Snapchat and Vine: The Disruptor and Disrupted


Remember when Vine was cool and Snapchat was dirty? How quickly their fortunes have changed. Vine, once the darling of visual storytellers, is losing brands and attention, sinking in popularity on the app store. Meantime, Snapchat has overcome its reputation as a fringe app run by a badly behaving frat boy. Adweek recently named Snapchat the hottest digital brand of the year for 2015 while Vine was making headlines for losing market share. Their changing fortunes demonstrate how easily the disruptors can become the disrupted. But the story ain’t over yet.

Vine: The Disrupted

Vine came along at the right time. The app was officially launched in January 2013 amid the rise of video storytelling. Brands, always looking for fresh content sharing platforms, latched on to Vine as a fresh alternative to YouTube. Vine’s format for sharing 6-second video stories seemed like a natural fit for a multi-tasking world with a shrinking attention span — and, crucially, Vine was (and remains) an easy-to-use mobile-first app at a time of rapid mobile adoption. Its user base grew rapidly, and Vine was hailed as a YouTube disruptor. Brands eager to extend their presence into mobile content, began adopting the app and bringing with them more users. By fall of 2013, Dunkin’ Donuts and Trident Gum were launching the first-ever TV spots using Vine.

But even as Vine was ascending, a multitude of forces were converging to disrupt Vine’s success. Just six months after Vine launched, Instagram rolled out its own video feature, with superior editing capabilities, Facebook would also beef up its video-sharing capability. Snapchat, which had existed longer, added more functions, exploded in popularity, and, in 2014, introduced advertising (while Vine did not). Facebook could wield its scale and targeted advertising effectively against Vine, and Snapchat had coolness in its favor. Meantime, YouTube kept evolving as a premier source of online entertainment for brands and YouTube stars such as PewDiePie.

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How Merriam-Webster Is Rocking Peach, the New Hotness for Content


My first friend on Peach, the new hybrid messaging/content-sharing app, was Merriam-Webster — a brand, mind you, not a person. Peach, launched January 8 by Vine cofounder Dom Hofmann, has created a firestorm on Twitter and attracted a blitz of coverage from media such as Engadget and Mashable. Peach combines the messaging functionality of Slack, the real-time reporting capability of Twitter, and the fun personality of Snapchat to give you an easy-to-use mobile platform for sharing content ranging from GIFs to songs. Merriam-Webster’s presence on Peach shows how quickly brands adopt new apps to share content — and reveals a playful side to the 185-year-old reference publisher.

It doesn’t take long to discover Peach’s potential for injecting a sense of play into content creation. On your own Peach account, you can post everything from images to straight-text messages, which is not terribly novel. The real fun begins when you type one of Peach’s magic words, which call up a host of options for sharing content. Type GIF, and Peach then gives you the option of searching for GIFs on any subject. For instance, when I typed GIF and then The Hateful Eight, Peach instantly served up several righteously awesome GIFs from Quentin Tarantino’s new movie. Within seconds, I added a GIF of Samuel L. Jackson’s intimidating gaze.

Other magic words reveal a ton of other options. They include:

  • Draw: which calls up a whiteboard screen for you to draw something and post the doodle on your account.
  • Shout: use a variety of screen colors and fonts to create your own little billboard, as I did here to celebrate David Bowie’s birthday and the release of his new album, Blackstar, January 8:


  • Song: identify a song with your phone’s microphone (a la Shazam) and post on your account).

A complete list of magic words is here.

Merriam-Webster is already making good use of Peach to engage its audience. For instance, @MerriamWebster on Peach previews its word of the day as it did the evening of January 8 by doodling the word “fealty.”


On its first day on Peach, Merriam-Webster also created a shout that taps into a current debate concerning popular language usage:


For good measure, Merriam-Webster even sent me a cake emoji.

Meantime, on Twitter, Merriam-Webster has been having some fun discussing how we might describe the act of creating content on Peach:


The brand’s use of Peach sends a message: Merriam-Webster might be 185 years old, but the venerable reference resource is the authority on changing language use and adapts with the times. And I have to admit I’ve never been caked by anyone before.

Marketing expert David Berkowitz already asked (via his Peach account) the question you might be asking:


Peach’s enduring power will depend on how quickly it can scale across mobile phones and how well brands adopt it. A mobile-first approach embeds Peach into our everyday mobile lifestyles, crucial for building a user base. Brands bring money and more users from platforms where the brands are followed already. Ello, the social media site launched in 2014, created problems for itself right out of the gate by being hostile to brands and by launching first as a desktop experience in a mobile world.

On the other hand, Peach has made a smart move by launching on Apple iOS to build an adoption base on mobile devices. Penetrating the world of Android is a sensible next move. As for getting brands (both companies and, inevitably, celebrities) onboard, Peach will need to quickly police the creation of fake accounts and develop a monetization model that convinces brands to add yet another mobile app to their arsenal of content sharing platforms.

The entertainment industry is an obvious play for Peach, but as Merriam-Webster shows, there is no shortage of companies adapting to the more emotional, visual, short-form style of content creation that connects with millennials and digital natives. Peach should be courting the mainstays that always seem to know how to embrace new content creation platforms: usual suspects such as Dunkin’ Donuts, GE, Mountain Dew, Taco Bell, and the major automotive brands. Oh, and Merriam-Webster can teach them all a thing or two.

PS: if you’re on Peach, my user name is @davidjdeal.