Saw it on the grape-VINE: how brands are using six-second videos

Bacardi vineBy now everyone should know what Vine is, and you’ve probably also seen people creating some ingenious six-second video masterpieces. But should your brand be embracing it or keeping it at arms length?

For me the answer is simple: “Embrace away”.  In fact, wrap yourself in it like some kind of, I don’t know, ivy-like climbing plant. If you feel Vine is going to provide you with a medium to create content that’s of value and relevance to your audience, then get stuck in and experiment.

The beauty of Vine is its simplicity and low barrier of entry; with a good idea you can produce a Vine for practically nothing.  Why wouldn’t you want to experiment with what’s clearly becoming a popular and talked about tool on that basis? There are enough examples out there of both personal and brand-funded Vines that you can already identify areas where it’s been used to good effect. What’s the worst that can happen?

(Cut to Vine that triggers end-of-world.)

Vine absolutely has a place in a company’s content strategy. In particular as a supporting or trailing piece of content to raise awareness and direct users towards the more in-depth branded destinations or longer-form content experiences where you really want them to be.

Thinking of Vine as a component part of a wider conversation; a trailer leading to something or a punch line as a result of something, immediately gives you some context for how Vine can be a useful tool.  It’s the ‘Guess What?’ before you tell the full story or the punch line at the end of one. Importantly, you should use the characteristics of the medium – short, sharp, visual, immediate, ‘showing’ rather than ‘telling’ – to your advantage rather than attempt to cram a Godfather-style operatic tragedy into it (although now I’m keen to start a ‘guess the movie from my Vine’ competition).

Operating within constraints forces you to think creatively and reduce your core message to an idea people instantly ‘get’, which in itself is a useful exercise. That said, the great thing about a relatively new format is there are no rules; you get to go and make them up.

Of course, if you don’t have a good enough idea to justify it and you’re doing it just so you can tick a ‘see, we’re hip’ box. Then don’t. As with all really good branded content, and particularly with something so immediate as Vine, don’t use it to tell your audience something you want them to know, use it to tell your audience something they’d want to know.

Vine is a little gift that says: “Hey you. Here’s something fun, useful, unusual, surprising and clever.” Hopefully. If you can’t make the format work in your favour by adding something of value through it’s instant visual hit, don’t use it. Do something as a Vine because it’ll work well as a Vine…not just because you can.

So, how can you use it effectively?

As well as being used to trail wider experiences such as offers or launches, Vines can also serve as little windows allowing you to share a moment or insight that gives your audience a more personal glimpse at you: behind the scenes on a commercial or promo or something fun at the office showing you are the super-cool and fun bunch we know you all are (secretly, some of the time, when you’re not yelling at people).

The best place to start is by checking out what others are doing with Vine and see how you think it could work for your business. I’m a big fan of Lowe’s DIY Vines – short, useful, easy to understand hints and tips produced with a personal sense of fun.  The stop-motion feel reflects the ‘hand-craftedness’ of DIY itself. Great stuff. Bacardi also ticks the useful box with simple, how-to Vines like this one.

And if you do decide to go down the Vine route with your brand, I’m not sure there are really any dos and don’ts just yet. The fun thing about new toys is finding new ways to play with them, so make some new rules don’t follow whatever mine might be. The only things I’d say to try and do are to focus on sharing one idea at a time, but in as interesting a way as possible.

Also, use the uniqueness of the medium – unusual, jarring, juxtaposing images to make your Vine’s ‘pop’ with fun, colour and energy.  In the same way you can do this with visuals, think about using sound in the same way too.  Also, don’t forget that Vine’s loop.  Can you tailor yours so it wraps around on itself in a way that’s clever or funny… like this?

Right, I’m off to do a Vine about it where I explore this article through the medium of dance… look out for it on a viral channel near you very soon.

Rob Crombie is head of video at Sneak.