Whither Vine? Social media marketing dynamite or fiddly fad?

Vine. Is it the preserve of a small subset of young millennials? Or does it represent an opportunity for your brand to harness a low-cost, viral tool that can reach, engage and entertain your target audience? Discuss.

Me, the Screwdriver, the Vine and my wife

I have just found out the (surprisingly simple) answer to a problem that would have driven me a small bit mad on quite a few occasions. The problem? How to unscrew a screw whose threads are worn.

Instead of cursing loudly and screwing harder (easy, Tiger), what I should have been doing for years was taking a rubber band and placing that between the screw and the driver before unscrewing with ease. One of those things that once seen, you think ‘Of course. How did I not know this?’

I found the solution in a Vine. One from Lowe’s hardware chain in the good ole’ US of A. And I think it’s a brilliantly simple little piece of work. Hover over the lower part of the Vine and some explanatory text will come up. I defy you to check out their vine channel and watch only one vine. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. 🙂

Naturally, I postponed using this nugget until my wife was in the room and could see the hitherto ‘useless layabout’ effortlessly solving the problem. Post jawdrop, the look turned to something approaching admiration. It still brings a tear to my eye.

So what exactly is Vine?

Vine is a short-form video sharing service that allows users to record and edit five- to six-second-long looping video clips, and to “revine” or share others’ posts with followers. Founded as recently as June 2012, Vine blasted onto the social media scene in Jan 2013 after being acquired by Twitter. Within 3 short months it became the most downloaded free app in the App Store and by August 2013 had gained up to 40 million users. Now over 100 million people watch Vine videos per month with over 1 billion ‘Loops’ (their equivalent of views) per day. Pretty impressive. But not up there with the 284 million Twitter users, or the 1.35 billion facebook users.

Video to dominate the internet

There is a reason Vine has had such an impact and why Twitter decided to buy it so quickly. Two words – Mobile and Video. Vine is built for mobile usage and is founded on quick and simple videos. In Ireland, mobile browsing increased by 30% from 2010 – 2014 while desktop browsing fell by 40%. Along with this, it is estimated that 55% of all internet traffic will be video by 2016, with 2/3 of all mobile data in the world being video by 2017. Those are some shocking numbers with huge ramifications for companies at the forefront of social engagement. Google is even paying attention and beginning to modify search engines for mobile browsing.Vine has really hit the niche early.

Why Vine over other video platforms?

Vine is not the only social video platform out there … YouTube, anyone? How about Instagram, Dailymotion or Vimeo? Sure you can even upload videos to Facebook, why leave there at all? Vine is different from all of these sites, with unique charms of its own. There are many ways to use this app. While it is true that all of this could be achieved through post-production and uploaded to YouTube, Vine is faster, easy to learn and quick in application. It is the tweet of the video or a ‘Twideo’ as we like to call it. Some of its unique features are:

1. The Joy of 6

Vine imposes a strict 6 second limitation to its videos. This means you have to keep it short and sweet. This initially feels like a huge restrictive inconvenience but it 1) forces you to stick to the point and 2) challenges your creativity, as every second counts. You could call it the Tweet of the video world, so it’s no coincidence it was bought by Twitter.

However, like Twitter, you can pack more into it than you might think. Back to Lowe’s. Vine’s user friendly pause function (just tap the screen) means you can shoot longer form video, complete with instructions. The viewer can then advance it frame by frame, pausing to take in detailed instructions on each frame.

2. Unique, real-time editing

With Vine, you can edit in real-time. To record, you press and hold your finger on the screen of the phone. This can turn into simple cutting of the video and stop-animation – when you release your finger the video stops recording, only to begin again from the same position when the finger is re-applied. This technique reduces the friction of post-production and allows you to upload immediately.

3. Crowd of Loopers

The videos automatically loop at the end like a GIF. This can be ignored from a film-making point of view and simply be let happen to show the content again, or you can get creative. Some Viners create their video with the loop in mind to create an illusion in which an action never stops.

Who’s using it in their social media marketing?

You’ve seen Lowe’s above, with 26,000 followers on their Vine channel. But who’s doing it closer to home?

There really aren’t many Irish brands using Vine as yet. But there are a few who are testing it out.

Rabodirect are one of those and deserve credit for the series they have done on savings tips. As you can see, they don’t have many followers, nor many loops on their Vine channel as yet. But they are using them on their Facebook page and getting good traction and viewing there.

OwensDBBConnect created a list of Top 10 Irish brands on Vine that includes Lidl, Paddy Power, the IDA and RTE. However, as you can see, our larger brands are conspicuous by their absence.

Here’s a Vine that we created for our client Wicked e-juice wishing their customers a Happy Christmas. It gained over 4,000 loops, which compared to many of those in the Owens list was impressive. Scroll over the vine and click the speaker icon at the top left for audio, click the screen to pause and play:

Some, such as Tourism Ireland, are being either cautious or too busy elsewhere. They have reserved their space but not published anything as yet.

A bit of rough and ready can be ok

Because it is such a quick ‘capture, edit and publish’ format, Vines are typically quite ‘rough and ready’ in terms of the production values.

Those who get their sports news via ‘The Score’ app will be used to looking at sports footage that has been filmed off ‘de telly’ on the contributor’s phone via Vine and uploaded to the site from the contributor’s couch within minutes of the action. It’s news – speed of delivery is key, production values aren’t always.

Of course, this means that Vine can be a remarkably inexpensive tool. But the really powerful examples, like Lowes, are clearly filmed and edited professionally and then brought into Vine after the event.

So, is Vine a viable marketing channel?

As always, whether or not a particular social platform will be effective for your brand is down to your target market. For example, a B2B company is likely to be more effective on LinkedIn than it will on Facebook with the opposite being true for B2C. If your target market is there, then the answer is ‘yes’.

Vine’s largest user age group is 18-20 year olds. From Q1-Q3 2013 there was a 629% increase of usage among 16-19 year olds. So Vine is definitely hitting home with the younger generation.

Remember, Vine may have its own community platform but it can be shared and used as a tool on other websites. So sharing a Vine in a target-rich location will bring it to your target market and reach those who matter. You could even add it to your email signature, it’s only 6 seconds.

Branded Vines get 400% more shares than branded videos and 1 in 5 tweets contains a Vine link.

This means for the company using Vine and Twitter as a marketing channel, the potential for ROI is huge. People engage more with tweets containing images than text alone but can find a full video too much. Vine strikes the balance between both.

The time frame of 6 seconds is enough for a product demo or simple message to be conveyed. You focus your message into its most concentrated form and deliver it to your audience (The above Vine plays on the vaping term ‘Throat Hit’). Call it ‘micro-advertising’.

The future of Vine

It’s always difficult to predict the future, especially in an ever changing landscape such as the internet.

But, as we’ve mentioned previously, Vine is not alone. Just as Facebook owns Instagram, Twitter owns Vine. Due to this, Vine has a good chance of maintaining a foothold in its present niche and expanding from there.

With the exponential increase in mobile and video browsing Vine is definitely in the right place at the right time.

Vine is both a social media channel and a technology tool. For it to work as a social media marketing tool, the growth or otherwise of the Vine social media channel audience is largely irrelevant, as demonstrated above by Rabodirect. Once brands create their Vine, they can amplify it anywhere – through their desktop site, their mobile marketing, their Facebook and Twitter channels. In a world where attention spans are only getting shorter, it is a la mode. With relatively low production costs, it requires creativity and smarts in its deployment.

It may not be for everybody, but if I was Woodie’s or JP Corry, to name but one category, I would be gearing up for it right now.

256 Media and Vine

As it happens, we in 256 Media have one of Ireland’s leading Vine exponents on our team.

Colm Geoghegan posts under the handle ‘I am Beard’ and has amassed over 14,000 followers for his own Vine account (that’s him showing us his Superpowers with the mug in the Vine up above).

We are going to interview him next week on this very topic and will post that interview in a blog around best practice when creating Vines and how we see this space developing.

There you have it. Now you know a bit more about Vine. And how to deal with a worn screw.

Just trying to ease the hurt.

Here at 256 Media we are experts in creating engaging content. If you like what you’ve read here don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for a free 1 hour consultation on Content Marketing . We will help you define and create the content you need to attract and convert more customers.

About Adrian O'Farrell

Adrian O’Farrell is Head of Client Services for 256, Ireland’s first dedicated content marketing agency. He has worked in marketing for over twenty years, having had his own award-winning marketing agency. He has worked in advertising in both agency, media owner and client side. He is a former Chairman of the Association of Promotional Marketing Consultants.