Climbing On Board with Vine

vine logo

Twitter recently acquired Vine, a new app which allows users to share looping video clips of up to six seconds. Because it uses stop-start recording, the app itself is easy to jump into:  lifting a finger from the screen stops recording, and you can pick up again wherever you would like, allowing for a stop motion effect. The six second limit on Vine is the equivalent of twitter’s 140 character maximum–keep it witty, keep it brief.

Almost immediately after twitter made the announcement, brands began adding Vine videos to their regular and promoted tweets. Rolling Stone, Lucky and People have shared entertainment news alongside videos from their offices, while Armani went behind-the-scenes at fashion week. Ritz, Red Vines, and Cadbury UK put out silly videos using their snacks, which were sometimes entertaining, sometimes redundant.

Should you jump on board too?  Here are some of the pros and cons:


  • Get noticed – Social media is becoming an increasingly visual medium, and this technology is designed to grab the viewer’s attention. If you want your content to stand out in a sea of text heavy tweets, Vine is one way to do it (until the twitterverse becomes saturated, of course.) If you can express something better through video, it’s also more likely to be re-tweeted and eventually go viral (fingers crossed.)
  • Engage your audience – The possibilities of Vine are endless: go behind-the-scenes, create a teaser trailer for a new product, do a demonstration, or make your fans laugh. You can accomplish a lot in just six seconds–especially when they’re looping!
  • Host a contest – If you don’t feel like making a vine, have your fans do it for you–just be sure your prize is a big enough incentive. Making a Vine is more work than “Pin it to Win It,” but the end results will be more unique and you’ll have more engaging content to share.


  • It’s deceptively simple – Think all you need is an intern and a smart phone? Think again. To make a successful Vine you’ll need an interesting concept that fits into the six second limit. You’ll also need someone who can time it just right to achieve the desired effect–Vine does not allow editing, so any mistakes require starting from scratch.
  • It’s slow – How long is anyone going to wait around for a six second video to load?
  • It’s not for kids – After some users uploaded age-restricted material, Vine now makes users confirm that they are over 17 before downloading the app. So if you’re trying to reach a younger/pre-teen demographic, Vine may not be for you.
  • It’s still finding its voice – Like any new medium, what “works” creatively is still in development – the most exciting and frustrating time in establishing a foothold.  Great content begets viewership, which begets more great creative.  That’s what it will take to turn this into a “don’t miss” medium.

Takeaways for Marketers

We love the range of new possibilities for engagement that Vine brings, and since it’s owned by Twitter, we’ll probably be seeing it for a while. Yet just because anyone with a smart phone can make a vine, it doesn’t mean that “anyone with a smartphone” can make one to represent your brand. If you want to maintain your image, engage your followers, and earn that retweet, you have to put in more effort.

And there’s the rub – the app is free, but the Vine is not. By the time someone (preferably in creative) has thought of a good concept, found the props, set the lighting, and reshot the Vine to perfection, it will have cost you time if not money. It is a frequent misconception that social media is low or no cost (for a great example of just how much goes into managing the workflow, check out Jeremiah Owyang’s post.) Once you’re finished, the video will work its way through the feed quickly, so you’ll have to create more if you want to keep the momentum going.

If you have a large marketing budget and a strong presence on Twitter, then take the first mover advantage and try Vine to jazz up your social media and create buzz. But if your budget is smaller, Vine is not yet important enough to demand a chunk of your digital attention. Wait for it to creep up the social media ladder before you take the plunge.