Overseas markets, especially the U.S, are a benchmark for global internet development, so it comes as no surprise that China’s short video market was initially spurred on by trends in foreign countries. Short video creators, as represented by Papi, a Chinese comedian known for her video blogs, are receiving huge investments, and short video apps are thriving in China. But the global short video market was rocked by the recent announcement that Twitter will discontinue its pioneering short video app Vine. What lessons can we learn from overseas short video markets? Cheetah Global Lab has selected one failure case and one success case that may provide new insights into the Chinese short video industry.
Failure Case – The Death of Short Video Pioneer Vine
Vine exploded on the scene in 2013, surpassing Instagram in Google Play’s Social app category rankings within a single week. Instagram later followed suit by adding a short video function to its platform. Facebook possesses its own video upload function, while Snapchat first gained popularity with self-destructing messages, then grew into a small unicorn with its short video function, despite once being at death’s door.
Three years later in October 2016, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat still had the last laugh in Social category rankings, as Twitter announced that it will be discontinuing Vine in the coming months.
Vine has been in decline worldwide from the end of August to the end of October, according to Cheetah Global Lab and libra data. Ironically, Vine DAUs spiked on the day Twitter announced its upcoming discontinuation, as though the public is already expressing nostalgia for the app.
How did Vine get here?
Instagram’s 15-second video sharing Video function
The first challenge for Vine was that it was difficult to create space in a fierce competition with giants.
Instagram added a short video function soon after Vine was launched. Facebook introduced Riff, but shut it down in less than a year, instead directly adding a short video feature to its platform. In light of Vine’s relatively small user base (even Twitter’s for that matter) it was difficult to compete with Facebook and Instagram. For the same reason, it’s impossible to build a first-mover advantage in this sector. Vine heavily depended on short video user-generated content (UGC), but users easily flow between platforms.
The situation in China is quite similar. WeChat’s short video function has already gone viral, while a GIF sharing feature has been added in the latest update. QQ unveiled Riji, a feature similar to Snapchat, in an attempt to regain momentum in short video. Weibo, for its part, has always done well in short video. Inke plans to add a “Moments”-style short video sharing wall to its platform, while kwai and Meipai got their start in the short video sector. This leads to a question: Who will be the next Snapchat and who will be the next Vine in China?
Snapchat is a favorite app among young people in the United States
The second challenge was that weak prowess in technology and operation led to seed user churn.
The biggest challenge for Vine was the rise of Snapchat. Vine boasted of its young user base, but Snapchat attracted young users with novel and fun features, which turned it into the dominant short video app.
The fact that many stars left from Vine was the last straw that breaks the camel's back.
It was reported that some Vine stars had demanded that Twitter pay more royalties for exclusive copyrights and improve its technology, especially relating to keyword bans in the comments section. Many of them were unwilling to put up with the abuse. In fact, cyberbullying is becoming increasingly prevalent and Twitter is frequently criticized as a “garbage dump” of online attacks. Unfortunately, Twitter did not heed this advice and Vine ultimately met its demise.
Success Case - musical.ly: The first short video social app that was born in China and broke the culture barrier
Twins are showing the beauty of braces in musical.ly
Musical.ly, invested in by Cheetah Mobile, has rapidly carved out a position in the mainstream American and European markets since going live in 2014.
Musical.ly possessed a total of 120 million users worldwide as of July 2016, according to data provided by musical.ly, with a 2:1 ratio of iOS and Android users. musical.ly had 2 billion video starts per day, of which 400 million were watched to completion, while YouTube had 1.325 billion users worldwide and an average of 1 billon video starts per day on mobile devices as of July 2016, according to data from U.S. market research firm Statistic Brain.
Source: Statistic Brain & musical.ly
Despite a full order-of-magnitude difference in the user bases of musical.ly (developed in China) and YouTube, which has been in operation for eleven years, musical.ly’s daily video views are more than double that of YouTube. On average, musical.ly users watch 16.67 video clips per day.
No one could imagine that musical.ly is actually developed by a small team of 50 people based in China. Cultural barriers are the biggest challenge for social apps, but musical.ly has overcome this obstacle by allowing users to truly be the owners and operators of the community, guaranteeing high quality UGC.
Another key aspect of musical.ly’s success is positivity and a sense of community, which stands in stark contrast to Vine. Community is musical.ly’s core value, which helps bring together high-quality users and hosts that participate under the themes “Forever Young” and “Everyone Can Be Beautiful.” Even old ladies or people with disabilities can become stars in the community where users give encouragement and support, entirely different from social media platforms where abuse is the norm.
It’s also worth pointing out that musical.ly emphasizes its own star-making capabilities, and attracts excellent content providers with traffic rather than blindly hiring celebrities. This is similar to the practice of kwai, which has minted numerous grassroots “Big Vs” (verified users who have more than 500,000 followers) and is ranked number one among Chinese short video apps.
Chinese Short Video Apps Go Global
Musical.ly, a Chinese short video social app, has made a big splash abroad. Short video apps featuring content recommendation, especially personalized recommendation, were created by Chinese developers and possess unlimited potential overseas. The success of personalized news apps, in particular the impressive performance of Cheetah Mobile’s News Republic in the United States, has provided a boost to personalized recommendation apps everywhere. In developed countries such as the United States where users are more creative and UGC and PGC is of a higher quality, Chinese short video apps can leverage personalized recommendation technology to thrive. In fact, Chinese short video apps are already popular in many countries including Indonesia and Brazil.
1. Unless otherwise stated, all data provided by libra, Cheetah Mobile’s big data platform. On August 22, 2016, libra began using a broader range of new data sources, with a significant increase in data. The mobile app market is now reflected more fully and accurately in a growing number of data dimensions covering Daily Active Users (DAU), Weekly Active Users (WAU), Monthly Active Users (MAU), Install Penetration Rate and Retention Rate. Cheetah Global Lab leverages libra to provide users with more authoritative and informative mobile internet reports.
2. Data is collected through the normal use of Cheetah Mobile products in accordance with all relevant laws and regulations;
3. Rankings are only applicable to the Android platform;
4. Data is subject to the scale and distribution of Cheetah Mobile product users.