Elon Musk Floats Vine Comeback, Asks MrBeast How To Beat TikTok

The wheel of reinvention is spinning at a brisk pace inside Twitter's offices under the platform's new master, Elon Musk. Barely a few days into signing the final acquisition papers and entering the Twitter headquarters with a literal "sink in" his hands, Musk has turned his attention toward video as a plum opportunity to make money.

Over the weekend, Musk hinted that he was exploring longer video uploads on Twitter, a ploy to boost engagement on the platform. There's also the chance to squeeze a regular subscription out of verified Twitter users, in return for them keeping their coveted blue check mark. However, Musk's most ambitious act of Twitter revival would be resurrecting Vine, the viral short-video-sharing platform that died an unceremonious death a few years ago.

The new Lord of Twitter recently asked his Twitter followers if he should bring back Vine, which was acquired by Twitter in 2012 and condemned to a shutdown hell in 2017. Even today, it's a decision that's heralded as a particularly poor one for Twitter management, which has struggled to get even the basics right about video clips. It was only in 2021, for example, that Twitter got around to improving video quality beyond the bare minimum. 

Clearly, despite those missteps, the long-suffering Twitter audience hasn't forgotten the glory days of Vine. A significant share of responders  to Musk's recent poll responded positively to the idea of bringing back Vine.

Vine predicted the future, but Twitter still squashed it

Vine allowed users to share short six-second videos and was fairly popular among the age demographic that is currently hooked to TikTok and Instagram Reels. In fact, you could make a solid argument that Vine predicted the current rush to short-form video, and could've given Twitter an early — and, in hindsight, affordable — advantage in the category. Back when it bought the startup, for somewhere in the region of $30 million according to unofficial estimates, anticipation was high for just what creators could do when limited in time but not necessarily audience. 

In fact, Vine gave birth to some of the most well-known internet influencers that continue to flourish to this day, such as Logan Paul, Zach King, Lele Pons, King Bach, Rudy Mancuso, and Nash Grier, among others. To say it came as a surprise when, in 2016, Twitter announced it was pulling the plug on the Vine app would be an understatement, though the company insisted it was merely folding the functionality into the core Twitter app. 

Instead, it first flirted with a Vine Camera app for creators to share short clips on their Twitter feed, but even that was short-lived too. Fast forward to today, meanwhile, and with such videos huge business online, Musk apparently wants to capture some magic from the days gone to inject some energy into Twitter again. 

Roping YouTube's best to spark life into Twitter

While the idea of bringing back Vine from the cold, dark depths of a close archive sounds appealing — especially to the nostalgic lot clamoring for the "good old days" of viral social media — Musk is going right after the crown. MrBeast – one of the biggest YouTubers on the planet who is currently seeking a staggering $1.5 billion brand valuation – commented below Musk's poll that it would be hilarious if he brings back Vine and pits it against TikTok.

Musk, in turn, responded with a question asking MrBeast about tips to beat TikTok. The social media star, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, remarked that almost every major platform has copied TikTok. However, the YouTube phenomenon advised Musk that "whatever u do make it hard to copy or it's a waste of time imo."

The suggestion makes sense, as every brand from YouTube to Instagram has copied TikTok's formula of short videos served on an algorithmically-curated addictive feed of content. The challenge would be to create something that can't be copied, according to MrBeast, and that's a problem Instagram and TikTok know all too well. Earlier this year, Meta attempted to encourage creators to make unique content for Instagram Reels — rather than reupload TikTok clips — with Instagram chief Adam Mosseri arguing it was the best way to make sure creators were appropriately credited.

Musk's plan to resuscitate Vine makes sense, given the social media shift towards shorter videos. In June, YouTube revealed that 1.5 billion users were watching Shorts daily (via TechCrunch), amassing 30 billion views each day, as of 2022's first quarter. Bringing back Vine just might spark the creators' influence, and with it, ad money might flow into Twitter's historically modest coffers under Musk's leadership.