A few months ago, our Silicon Valley overlords came up with a new toy to distract us: Vine. Immediately this became Very Important to marketers, and I rolled my eyes. “There they go again,” I thought. “Recommending that brands seize on some newfangled silly social tool without regard to return and at the expense of what they do best.” (I really thought this. The voice in my head is quite erudite.)
Here’s the thing. I was wrong about Vine. It’s actually pretty amazing, and it might be the coolest social tool for brands since, well, Twitter itself. Do I think it’ll make or break your next campaign? Of course not. But the limitations of the medium provide a cool platform for brands to do certain things very, very well. Below, check out our guide to the effective use of Vine.
What is Vine? Simply put, Vine is a mobile app that allows users to record very short (six seconds or less) snippets of video. When viewers go to watch the video (itself called a Vine), it loops, creating a rather mesmerizing effect. Here’s a Vine of the CEB Marketing team, hard at work.
Vine was originally a separate company, it was bought by Twitter last fall, and it launched to users in January. You mostly run into Vines via Twitter, although I’ve seen them shared elsewhere (Facebook, embedded on pages) as well.
Why is Vine cool? In general, for the same reason Twitter is cool and haikus are cool: imposing restrictions – arbitrary or otherwise – on communications often leads to lots of creativity, as users try to pack as much meaning through the channel as possible.
For marketers specifically, Vine offers the opportunity to quickly impart reasonably complex messages in a channel that seems to compel multiple viewings. In other words, it gives us the opportunity to create audiovisual memes – snippets of information that are so short and so digestible that we can’t get enough.
How should we as marketers be using Vine? Obviously, this technology has only recently reached our phones, and so this list is far from definitive. But the most interesting Vines I’ve seen from marketers and brands so far have all had to do with illustrating the characteristics or potential uses of a product, in ways that are so infectious so as to nearly compel sharing.
Here’s an example from pursemaker Monica Botkier, showing just how much you can fit in their Valentina Mini line of purses.
Here’s another great one, from Bacardi UK, illustrating how to use their rum to make a Cuba Libre (aka a rum and coke):
Here’s Gap, illustrating what kind of shoes you can wear with a new line of colorful pants: You get the idea. If you’ve got a product that lends itself to quick feature display, or, you’ve got a unique use for a product that you want people to quickly grasp, Vine is an amazing tool. For more inspiration, check out Bon Appetit’s gallery of six-second recipes.
How should I avoid using Vine? So, there’s two levels of things I think people should try to avoid when using this tool; tactical and strategic. When making Vines themselves, you should probably try and avoid using too many camera angles – that can just make the video very confusing. Don’t go in without a plan; consider doing some lightweight storyboarding – six seconds is a surprisingly long amount of time. Pay attention to sound: sound is muted by default when watching Vines, but some users turn it on.
From a strategic perspective, though, you should be thinking hard about the capabilities of the medium and how they relate to the product you’re creating. So, if you’re just taking some random video around the office to “humanize” your brand, that’s probably not the best use of Vine. If you’re using a stop-motion technique, as in this GE video, to build brand engagement, that’s a lot better. Don’t just use Vine as an excuse to put more branded content in social media feeds; explore the creative space the platform offers and create something interesting and worth sharing.
But CEB Marketing members – we want to hear from you. How have you successfully used Vine, and what kind of cool examples have you seen in the wild?