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Ripe for the Picking: Why Vine Offers Marketers a New Platform for Engagement

26/02/2013 13:33 GMT | Updated 23/04/2013 10:12 BST

Almost one month ago Twitter launched Vine, a mobile application designed to record and share short snippets of video. Vine clips are effectively the video equivalent of Instagram, on Twitter. They allow users to share their feelings, thoughts and stories in six-second clips. The question is, can Vine become as successful as Instagram or find a place in business as Twitter has done?

One of the joys of Instagram is the way it can make an average image look appealing, just by adding a filter. It means even the least-gifted photographer can create something that other people may like. Equally, Twitter has mass appeal because it provides ordinary people with a mouthpiece from which they can share their musings. Instead of being a hindrance as many commentators predicted, the 140-character limit has become an attractive feature as people increasingly realise that sharing information in short, bite-sized chunks is simply the best way to keep others interested. There's no question we are now living in what we might call an age of short attention spans.

So where does video fit in? It is widely accepted that more people will watch a video than read text. They will pay more attention to it, learn more from it and spend more time on a website. In my opinion, the sweet spot for Vine in a business context is its potential for creating a series of micro-content that is the shortened form of something larger. For example, if Google launched a new chat feature it could use a series of Vine clips to show how to invite friends as a way to drive awareness ahead of launching with a longer video. There are plenty of businesses already giving the new platform a try, like this vine from General Electric.

This begs the question: "Is six seconds too short to be practically useful?" Not in my opinion. While the time limit is restrictive and watching some clips may make you feel rushed to take it all in, the well-thought through and well-executed clips will be perfectly understandable. In addition, while advancements in mobile technology means we can all easily capture motion and sound, most of us have a limit to the amount of data we can download, so a time limit is good, because it sets a maximum potential file size for each video. Plus, the nature of navigating content in Vine means we just wouldn't watch as many clips if the limit was any longer.

If business has learned anything from social media, it will know very few people today have the time (or inclination) to plough through heaps of sales material. But show them something quirky, fun and fast and there's a good chance they will take notice. We're seeing more and more businesses use video to convey a message. The core function is to explain a product or service in a straightforward and easy to understand way, and to convey exactly how it will benefit potential customers.

While Twitter and Instagram have amassed huge followings, video is a different beast. Successful clips usually require a story, timing and simple flow - things that a casual user may struggle to incorporate into a six second clip. Brand marketers, on the other hand, will likely look to Vine as a tool to run engagement campaigns with communities where consumers are encouraged to film their own clips and post them, or for promoting intrigue ahead of a launch. But I'd suggest that for conveying detailed information in one simplified snippet, Vine is perhaps not the answer.