It’s easy to forget that the internet only infiltrated our homes around 25 years ago. It is a technological advancement that is still relatively fresh-faced, yet it has evolved to such a point that many of us would struggle to cope were we barred from utilising it even for a 24-hour spell.
It has revolutionised the way we buy our shopping, forge relationships, catch up on the news and watch television; as such, to say that the internet has greatly altered how we live our lives can hardly be deemed an exaggeration.
It’s easy to forget that the internet only infiltrated our homes around 25 years ago
The internet, an innovation entirely dependent upon technological advancement and perpetual progression, affords entrepreneurs, trend-setters and forward thinkers the opportunity to make a huge impact quickly. By filling a gap, dominating a particular market or creating a product that can declare itself superior to its adversaries, an internet titan can be born practically overnight.
The all too familiar demise of an internet giant
The speed at which the internet evolves means companies are constantly attempting to refresh and reimagine their offering so as to stay ahead of the game; however, with rival enterprises bidding to do the same thing, it is inevitable that some businesses will crash, burn and slide into obscurity.
Just take a look at some of these former household names that once had the world at their feet, but have subsequently been usurped and consigned the role of outdated has-been.
Arguably the first social media platform to really capture the world’s attention, Myspace was attracting around 76 million unique visitors a month at its peak in 2008. In 2006 it overtook Google as the most visited site in the United States, but following the rise of Facebook, quickly fell down the internet rankings.
Plagued by persistent controversy and majorly despised by much of the music industry, Napster was pretty much doomed from the beginning. Though the music downloading pioneer boasted around 80 million active users in its heyday, various legal injunctions resulted in the company’s closure. Napster can be credited with popularising the idea of streaming music, but largely missed out on the financial triumphs of successors Spotify, Pandora and Deezer.
At its peak, web hosting service GeoCities had around 35 million users worldwide, and was at one point the third most visited address on the internet. GeoCities’ collapse was not rapid, but the growth of social media, blogging platforms and more user-friendly hosting sites eventually resulted in its downfall.
And now Vine, the short-form video sharing service founded in June 2012 and bought by Twitter for around $30 million four months later, is set to become the next phenomenon to find itself ruthlessly discarded and placed upon the internet’s burgeoning scrapheap.
Feeding our love of video
By 2017 it is anticipated that video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic, which is hardly surprising when you consider that research has found 67% of consumers regard the information gleaned from a single video as “equivalent to reading 1,000 words”. Content marketers are keenly aware of this trend, with 64% saying they expect video to dominate their strategies in the near future.
Video is, undoubtedly, going to play an incredibly important role in the content marketing sphere in the coming years. While long-form writing is always going to remain a vital ingredient in the overall content mix, video will almost certainly continue to grow in significance. Until recently many organisations have used video as little more than decorative icing atop their marketing cake, but that is all changing; going forward, many content marketers will find themselves making visual storytelling the sponge, the jam and the buttercream.
Video is, undoubtedly, going to play an incredibly important role in the content marketing sphere
Video killed the video star
Vine, which gives content creators the ability to tell short stories no longer than six seconds in length, rose to prominence and ultimately floundered because of its unyielding construct.
Vine’s popularity has been short-lived, even in internet terms, and it appears that it will not even reach its fifth birthday. By the beginning of 2016 – just three and a half years after its inception – over half of the site’s top 1,000 accounts had stopped using the platform, with many of them tempted away by the ability to post longer videos to larger audiences on competitor sites Snapchat and Instagram. While Vine may be responsible for helping a number of individuals – Shawn Mendes, Andrew Bachelor and Jerry Purpdrank, for example – launch prosperous acting careers, even they will admit that the platform was merely a medium for advertising their abilities. For these Vine celebrities, success was achieved when they were able to leave Vine behind.
While Vine’s two rival platforms have managed to flourish by continually upping their respective games – improving searchability, rolling out new filters and enhancing site navigation, for example – Vine has suffered because of an inability, or a reluctance, to renovate its offering. Inflexible products all but condemn themselves to failure when they choose not to adapt.
If an idea is good enough it will be mimicked by competitors, who will then add their own flavour. Strong concepts spawn imitators – they do not breed loyalty. We humans are fickle; remaining faithful to a product is all a matter of convenience, and if something better comes along, we will invariably flock to it. We rejected Myspace for Facebook, MSN Messenger for WhatsApp, and Yahoo! for Google; Vine has become the latest victim, but will by no means be the last.
Vine has suffered because of an inability, or a reluctance, to renovate its offering
The death of constrictive content?
We have already asserted that Vine’s biggest mistake was its rigidity, but is the site’s demise indicative of a wider rejection of constrictive content? Are people starting to rally against the idea of making that which they produce fit with a pre-determined template? Personally, I would say that they are.
Twitter, which allows users to post a message using no more than 140 characters, recently announced that photos, videos, GIFs, polls and quoted tweets will no longer count towards the character limit, while there has been talk for many months that soon the character limit will be modified to allow for more extensive posts. Though rumours of such a move have been lambasted by much of the platform’s user base, the fact that it is being talked about at all shows there is at least some appetite.
As mentioned previously, the time restraints associated with Vine have ultimately been the medium’s biggest strength and most considerable weakness. The idea of making short videos remains well-liked, but the concept of using numerous short clips to tell a story is something that has grown in popularity. Snapchat and Instagram have both integrated a ‘Story’ function into their respective platforms, giving users the opportunity to create extensive pieces of work by combining a series of videos. Vine’s unwillingness to adopt such an approach resulted in many individuals taking their business elsewhere.
Any form of creativity needs to be given room to grow, and boundaries represent limitations. Restraints eventually lead to a sort of inspirational claustrophobia, as Vine has found to its detriment. By ignoring the needs of its users and audience, and by failing to keep in touch with the innovative notions introduced by its competitors, Vine has floundered.
The idea of making short videos remains well-liked, but the concept of using numerous short clips to tell a story is something that has grown in popularity
All content needs an audience if it is to make an impact, which is why all marketers must remain on the ball; content, be it in the form of a video, article, podcast or infographic, must attract and engage the very people you desire to engage, or the entire exercise will be a waste of time and energy. Understand the needs of the people you want to reach, and appeal to them fittingly. A failure to do so will quickly leave you outshone, outmanoeuvred and outclassed by your competition.