Vine – What The Heck Is It?

“You should totally do a Vine for that.”

“Did you see what Adam Goldberg is doing with Vine?”

“Taco Bell just announced a new taco on Vine… how cool!?!”

Vine is the newest word in the social media arena, but what the heck is it? 

Vine logoSo, what’s Vine?

Vine is the newest product from Twitter. As Twitter provides a limitation on text (140 characters), Vine is doing the same for video, allowing you to film asynchronous, six-second looping videos from your phone. In its introductory post, Dom Hofmann, co-founder and GM, describes it like this:

Posts on Vine are about abbreviation – the shortened form of something larger. They’re little windows into the people, settings, ideas and objects that make up your life. They’re quirky, and we think that’s part of what makes them so special.

In just over a month since its release, Vine has become the most talked about social media and iPhone app this year. A lot of the initial talk was about the unfortunate opening weekend mistake of porn being featured in the Editor’s Pick section. At a meeting a couple weeks ago, I was discussing Vine with the presenter and another attendee immediately chimed in to ask, “But doesn’t that have porn? I don’t want to recommend it to my clients if they’ll be mixed up in that?” While this was, in my opinion, an overblown situation that Twitter and Vine quickly took steps to avoid happening again, porn is an attention-getter and will scare some small businesses away from the service. Their loss, because quick, easy, buzz-worthy videos are the best things that can happen to many small businesses and with a little bit of thought and creativity, Vine is the perfect app for such a thing.

That’s Great, But What Can I Use It For?

Anything your heart desires (and fits in six seconds). Here are some areas where Vine users are already creating something great:

Animation and Art – six seconds of start/stop looping video is the perfect venue for artists and animators to lead innovation. Favorite picks: A different way to color, Pac-Man comes to life, Dying for a coffee, Let’s play a love game.

Non-Profits – Non-profits are generally on shoe-string budgets but any employee with an iPhone can make a quick, easily shareable promo video for your organization. The New York Humane Society used Vine to feature an adoptable cat and found him a new forever home.

Job Hunters – Dawn Siff beat everyone to the punch by creating the first Vine Resume. If you’re in a creative or social media field, this can definitely be a tactic to help you stand out and get companies to check out the rest of your credentials and experience.

How-To Videos – A vine can be a great addition to a How-To post, adding another type of visual or showing detail for a particularly complicated step. I made one this weekend as I prepared my French Toast Strata for a brunch and even included a link to the recipe in my video description. Another pick: #howto paint a tropical sunset.

Filmmakers – Adam Goldberg (or as my husband calls him, “Crazy Eddie from Friends“) has been using Vine to make a series of mini, Lynchian horror films about him, his girlfriend, her roommate…and a blonde wig.

What’s the Downside?

Vine is a new app, so, by design, it’s simple and feature-lite at the moment. Future features are just speculation at the moment, but here are some limitations that are making Vine less than ideal right now.

Hardware – Right now, Vine is only available for iPhone and iPod Touch (although, you can run the app on your iPad, too). Android or Windows Phone? Sorry, you’ve got to wait.

Editing – You can’t. If you film for five seconds instead of four and miss that key moment, you can’t go back and cut a second or two out. This is one aspect that’s making it less useful for journalism than initially hoped.

Limited Searchability – Vine exists almost entirely within its app at the moment. Each video creates a web link, but when you go to the video page, you can’t click on the user to see their other vines or click on hashtags to find other related videos.

The Verdict

While Vine isn’t a perfect product right now (what first version ever is?), if you can think up a clever, creative reason to make a vine for your organization or business, go for it. The fact that it’s not a stand alone social media service actually works in your favor right now; you don’t have to spend time developing a community there… just film and post, then share on the communities you’ve (hopefully) built elsewhere.

More information

Mashable provides a good video on how to create stunning Vine videos (with a bonus slideshow on creating for beginners).

MediaBistro talks about possible business uses for Vine.

Jeff Bullas provides 6 tips for using Vine in marketing.

By Crystal Coleman

Florida girl living on the west coast. During the day, I consult in social media and community management. I have a really cute puppy (Elphaba) and a British husband (I keep him for his accent) as well as an unhealthy relationship with parentheses.

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