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Coub - the TikTok that didn't happen


In 2012, coub.ru, a service for short, looped videos, was born, and users immediately accepted and loved it. I remember the first time I watched something there, and it felt as if I had known the service since childhood.

For the next 2 years Coub was actively growing - the virality was just crazy. But then something went wrong. The service became uncomfortable, the growth slowed down - the miracle didn't happen. And in this post I want to analyze what mistakes Misha Tabunov and his team made.

In total I managed to count 8 fails. Conventionally they are divided into interface and marketing. Each item will have a description, justification of the inconvenience and an example of a solution. The list in some places goes from simple to complex.

1. Closure to third-party services

All the time Coub has been betting on virality. Eight years ago, it was mostly taken from vk and fb. Because social networks needed to raise their value, they allowed embedding third-party content into their feeds and personas. Over time, however, social networks with lock-in content began to emerge.

For example, if I wanted to distribute a cob via storiz, I would have to upload the cob to my device and upload it to insta. In the end, it would be very different content that doesn't bring new users to coub.com.

As a solution for attracting users, you could try the format of the same storizas. This is a really effective option, which even YouTube could not resist, and which even LinkedIn has adopted (although it would seem that they have nothing to do with it).

2. Lack of a built-in audio library

The main point of most cobras is to create dissonance in the user's head by means of the similarity or divergence of video sequences and tracks. That is, you need to find music for the cube. At this point, you can pull audio from a YouTube video, either by providing a link or by uploading a file from your device. This takes time.

The optimal solution would be to a) add an audio library, as instagram and tiktok have done; b) accumulate publicly available audio library of files uploaded by users.

3. no Reply.

Challenges were popular on Coub in the early years. Users competed to see who could better match video to sound or sound to video. It got to the point where half of the videos in the feed had "answer to - /URL/" in the title.

With this format, the user would have to copy the link, paste it into a new tab and watch the video to retrieve the chain. That's if it's from the web version. In the app it's even worse: you need to memorize the link, type it into the browser, the browser returns you to the new video in the app, but it removes the previous video feed.

Considering that chains can be up to a dozen of videos, it's a very chore. That's one drawback. Another disadvantage is that the chains could break - and then the trendsetter will be lost, he/she will get fewer views - hence less motivation to use the service.

Note that the button recoub - but it only turns the viewed clip into a blank for your version. And it has no "reply" functionality.

A good example here is Twitter with its tracks. The user knows for sure that his reply will not be lost.

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