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What and why you need to know about micro-video social app Vine (without the smutty details)

Now, a little more than two weeks since its launch, you might know Vine, the latest social media app in Twitter's stable, as "that GIF porn app" (Vine videos are in fact not GIFs, despite appearing quite similar). And while it's true that Vine initially made headlines for all the wrong reasons, it is quite a neat little app, and it's already gaining traction with brands.

Its slick UI, intuitive functionality and association with Twitter means it's well placed to become a useful tool for marketers everywhere.

On the Vine

I've spent the last week becoming intimately acquainted with Vine and in that time I've realised a couple of things.

  • People enjoy posting pointless nonsense that no one in their right mind would ever look at, let alone like or repost; and
  • No one is in their right mind.

They can't be. In the last seven days I've scrolled through videos of babies falling asleep, snow 'magically' disappearing from cars and dogs riding scooters, each with hundreds, if not thousands, of likes.

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But while Vine may at first glance appear nothing more than a platform for inexperienced filmmakers to post a short amount of barely edited content (Vine limits videos to six seconds, and editing options are sparse), isn't this exactly what Twitter offers, albeit with text instead of video?

And who would have thought 140 characters was enough to effectively inform or entertain? And while Twitter boasts a large roster of professionals (journalists, commentators, experts, etc) a fair portion of those posting on Twitter are amateurs (according to this infographic almost 50% of Twitter users have no college education), certainly not professional writers by anyone's standards. And Twitter has experienced incredible success.

So is Vine the next Twitter? I doubt it. But there might be a thing or two it does well enough to be worth your time.

What is it?

Vine is a video-sharing app that allows users to capture motion and sound and create short videos of no more than six seconds, which then loop until the end of time (or until you exit the app). It's tapping into the internet's endless fascination with the animated GIF and bringing it to the masses.

Vine lets you post creations to Twitter and Facebook, as well as currently hosting its own sharing community in-app, à la Instagram.

In fact, Vine shares a lot of similarities with the filter-rific photo-sharing app, its interface and functionality, especially.

Everything, from the hashtags to the minimal interaction options (a comment and 'like' button are all you get), meant I couldn't shake the feeling that I was using Instagram with videos.

But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Instagram has proved popular, not just with latte-sipping, cynicism-spewing hipsters, but with almost everyone who owns a smartphone. I'm proud (embarrassed?) to say that even my own mum has embraced 'gramming.

But what does it mean for you?

It remains to be seen whether Vine holds the same universal appeal as Instagram, but for now it really doesn't matter. Vine's integration with Twitter means posts appear as links within tweets so there's no building an audience from scratch.

Brands are already playing with the app, testing its marketing potential.

Urban Outfitters was the earliest Vine adopter, posting – of all things – a video of some puppies. But while cute, it wasn't exactly a branding stroke of genius.

The Gap took a more interesting approach. They did what all the best tweeters do: they took the restrictions imposed on them and managed to deliver an engaging and creative message. In this case, a decade's worth of ads in just a few seconds.

There are loads more examples of brands getting it right. A coffee shop demonstrates how to make the perfect latte, NBC gets early footage out of a news story unfolding, and Simon and Schuster show their human side with a stuffed animal video. (Check out how other brands have used Vine so far here.)

Vine can offer you:

  • An instant audience
  • A (potentially) more engaging and creative medium than Twitter or Instagram
  • Unexplored waters in which to make a splash

Now's your chance to get on the Vine early. And, if all else fails, there's always the Vine-porn business.

 

Richard Parker

The Online Anthropologist

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Richard Parker is head of strategy at content marketing agency Edge, where he works with brands including Woolworths, St George and Foxtel.
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