With any new technology or platform or device, one thing is inevitable: Brands looking to innovate will rush in headfirst, whether or not there is a convincing reason to do so. On one hand, that’s not a bad thing—experimentation is the only way to learn about a new tech and grok its strengths and weaknesses. On the other hand, it makes for a lot of gratuitous brand stuff.
The everybody-into-the-pool effect has been particularly strong with social video app Vine, owing in part to ease of use and in part to, well, the fact that it’s sort of a fun thing to do.
At first blush, it would be easy to discount Vine as having staying power beyond that early experimentation. Six seconds isn’t much time to tell a story and in lesser hands the results often resemble glorified GIFs. However, Vine’s runaway success since Twitter acquired it before its January launch suggests that such a dismissal misses the potential impact of the microvideo service. Vine quickly became the top free app on iTunes, where it remains in the top 10, and analysis of the nascent service is starting to emerge, revealing just how much people are sharing the mini-vids.
Unruly Media recently released research that found, on average, five tweets per second contain a Vine link and branded content accounts for 4% of the Top 100 traced Vines (this compares to the 1% of branded content on Unruly’s chart of the top 100 viral videos).
So what makes a good brand Vine video? It’s something that actually takes advantage of the platform’s unique format to add value—to do something useful or entertaining (versus compiling a series of random images). Take Canadian TV show Continuum. As we previously reported, the show’s creators are using Vine videos to impact the show’s storyline by allowing fans to side with or against a resistance movement. Participation will dictate how the show’s season will wrap, thereby creating a bridge between the linear and digital experience. Meanwhile, in quite possibly the most valuable use of Vine yet, home improvement store Lowe’s has used Vine to create quick-hit home improvement tips to great effect.
For Lowe’s, success with Vine was born out of an already proven strategy. The company had previously released a series of photo-based home improvement tips on its Facebook page. Dubbed Shareable Solutions, the images showed ways to solve little household problems. With Vine, the company has expanded this campaign with a series of illuminating little videos, such as showing how a rubber band can help extract a stripped screw, or how using cayenne pepper can deter rodent pests.
Brad Walters, director of social media and emerging platforms at Lowe’s, says that since Vine was an unproven platform, their approach was to use video to bring an established idea to the next level. When evaluating any new communication tool, Walter says the litmus test is whether or not it can provide value for customers. "If we can’t provide value to our audience, then it’s maybe not the right fit. We saw the opportunity to create value with Vine.
"We felt that if we could use it in a static images to share these tips, we could certainly portray it in six seconds. Though some of the tips are more complex, so some you might have to watch them a couple of times. But the beauty is that they loop, so we felt we could put more content in them," says Walters, referring to the more narratively and stylistically ambitious squirrel Vine. "The ones that people like and share the most were the very simple ones. But people liked the squirrel because it told an entire story in six seconds."
Will Boudreau, ECD at BBDO, the agency behind the Lowe’s work, says "At first, six seconds seems quite limiting, but then when you have parameters, it becomes quite creative. It makes you think better." The barrier to entry is also extremely low. In creating the Vines for Lowe’s, BBDO sought out Vine super-user Meagan Cignoli to direct and shoot them in their offices at virtually no cost. "If there’s one thing the Internet has proved, it’s that shareable video is extremely popular. It’s wonderful that you can create six-second videos that you can instantly share with such a low time commitment."
In the slideshow above we look at nine brands using Vine to its full effect.
[Image: Flickr user Rupert Ganzer]