So hello Vine, Twitter’s new video service. Say, haven’t we met before?

Vine, the new six-second video service promoted by Twitter, is causing a buzz across the socialmediasphere. What has it got that its predecessors lacked?


Bear with me here. There have been many attempts to update Jerome McCarthy’s ‘Four Ps’ of marketing – product, price, promotion and place.  The Seven C’s compass model is a particular favourite, and not just because it was ‘born’ the same year I was – 1981 – but because it is focused on the consumer rather than the product.

Vine has been making a big splash in the last 48 hours. Using the Vine app you can record a video of up to six seconds in length, which is then published in an instagram-style app timeline, and/or to Facebook and Twitter. It looks set to be a runaway success.

When examining that success, the seventh C is really key – circumstances. These are the uncontrollable external factors which can decide whether or not a product launch is a success.

Using the four points on a compass there are:

  • National and international circumstances
  • Social and cultural circumstances
  • Economic circumstances
  • Weather

It’s only because the compass is pointing due south – to a change in social and cultural circumstances in recent years – that Vine can succeed.

I can say that with some certainty because the idea behind Vine isn’t new, and it isn’t original. There have been at least two services which look and work an awful lot like Vine which have launched and disappeared since 2008.


Launched in 2008, it was billed as the “Twitter of video” – it quickly faded into obscurity after amassing about 20,000 users. Which just goes to show in the world of digital, how quickly a ship with 20,000 passengers can sink.

Perhaps the biggest single lesson of Seesmic is that there was no point being the “Twitter of video”, the only successful strategy was to be the “video in Twitter” – that’s certainly what Vine is banking on. launched in 2008 and was billed as – you guessed it – “Twitter for video”. As you’ve probably guessed, it was a video sharing service for videos up to 12 seconds in length. was a haven for geeks. It saw little growth in the two years of its existence. Interestingly – they tried to break into the twitter ecosystem, but were rebuffed. At the time it folded, its founder said:

“I don’t really see the growth in Twitter that we were seeing. I don’t see it as an explosive growth opportunity right now for a third-party application builder. In any ecosystem, eventually there are going to be winners and losers. I think that’s going to shake out more and more as time goes by”

Due south

Coming back to the compass, neither Seesmic nor had the right social and cultural circumstances in which to launch.

  • Self-shoot video was the preserve of geeks – few people were using the video on their smartphone, if it had one. If, indeed they had a smartphone.
  • Social sharing and content creation was still in its infancy. Facebook, with its ever more complex privacy controls, was extremely well established but it was something of a walled garden and heavily biased towards written status updates and photos.
  • The explosion of twitter, with its alien 140-character limit, was only just beginning. Truncated communication was a novelty, not a norm.
  • Twitter postcards – media embedded in tweets viewable without the need to install any viewer software – hadn’t been invented.

Riding on Twitter’s coattails has already done a lot for Vine, with mainstream media paying immediate attention. The Guardian are already soliciting six-second album reviews. So one of the other C’s will be critical to the success of Vine – convenience. The barrier to entry for viewing is non-existant, so long as you have the latest Twitter app installed or are viewing via the Twitter website. The barrier for creating videos is relatively low, but Vine functionality needs to be integrated directly into the Twitter mobile apps to guarantee uptake.

Once that happens, the age of six-second story-telling will be well and truly upon us.


Robin Fenwick

Communications Director and public affairs professional, digital specialist, ex political activist, early music enthusiast.
Posted in Communications, Online.