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Social ghost towns: exploring abandoned platforms

The ever-changing social landscape is the bane of every social media professional’s life. Sure, working in social is never boring or same-y, but in reality, you have to be on the ball 24/7 to keep up.

Understanding how trends come in and out of fashion and new platforms that pop up is at the heart of everything we do. Knowing what’s in, what’s out, and what’s new, is key to generating a successful social presence.

That being said, what’s really eye-opening in the world of social is how quickly platforms come and go. Bustling hubs of conversation can quickly turn sour and leave behind digital ghost towns. Please, join us as we delve into the abandoned realms of social:

Vine: the short-form video precursor to TikTok

Vine is the OG of short-form video. If you missed the Vine hype, the platform allowed users to create six-second looping videos:

These bitesize stories captured the imagination of millions across the globe with their quirky humour. But, despite its positive cultural impact and devoted fandom, Vine ultimately met its demise when new players came onto the scene. Faced with challenging opposition, Vine ultimately suffered because:

  • It didn’t diversify its core model

Although the looping six-second video structure fostered creativity and innovation (and arguably was the unique reason the app became famous), competitors such as Instagram and TikTok started introducing 15-second video, which was more than twice as long as Vine’s.

  • It didn’t incorporate a monetisation model

After its initial stardom, Vine struggled financially as it didn’t incorporate a monetisation model. It didn’t sell ads on-platform and all influencer partnerships were dealt with directly between the brand and the talent. In short, the platform stopped making money.

Its parent company, Twitter, closed the app in 2017. But, there wasn’t a hole in the social landscape for long, as Vine’s closure ultimately paved the way for TikTok just a few months later; now claiming the throne as champion of short-form video content.

What does this teach us?

You need to diversify to survive. Don’t become too comfortable

Social media isn’t as easy as it looks. When done right, it’s a huge revenue generator and it should be taken seriously

Good things don’t always last forever (RIP Vine 😢)


Threads: the platform that flopped as quick as it grew

Threads was touted as the next big thing. The platform that combined elements of what we all love about the top platforms – Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. It promised to revolutionise the way we interacted online.

But…did it, though?

It experienced record growth and attracted over 100 million users in less than 5 days. Despite the initial hype, it pretty much became the fastest social flop in history and lost 70% of its users in a month.

A combination of technical glitches and lacklustre features made Threads tire quickly, leaving behind eager early adopters.


What does this teach us?

  1. You shouldn’t change your whole social strategy just because there’s a new player on the scene
  2. You only get one chance to make a first impression. If you’ve rushed it or not listened to your audience and it’s not quite right, you’ve lost your opportunity
  3. Hype doesn’t always equal success. In fact, it only pays off when the product is as good as what you say it is

The rise of Twitter and the fall to X

Once hailed as the go-to platform for real-time news and views (in 280 characters or less, of course), Twitter’s trajectory took a peculiar turn with the unexpected takeover by Elon Musk in 2022.

The billionaire’s move initially sparked a flurry of excitement until worrying changes were implemented:

  1. Previously banned accounts were reinstated
  2. 80% of platform staff were made redundant
  3. The content moderation team was largely eliminated
  4. Users could pay for verification badges
  5. Journalists were suspended from the platform

The platform quickly became a place of hate speech and misinformation, leaving millions of users concerned about privacy, moderation, and the general direction of the platform.

Although this approach disrupted the platform for the worse, Twitter – or should we say X – is still widely used today and has only experienced a drop-off in users of around 9% since the takeover.

Although many large brands stopped spending on platform, new users joined the platform. The outcome ultimately remains uncertain, but what is clear is that Twitter’s journey from social media titan to a platform in flux just shows how unpredictable and fast-paced the social sphere is.


What does this teach us?

Social moves SO quickly. By the time you’ve read this article, the information is probably out of date 🥲

You need to trust your team behind you – you can’t just be one person with a vision

More investment doesn’t necessarily mean better

The social world can’t operate without moderation

In conclusion…

The rise and fall of social platforms offer a great insight into the unpredictable nature of the social sphere. These stories serve as a reminder that no brand communications platform is immune to the forces of change, even one as new as social media.

To effectively navigate the ever-evolving landscape, we must remain adaptable and open to innovation. How can you do that, you ask?

  • Avoid putting all your eggs in one basket

Spreading your efforts across multiple platforms mitigates the risk of being heavily impacted by the rise or fall of any single platform. Don’t be *everywhere* just ‘cause, but instead determine which platforms best suit your goals and target audience.

  • Don’t be afraid to try new things

Stay flexible and adapt your approach based on performance metrics, especially ones like engagement rate and sentiment. Be willing to pivot your outputs to better align with what your audiences crave, as they’ll continue to stick around even if there’s a new platform on the block.

  • Don’t fall into the trap of relying on trend-led content

Sure, trends help brands “go viral”, but having a whole strategy relying on reactive content is dangerous and doesn’t help your brand be remembered for anything in the long run. Make sure to keep enough fame-driving, brand building content in there so you don’t lose sight of who you are.

After all, today’s social titan may be tomorrow’s ghost town, and only those who can embrace change will stand the test of time.

If you need help staying on top of the social beat, get in touch to chat with one of our social experts today.