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Digital marketing on a Vine–Twitter’s new video venue

Twitter’s new Vine has some social media and marketing experts tumbling with excitement. Within a month of its launch, it’s already being declared the next big thing in digital media marketing. But is it, really? How long does it take you to tell your brand’s story? Can you do it in just six-seconds? In video? With sound? Does 140 characters suddenly seem excessive? Welcome to Twitter’s visual challenge. In just a little over two weeks, Vine – the new video app acquired by the company in October 2012 and launched on January 24 – has captured the imagination of many social media and marketing specialists. But Vine has also gathered its share of detractors – and faced its first scandal, if you will. Within a week of launch, porn video clips started to appear. Twitter acted quickly, blocking the #porn hashtag and raising the minimum age to 17.

Ann Handley, Chris Brogan and David Meerman Scott have all gushed about Vine and its potential for changing marketing. Handley called it “simple, stupid and brilliant.” But Jay Baer of Convince and Convert says the idea of Vine changing content marketing is just foolishness. Meanwhile, the folks at Mashable were none too shy in suggesting some changes to the app to improve editing and sharing.

It’s true there are some problems. It’s simple, yes – but, almost too simple. I’d like just a little more editing power, and the ability to sandbox a few videos before publishing directly to Vine. There’s no way to connect with your Facebook friends who might also be on Vine. The biggest social network saw fit to cut that link. And most importantly, search and share capabilities on the app are underwhelming.

These shortcomings hinder Vine as a marketing tool. Unlike Twitter, Vine videos aren’t accessible from its website, though several websites that aggregate them have already appeared. (Check out VineRoulette, JustVined, and Cats on Vine.) This means that searching for and finding Vine videos isn’t particularly easy to do.

Vine does offer the capability to share videos to Facebook and Twitter and to embed them on a blog or website.

Yet, Vine has potential because of its primary focus on mobile (which will inevitably become the primary computing platform) and the built-in advantage of Twitter’s reach.

If Handley and others are right, what makes Vine better than your typical YouTube video for marketing?

  • Ease of sharing. According to eMarketer, 92% of mobile video viewers share video content, and Vine makes it very easy to record a moment and post it quickly to the Vine network.
  • Immediacy. Some venues are perfect for Vine, as the recent New York Fashion Week demonstrated. Designers and editors alike were quick to post runway and promotional videos to Vine.
  • Short & funny clips rule. Just six seconds in length, Vine videos must tell a story quickly. This brevity forces users to create videos that are higher in emotion and rely more on comedy to get attention. In other words, lazy won’t cut it in this medium. Sure, there are plenty of mind-numbing Vines already, but we’re still in the early experimentation stage.
  • How-to teasers. Some of the most intriguing Vines are the ones that zip through a task, such as painting your nails or cooking soup. Many of these Vines incorporate images of branded products – making Vine a great promotional tool.

The major hurdle to effective marketing through Vine is its inability to effectively incorporate a call to action. It doesn’t appear possible to include links within a newly created Vine, and most videos aren’t being shared automatically in Twitter or on Facebook, which makes it difficult to find or share them. Without an easy way to link from the app to more information, the ability to generate leads will be difficult.

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