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Fruit of the Vine: The Race to Conquer the Six Second Video Platform

ImageFruit of the Vine: The Race to Conquer the Six Second Video Platform

There’s a lot to be said for Vine’s meteoric rise into the pantheon of Social Media success stories. The six second movie sharing app, which was bought by Twitter back in October 2012, has certainly silenced its initial critics, who were at first sceptical that the reductionist principle behind the ubiquitous tweet could be successfully supplanted into a video platform. By June 2013 though, Facebook had released its rival fifteen second video version of its Instagram site and the zeitgeist seemed clear. Shorter really had become the next big thing in video marketing.

As with all new social media platforms the digital marketing world hasn’t taken long to pick up on the potential of this new and exciting platform. But how can you exploit a video app that only gives you a mere 6 seconds to get your message across? Using Vine as a marketing platform is inevitably going to involve some radical rethinking of how brands can interact within their communities.

Putting it into Context

Comparing a Vine video to a YouTube video, is like comparing a Tweet to a blog post; the similarity ends with their employment of language to convey a point. In much the same way, Vine and YouTube’s similarity ends with their use of moving images to convey a point. The time constraints of Vine necessitate a distinct divergence in approach to that taken with traditional video marketing channels. Whilst Vine’s power is limited in many ways, it is through this mandated abruptness that marketers will be forced into employing a new level of concision, and thus innovation. You wouldn’t paint your masterpiece on a postage stamp, but that’s not to say postage stamps don’t serve a singularly useful purpose.

The mandatory constraints of Vine’s six second window, forces both the video marketer and the community at large to create content that is both highly engaging and highly condensed. In much the same way that Twitter quickly established itself as a commentating platform for real time events, telling a story in six seconds on Vine is often therefore impossible without a pre-assumed context.

Time and geography all play into this kind of real-time reactionary storytelling and effective marketing must rely heavily on a producer’s insights and ability to play off of cultural and chronological markers very rapidly. Planning your Vine content around pertinent events should form part of an overarching Vine strategy, whilst responding to the minute-to-minute unpredictables at said events, should be part of your day to day tactical responses created on-the-fly.

Part of a Multi-Channelled Approach

As more and more people upgrade their phones to smartphones and become connected to the web and social media 24/7, understanding how we browse and consume content in this new forever-connected world is essential.

When it comes to video, the story isn’t about the device being used but rather the context of the user, argues Jon Mowat, of Hurricane Media. ‘The Opportunity is there for brands that can tell their story well across channels. Mobile platform doesn’t matter: it’s the channels, and how you use them together that counts.’

Marketing on Vine must be about understanding and appreciating the cultural landscapes that your audience find themselves in. Planning and reacting is a key strategic consideration when planning your content marketing strategy, as is fully involving your community, so as the lines between social media engagement and social media marketing across video platforms continue to blur, effective marketers will have learnt to adapt and become part of the very communities they wish to influence.

The Right Place at the Right Time

As a result of Vine’s pithy nature, engagement in this brave new world is often less about creating the story than it is about commentating, parodying or adding to an existing story. Vine marketers must learn to use the platform much in the same vein that comic book artists employ thought bubbles to their comic book creations, representing internal commentary and perspective. Vine is that thought bubble, enabling marketers to create highly personalised vignettes into real world events that are both culturally poignant and brand relevant.

This real world engagement has placed the video marketer in the stalls and studio audiences at large televised events, in much in the same way Twitter did for social media marketers shortly after its release in 2006. Greg Jarobe at Search Engine Watch thinks ‘Vine will become instrumental for brands looking to capitalize on real-time video marketing opportunities at tent-pole events’ in 2014, something he attributes largely to the number of big global sporting events that are taking place such as the Super Bowl, the Winter Olympics and the World Cup in Brazil.

Big sporting events like the Super Bowl or Winter Olympics are the perfect example of how marketers are rushing to use Vine to engage with their target demographics in a real time environment, creating amusing skits and sketches about an event, before, during and after it has occurred. This kind of adaptive marketing isn’t about being in the right place at the right time, so much as being in the right place at the right time and having the right thing to say.

A New Art Form?

Vine is undoubtedly establishing itself as the quintessential tool in the field of ‘real time marketing’, something North American chief strategy officer for Mindshare, Jordan Bitterman, thinks is engendering a new art form. Spearheading this new art form is a wave of amateur and professional video producers, who are specialising in creating content that reacts to cultural events in amusing and imaginative ways.

Vine’s success is indicative of a trend towards a continuing compression of content length across the Internet. The waning attention spans of online information consumers may or may not be driving this trend, and will undoubtedly a hot topic for debate amongst social commentators and policy makers, but to Internet marketer the short video format represent a whole new set of challenges that require a whole new set of responses.

Despite the huge amount of evidence that points towards our shrinking attention spans, it is important to remember the power of engaging content to hold our interest. For decades, Hollywood films have been getting longer and many of us become immersed in big budget, long running TV series, from the likes of HBO. These trends in cinema and television viewing habits seem to buck the scientific orthodoxy on our shrinking attention spans.

Our behaviour online seems very different however, and the growth in Vine’s popularity does at the very least suggest the appetite for this kind of drastically snippy content isn’t going away. Whether this is down to shrinking attention spans, or endemic to the impulsive nature of the web, remains to be seen.

As Jerry Seinfeld once put it, ‘this whole idea of an attention span is, I think, a misnomer. People have an infinite attention span if you are entertaining them.’

With Vine, you have just six seconds. Go to it.

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