows for longer video clips and live/instantaneous and more interactive offerings from Facebook and Snapchat. The self-limiting concept in the end was its downfall.

What will 2017 bring? There are more interesting offerings on Snapchat, but it has yet to break out into non-millennial demographics, and the millennials are quick to change their smartphone apps, so it’s hard to predict what staying power this medium will have. Monetizing Snapchat is more straightforward than Vine ever was, but it still doesn’t have the proven ROI of Facebook. Twitter remains relevant thanks to the incoming President’s near constant use. Facebook live is becoming so popular and user-friendly, it’s hard to see that fading anytime soon. As crazy as 2016 was, it makes me think 2017 may be even more unpredictable!


Thoughts, questions, comments, I’d love to hear from you.