Vine_Body.jpgby Jennifer Shaheen.


Vine, Twitter’s video-sharing app, has had a vigorous launch. In less than four months Vine became the most popular download at the iOS app store. In June, the New York Times reported 13 million people are using Vine.

Vine allows users to create and, more importantly, share six-second videos with their followers on Twitter and Facebook. These six-second mini-movies are looped, repeating infinitely for greater impact.

The emergence of any new social media tool is inevitably followed by the inquiries of entrepreneurs eager to learn how the platform will make them a better marketer. The six-second time limitation associated with Vine appears at first to be a limiting factor on how useful it could be. But fans of Vine say it’s perfect for today’s consumer—and their shorter attention spans.

“People think initially, ‘What can you do in six seconds?’” says Rodney Rumford, co-founder of Slim Surveys, which provides very short surveys for companies to share with their customers via their website. “But that’s only until they experiment with it. When you see what other people are doing, and how you can have this rapid, intense emotional experience right on your phone, right in your hand, you begin to see all of the possibilities.”

The Six-Second Question: How much can you accomplish?

“Vine gives people a flash insight into your company,” says Meghan Keaney Anderson, who runs product marketing at HubSpot, an inbound marketing company.  “We’ve seen Vines work to humanize a brand and engage customers.” As companies start to integrate Vines more into their marketing, she adds, a few trends have started to emerge on what works best. “If you provide a service, try using Vines to provide quick tips to demonstrate your expertise. If your business has a product line, give sneak peeks of new releases,” Keaney Anderson says. “We’ve also seen

Vine used really well to harvest creative testimonials from customers or express thanks to your supporters. For a brief moment, you’re inviting viewers inside to see what your company has been up to—so the creative opportunities are vast.”

Vine can help businesses with limited marketing budgets be competitive, says Stephanie Schwab, CEO of Crackerjack Marketing, a digital and social media marketing agency. “What I love about Vine is how relatively easy it is to create cool content with very little time or cost investment.” Schwab explains. “Although some brands have created some really cool, and likely expensive, Vines, it's also really easy to create intriguing content on zero budget and with only a little bit of planning. It's a way for any business to get into video, without the production costs or editing expertise.”

Vine_PQ.jpgExperimentation is essential

Since Vine is an emerging platform, individual business owners are left to figure out how they can make the ability to share short video work best for their companies. “The best thing is that it’s a wide-open field, and small businesses can test, learn, and apply easily without expensive equipment or previous experience with video,” Keaney Anderson says. The number of businesses both large and small integrating Vines into their marketing is still fairly low, she points out, so there’s a real opportunity to stand out. “As with any new medium it’s best to dedicate a small amount of time to testing out Vines,” she says. “Set clear metrics for success; for example, number of visits or new followers generated. Then test it on one campaign to see if it shows promise for your business.”

Rumford agrees. “Experiment internally first,” he says. “Set up a test account first. Play with it so you can see the opportunities before you put anything out there on the main stage.” But realize that it can take a while to figure Vine out.

Filmmakers use a technique called storyboarding to outline and organize their shots before making a movie. Every Vine video should have one clear point. Make sure you know what you’re attempting to say, and line up between four to 12 shots that help you get your marketing message across.

Share videos to maximize impact

“Vine in and of itself is still a relatively small platform, and only available on mobile,” Schwab notes. “Therefore it's crucial to combine Vine with other social media platforms, to maximize the impact of Vines and make them accessible across the web.” She recommends to her small business clients that they share their Vines on Twitter and Facebook. You can also embed Vines on your website.

SBC newsletter logo.gif“You’ve got a couple of other assets to support each Vine,” Keaney Anderson adds.

“Vines are typically accompanied by a line of description on Twitter or a hashtag. That description can provide more context or act as a launch point for your Vine.” For example, you can ask a question in the text that your Vine visually answers. Make sure you put as much thought into the written message accompanying a Vine as the visuals, she adds.

Six seconds isn’t a lot of time, but with strategic planning, smart cinematography, and a consistent commitment to sharing Vines on multiple platforms, small business owners have a powerful new marketing tool at their disposal.