Toy or Tool: Vine

What is it? Vine has been described as the “Instagram of video.” A new mobile app from Twitter (launched at the end of January), it enables users to post six-second videos to the web. The videos loop continuously and can be embedded directly into tweets or viewed on separate webpages (like Vinepeek). A viewer can either watch videos selected by an editor of one of these sites or follow other users to gain access to all their Vine videos. Twitter, which made pithiness (140 characters) a trend, is now doing the same for video content.

What’s the value? Because Vine is so new, its long-term business value has yet to be proven. We seem to be evolving into a society where small is the new big, and viewers’ attention spans are shrinking, so the 6-second video is a natural evolution of the web video trend. This year, web video content is expected to comprise 90% of online content, according to Hubspot. Big brands are starting to “jump on the Vine,” as they did with the Pinterest trend and have the resources and creativity to dabble with it in some brilliant and engaging ways. Here are some great examples. Web videos can also be used by small business to thank, to educate, to entertain, to promote, to engage, and to inspire. Short videos can do the same thing…just in less time.

What’s the downside?  Vine is currently un-moderated, so your business video may wind up in a stream with irrelevant (or irreverent) content. In fact, Vine had to tighten-up its policies soon after its launch because porn had begun to creep into the Vine at alarming rates. As with many other new media forms, Vine required a natural aptitude for creating engaging content and building the right following. Shooting Vine videos can be complex for solopreneurs. (You may need to invest in a Vine tripod if you plan to shoot yourself.) Unless you want your efforts to “die on the Vine,” you should think through your communications strategy before getting into the 6-second video business.