The Visual Trickery of Vine: How Agencies and Brands Can Use the Fledgling Platform
If you haven’t heard about or used Vine yet, it won’t be too long before you’re caught in its tractor beam. Vine is a mobile service (currently only on iOS) that creates short, quirky looping videos. It works because of this:
- It’s the video equivalent of Instagram.
- It’s the video equivalent of the animated GIF, complete with hypnotic looping.
- It’s what 140-character tweets would be as moving images and sound.
While there are limitations in using the current version of Vine, the app has incredible potential to break out and has some unique features that are fertile ground for brands.
— Tim Letscher (@let5ch) January 24, 2013
How does Vine work?
Record video with your rear-facing camera (more on that below) for up to six seconds, and your creation will loop automatically, including the audio. The videos can be a straight six seconds or broken up into fragments of your choosing (six 1-second videos for example). Already people have been experimenting with quasi stop motion animations and visual trickery like disappearing shoes or cats. The experience of using Vine to record video is a refreshing advancement in functionality. Gone are the buttons that mimic the real world. Gone are any actions that aren’t absolutely essential. Vine’s co-founder and creative director, Rus Yusupov (@rus), has a spot-on write up on the design philosophies that guided Vine’s development. Its purposeful simplicity puts it in the position to be the Instagram of video. Being owned by Twitter certainly doesn’t hurt either.
Browsing the people you follow (just like Twitter and Instagram) is sort of magical; it’s wicked fast and seamlessly swaps the audio from one post to the next, even over a data network. Because the videos are so short, the perceived time suck is seriously reduced when comparing this to other social video apps like Viddy or SocialCam. Much like Twitter, your account can follow other Vines and others can follow you.
One limitation that could be a speed bump for brands is that in the latest version, you can only create Vines from the camera in real time — no importing previously filmed footage from a library and no going back to edit any glitches in your six seconds. After experimenting a bit with the app, it’s amazing how often I found myself re-recording a Vine to get it just right. In the case of trying to capture a moment that will really only happen once like a concert or sporting event, if you miss it the first time, you miss it for all time. While this is limiting, it can be liberating too, encouraging spontaneity, experimentation and authenticity.
What are people making so far? What can a brand do?
While it’s only been out for a little over two weeks, already creative minds are tinkering with the possibilities. There’s a lot of visual trickery, similar to what’s being done on Cinemagram and experimentation with the six seconds. And because the Vine loops, it’s ideal for hypnotic sights and sounds. It’s also worth noting that as of this writing, the app only accesses the rear-facing camera. I hope it stays this way – it gives me the feeling that people are telling stories about what’s going on around them instead of the narcissistic potential of the front facing camera. The end result is mini stories and quirky sight gags. For example, Sir Paul McCartney has posted Vines that are visual riddles to his songs. Sure he could film himself for six seconds singing a couple bars from “Blackbird,” but this alternative is more fun and probably more rewarding for him as well. The Brooklyn Nets quickly set up an account. So did Malibu Rum. Other celebrities like Zach Braff and Jimmy Fallon are playing with the medium too.
Can you name this song…? vine.co/v/bJjdTLBnwx1
— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) January 29, 2013
Warming up, the Brooklyn way. vine.co/v/bJg1axXlLgL
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 29, 2013
— Malibu Rum (@Malibu_Rum) January 26, 2013
One particular feature in Vine that could open up to brands is the #hashtag themes section under the “Explore” navigation. I imagine there are plenty of products and brands that would line up to own one of these tiles for a day or a week. Vine should be thinking the same thing.
Will anyone see the videos?
The Vine community is definitely exploding in the early adopter circles, but since the videos are so easily shared, exposure to your videos relies heavily on existing social audiences. Getting in early as a brand can be a great way to earn some PR, especially if the videos support a big idea.
Will Vine generate sales for clients?
Think of this as another social extension of a brand. It’s an extremely nimble way to get good quality video published to your social channels. Because of the limits mentioned above, I think many clients will hesitate jumping in because of Vine’s lo-fi, real-time nature, but think about the rise of Instagram. It’s a safe bet to get in early and grow with the community.
Will Vine make the agency lots of money?
Not by itself, but it’s good to know and understand. There could be recurring revenue if there’s a planned production schedule and if it can fit into a campaign’s activation plan. You could make a big splash with a known brand name by being a first adopter. Right now, there are no tools for tricking out your account page and accounts are only visible on a phone, but I don’t think that a desktop version would be out of the question for the future, similar to YouTube channels or the desktop version of Instagram.
How do clients get on Vine?
Signing up is simple:
Step 1: Download the app from the iTunes store, and create an account.
Step 2: Choose whether to link your Twitter and Facebook accounts. While it’s not necessary, just keeping your created Vines on Vine limits how many people will see them.
Step 3: Promote your account through your normal social channels and embed Vines on another site if you create a series.
For more information, visit Vine.
As the Director of Digital Strategy and Analytics at the agency Colle+McVoy, Tim leads in the creation of programs that guide client interactions online and across the broader digital experience. A chronic early adopter of apps and services, he can't help but think of ways his clients can use emerging technology and trends in ways that still make sense to their overall goals. As the world of digital has exploded to include basically all waking moments in a person's life, it's no longer a question of online/offline but awake/asleep. In a world where the rules are in a constant state of flux, he leads a group of digital strategists and analysts, providing steady guidance both on what to do now and how to prepare for the future.