Two years ago, Twitter-owned Vine was growing like kudzu. It was widely embraced by both consumers and marketers who sought to push the envelope with creative six-second clips. But the explosion of new video formats on Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube, which all now boast sizable scale, has caused top brands to quietly slip away. Tyler Hissey, senior digital strategist at Hill Holliday, explained.
"Over time, it became difficult for many marketers to achieve scale [on Vine]. In the last six months or so, brands have started to de-emphasize Vine as a channel because of the targeting capabilities on all these other platforms."
Data is proving this out. Video analytics firm Tubular Labs reviewed Vine, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube accounts of 40 major brands, including Coca-Cola, Target and Dunkin' Donuts. Between September and November, marketers posted 2,500 social videos, and Vine contributed just 113 of those clips—equivalent to 4 percent of branded content.
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Only 13 of the 40 brands posted to Vine during the third quarter of 2015, down from 21 in the first quarter of this year, Tubular found.
General Electric—renowned in marketing circles as an early adopter of new platforms—hasn't posted to Vine since last January, while social-savvy Mountain Dew's account doesn't appear to have been touched since April.
Tubular Labs co-founder Allison Stern said.
"I assume that brands are having this platform fatigue. Marketers today are savvy about experimenting on a platform, but if it's not working for them, they're going to drop it."
One of the main reasons brands are turning away from Vine is because unlike its competitors, Vine doesn't have an advertising model, although brands often buy Twitter ads to promote their clips, noted Topher Burns, group director of distribution at Deep Focus.
"In terms of a distribution channel, Vine fails in comparison to what we'd expect from the other three [platforms]."
All that said, Vine still shines when social stars are involved. Instead of brands posting their own content, Burns said that clients are looking to team up with top influencers who have amassed massive followings to create sponsored content.
For example, when Dunkin' Donuts recently sought to promote its mobile app, it tapped social media star Logan Paul to create funny sponsored Vine and Instagram posts around its stores. The coffee seller used Twitter to push Paul's goofy clip, which shows him throwing a box of donuts in the air and has accumulated more than 3 million loops—Vine's view metric—in the past month.
Melanie Cohn, social media marketing manager at Dunkin' Donuts said.
"We find that Vine videos fulfill our fans' need for pure entertainment that they can't really find anywhere else."
Tom Buontempo, president of Attention, agreed that influencers boost branded content on Vine, but noted that his shop is getting more Snapchat work as social media stars look to build audiences across multiple platforms.
"Like a media property, they're looking to expand their footprint as much as they can. We're doing more Snapchat campaigns through influencers than we are for any other platform right now."
Still other agency execs contend that Vine's problems stem from Twitter's sales pitch. Twitter is beefing up its advertising offerings for brands with new native video formats, livestreaming app Periscope and Niche—a platform that connects brands with creators—but Vine is often treated as an afterthought.
Mark Book, vp, director of Digitas Studios said.
"It seems to be a bit on the back burner as of late. It is incredibly challenging to weave a brand or product narrative into a piece of content in six seconds. We have seen success with stop-motion and live events that tell a larger, real-time story, but those opportunities are few and far between."
COMMENTARY: I think that this survey was too small to draw any conclusions concerning Vine's adoption by major brands, but there are other important reasons why brands aren't using Vine or Periscope as advertising platforms. Twitter does not view Vine as a competitor to Facebook which has been highly successful with its video ads. Vine has its eyes set on becoming less of a social network and more of an entertainment platform. Speaking with Re/Code, Vine’s product manager, Jason Toff said,
“When Vine started it was a social network. But what we’ve found…is that the way people are most successful using Vine is as an entertainment network. So if you look at the product releases we’ve focused on, you’ll notice that there’s a trend toward this entertainment aspect.”
Neither video platform will feature traditional, force-fed advertising, at least in the near term, according to Joel Lunenfeld, Twitter's VP-global brand strategy. Instead, Twitter is working with brands to promote content from these platforms within its core product, and serving as a middleman between brands and stars with major social followings.
Mr. Lunenfeld said at the Collision tech conference in Las Vegas in May 2015.
"As of right now we don't have plans for promoted Vines or promoted Periscopes."
For now, that means Twitter will likely lean heavily on Niche, a company that connects brands with social media all-stars. Twitter acquired Niche in February for a reported $30 million. Niche, Mr. Lunenfeld said, has relationships with 10,000 social media "creators" and is especially well connected on Vine.
Twitter makes money from Vine, a personality-driven platform, by connecting brands with talent. Those stars, who command massive followings, then create branded content on the platform. Brittany Furlan, one such star, is followed by 9.1 million people, for instance. Nash Grier, another star, is followed by 11.6 million people.
Mr. Lunenfeld said.
"A brand or an ad agency comes to us and says, 'I'm launching a new product; it's targeted to this audience.' We'll say, 'Okay, here's 15 people [and] five of them, alone, have a combined audience bigger than BuzzFeed.'"
HP, in one case, used Niche to find talent to create ten Vines promoting the launch of a convertible laptop. The Vines were so engaging, Mr. Lunenfeld said, that the company turned them into a 30-second TV ad. He said.
"We knew there was something special there, and the backend metrics showed that purchase intent, brand awareness, all those things went up."
Twitter must be careful with its approach to advertising on Vine. The community on the platform is tight-knit and not likely to respond positively to ads forced into their streams. Instagram, another visual platform, faced a backlash when it introduced ads.
Mr. Lunenfield said.
"We're really focusing on building the product, the experience and the community first. Then we've got strong relationships with every advertiser to learn how to promote that through Twitter proper."
In conclusion, Twitter has no plans to convert Vine and Periscope into advertising platforms. Brands use the Twitter platform for engaging with its fans, and this is where promoted ads and videos will be placed.
Having said this, it is important to distinguish between Twitter's Vine app adoption by brands and individual Twitter users. By the third quarter 2013, Vine was the fastest growing mobile app in the world with 23.65 million users and grew at 403% during 2013. Instagram had 109.7 million users, but only grow 130% during 2013.
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Twitter does not publish Vine statistics, but I found that The Social Media Hat compiled the following Vine statistics taken from different sources.
- 200 Million - Number of Vine monthly active users (8/27/15)
- 31.7% - Monthly growth rate of Vine monthly active users (12/7/15)
- 14% - Vine's reach of total U.S. digital population (4/2/15)
- 100 Million - Number of people that watch Vine videos each month (8/20/14)
- 1.5 Billion - Number of Vine loops played daily (1/26/15)
- 1 Trillion - Number of Vine loops played annually (1/26/15)
- 28% - Percentage of Vine users 18-24 years of age (12/31/14)
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In a blog post dated October 29, 2015, I reported that Twitter had 320 million monthly active users during their Q3 2015 earnings conference call. User growth has stagnated and remains in low single digits on a quarter-to-quarter basis. Increasing user growth and engagement and making Twitter easier for everyone to use is the biggest challenge facing CEO Jack Dorsey. Video advertising has taken a foothold on Facebook, and this is widely accepted as the most effective means to reach consumers. You can expect that Twitter will follow suit, and that Vine and Periscope video ads will play a major role in their advertising strategy.
Courtesy of an article dated December 6, 2015 appearing in AdWeek, an article dated October 27, 2015 appearing in AdWeek, an article dated December 7, 2015 appearing in R/ECode, an article dated May 8, 2015 appearing in AdAge, and an article dated July 14, 2015 appearing in Business Insider