You’re a Vine one to talk

“People say believe half of what you see,
Son, and none of what you hear.
I can’t help bein’ confused
If it’s true please tell me dear?”

So goes the third verse of Marvin Gaye’s I Heard It Through The Grapevine.

And much of that might apply to the froth that has been splattered around the internet in the past few days about Vine, Twitter’s new video capture application. Its central reputational benefit may be that seeing things makes them more believable and interesting than just hearing about them. And everyone’s a bit confused (about what Vine is for, and what its communication value might be). So we want to know if it’s true, dear.

Well, who knows where it might lead? Its six-second clip format is certainly intriguing, and while many observers wonder what you can achieve with such a brief piece of video, they were probably saying the same about the limitations of 140 characters a few short years ago.

But here are a few early pointers about Vine that PR folk might want to bear in mind when considering tinkering with it and using it for communication.

  1. Nudity. Unsurprisingly, given it tends to be the proving ground for many a new communication medium, Vine is apparently stuffed full of porn. So any people you’re trying to reach through it are going to have to wade through a sea of flimsy (or non-existent) pants for a while
  2. Strangeness, like the internet-at-large, there’s a disproportionate amount of video clips of cute cats and the like. If the internet did simply reflect real life then I wouldn’t be able to move for kittens
  3. Apple. Given Apple has strict policies on allowing apps that allow access to graphic sexual content, it’ll be interesting to see if this new medium quickly withers on the, erm, vine
  4. Ingenuity. The six-second format is likely to give rise to some innovative new ways of getting messages across in such a short space of time. Will this change people’s tolerance or appetite for longer video clips? Probably not, but it’s a new string to the bow
  5. Tolerance. Like any communication format, too much of it might become annoying quite quickly. Experts have suggested one video clip for every 10 to 15 tweets might be about right. Perpetual looping and sound could be a blessing or a curse
  6. Limitations. Facebook has already blocked it.
  7. Patience. It’s new, which probably means bugs, which probably means some user frustration
  8. Platforms. There are no current plans to make the app available for Android or Windows phones
  9. Novelty. PR ‘pitches’ via a six-second format are worth real consideration, and could stand out from the crowd for their innovation alone
  10. And finally.. Anyone called Vine, a brand with vine in its name or indeed the entire oenological world has just got a new search conundrum to deal with

Video could well become the new frontier in delivering authentic and compelling content on social networks. It may all seem a bit odd at the moment, but Vine will be well worth watching as it begins to take root.

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