Ever since its launch in January 2013, Vine has had a significant impact in the way videos are recorded and shared online. These six-second clips seem to have taken the world by storm, especially among teens. Chances are, you've seen Vines pop up in your Facebook or Twitter newsfeed, or you've seen a massive compilation on YouTube that speeds through different clips so quickly that you feel you'll suffer from visual and auditory overload.
Just like any other new platform that has come about in the digital age, Vine's sudden burst in popularity (especially with those coveted Millennial and Generation Z consumers) meant that marketers were soon snapping up the service in an effort to broaden their reach. After all, when a platform garners approximately 1.5 billion viewed loops each day, there is ample opportunity for brand exposure.
The State of Vine
But do marketers really have their Vine game locked down? Brandsonvine lists the brands that have the most total loops on the platform. While some would question the methodology of what the site considers a brand (isn't Harry Styles a celebrity?), it still offers a clear view of how far brands have to go in catching up to non-marketing channels.
As of August 21, 2015, the NBA stood as Vine's most-looped brand, with 781,002,726 loops. The MLB was its next-closest competitor, with 405,685,706 total loops. But moving away from the sports teams and organizations that dominate the top of the list (where fans would no doubt love to watch replays of top plays), when do we get to something that is universally considered a brand, and not a sports team, celebrity or news/TV outlet?
The winner, according to Brandsonvine's statistics, is Chrysler Autos, which as of August 21 had garnered 52,070,566 total loops.
These numbers all sound quite impressive. After all, Chrysler's views equate to more than 85,000 hours of branded content watched in six-second bites by consumers. But put these numbers alongside the top Vine stars, and it's clear that brands have a lot of catching up to do. ReelSEO's monthly roundup of the top Vine channels found comedian Lele Pons coming out on top, with 431 million loops - in July alone. She also gained over 422,000 new followers during that same time frame - nearly 14 times Chrysler's total following, which sits just under 25,000.
Some may argue that this type of disparity is fairly normal on social media. After all, social media's younger-skewing audience is more apt to follow musicians, actors or athletes than a brand or even a favorite TV show. But the gap also seems to be much smaller on other platforms.
According to Fan Page List, McDonald's currently stands as the top brand on Facebook, with 57,921,780 fans and over 265,000 "talking about" its content. Discounting Facebook's own fan pages, the top Facebook fan page belongs to soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, with 104,366,445 fans (with about 4 million "talking about" his page). While there is still a distinct gap between the top brand page and the top non-branded page, the gap is not nearly as wide as it is on Vine.
The Challenge for Brands
So what makes Vine different? Why are brands so much farther behind in terms of following and engagement on this social media platform than others?
A big part of the answer comes from Vine's primary audience and why it uses the platform. While Twitter (Vine's parent company) does not give out information on the video platform's user demographics, third-party surveys have indicated that nearly 32 percent of teens age 14 to 17 use Vine at least once a week. Similar to Snapchat, Vine reaches a younger audience that apparently prefers content that can be digested in a matter of seconds.
Brands' lack of Vine virality can easily be traced to the main reason many teens flock to Vine in the first place - comedy. A quick glance at ReelSEO's list of the 10 most popular Vine stars reveals an important connection - all 10 are comedy channels. As Taylor Loren of Hootsuite noted, "Vine is centered around users competing to be as funny as possible in only 6 seconds."
And this is where brands and marketers are missing the mark. Marketing sites frequently run pieces touting the "Best Brands on Vine" or "Best Branded Vines," and while many of these six-second clips are indeed clever in their own right, the vast majority of them are missing that crucial ingredient that is the core of the platform's appeal - comedy.
Believe it or not, marketing executives and teenagers are two vastly different groups of people. So while a branded Vine may seem to have all the right ingredients to be a clever way of demonstrating a brand's personality or products, at the end of the day, if it doesn't fit the type of humor Vine's users love, it will quickly be labeled as "boring" and be tossed aside for a more entertaining video.
If brands really wish to connect with Vine's young audience, they need to realize that what works on other social media platforms will not necessarily translate to equal levels of success on Vine. Vine humor tends to focus on the slapstick, the socially awkward, the ridiculous and the profane - much of what plays out on the most popular Vine channels would never fly on television.
Some brands have already realized this, tapping into the influential reach of Vine stars for collaborations and promotions. While reaching out to these influencers can prove a bit costly, the expanded reach and views offered by such collaborations may be well worth it for brands seeking to appeal to a younger audience.
Of course, brands can also create content without the direct assistance of a Vine star. And the solution is really quite simple. Watch Vine. Take a look at what humor is actually popular and is shared by the app's users. And then incorporate it into the content that will be pushed through the site. A Vine loop does not need to be presented in crisp HD or feature perfect sound - all it truly needs is quick, comedic content. This may be an uncomfortable change, but if brands wish to become relevant on Vine, they need to present themselves in a way that this oh-so-desired target audience will appreciate and respond to.