Vine logoA little over a year ago, Twitter launched the short-form video app Vine. Since then this six-second video platform has taken the world by storm, sparking a flurry of imitators and inventing a whole new creative medium.

Vine is unique, and it’s great fun. It encourages its users to be creative within a tight timeframe, and has already demonstrated its worth for a variety of different videos, from hilarious sketches to artistic gems, breaking-news events to promoting brands and products.

In celebration of its anniversary, Vine has put together a selection of some of the most hilarious, innovative and unforgettable Vines produced during its first year, on a new website called A Year on Vine.

Meanwhile here at MWP, we’re going to take a brief look at how Vine has survived its first year, and examine the potential for brands and businesses to utilise this fun, creative tool within their marketing plan for 2014.

The Growth of Vine

Back in October 2012, Twitter’s purchase of a video app that hadn’t even been released left a few people scratching their heads – but it turned out to be a shrewd move. A couple of months after its release in January 2013, it was the most-used video sharing app on the market. By April, it was the most downloaded free app on iOS.

Today, it’s available on three different mobile platforms, iOS, Android and Windows, as well as a desktop site. Vine is now available in twenty languages, and has amassed over 40 million users around the world, including celebrities, the Royal Family and even the President of the United States with a response to little batman for his adventure in San Francisco:

The beauty of Vine lies in its simplicity. Users record video by holding their finger on the screen, cutting between shots by removing and replacing their finger. The limited length of six seconds encourages creativity in a similar way to Twitter’s 140-character limit – which makes them an excellent partnership. Today, it’s estimated that five tweets per second are Vines.

Competition and Problems

Despite its impressive growth, Vine’s first year has had its problems. Firstly, there was a rather embarrassing situation where hardcore porn turned up on the main feed of every user after being accidentally added to the editor’s picks selection. As a result, Vine added a number of content filters, and now has a dedicated team reviewing content to ensure it remains a safe environment.

Vine’s biggest test arrived in June, when Facebook launched a video version on its hugely popular Instagram site. Instagram videos last a roomy fifteen seconds and, unlike Vine, they run once rather than looping endlessly.

The arrival of Instagram on the short-form video scene undoubtedly slowed Vine’s momentum – Facebook-owned Instagram has 150 million users worldwide, though it’s not yet known how many of them use the video function.

Ultimately, the launch of Instagram video only helped the development of Vine, as it quickly launched an improved camera along with a number of new tools including an editing function.

Vine’s Business Potential

At first, many people scoffed at the usefulness of a six-second video for marketing purposes, but as the year progressed an increasing number of brands and businesses have turned to Vine as a way of connecting with their audiences. Vines are a relatively quick and cost-effective way of turning around a marketing campaign, making them a perfect medium for capturing current trends, while their brevity makes them a fun, creative way of engaging with the youthful demographic.

Here are some of the best branded Vines released during Vine’s first year.

Target and Dunkin Donuts targeted the huge audience that turns to Twitter for all things sport by parodying various sporting events with their snacks. Target’s entertaining short Vine was timed with the kick-off of the American Football season in the US.

Dunkin Donuts became the first brand to use Vine for a TV commercial with this amusing reply of a move from a recent game.

Oreo has firmly embraced Vine as a marketing platform, releasing a number of snack-related Vines demonstrating different ways of enjoying Oreos, such as this creative dunk.

Dove has extended its campaign in celebration of women onto Vine’s platform with this short, but heartfelt message.

And Doritos has used Vine to run contests, such as this amusing ‘name that tune’ competition, which ran last Easter.

This small selection highlights just a few of the creative ways brands and businesses have used Vine to connect with their audiences. The main messages here are to think outside of the box and don’t cram too much in – simplicity is the way forward with Vine videos. Do remember to use hashtags so your Vines can be easily found, and encourage sharing. Think of different ways to involve your fans, such as competitions, and turn to current events for inspiration. And, as with all other forms of video marketing, remember that engaging with your audience’s emotions is vital.

The Way Forward for Vine

Vine’s quick rise in popularity doesn’t necessarily guarantee its lasting success, especially with the rise of new video tools such as Snapchat. However, with a corporate parent like Twitter who has very deep pockets and an ambition to develop video advertising, expect it to continue to develop and innovate as it moves through its second year.

Whether it manages to survive and thrive or succumbs to its younger competitors, Vine does give us a glimpse of the future. Until recently, online video meant YouTube. The rise of short-form video such as Vine suggests that the future of online video may be fragmented, as different platforms start to specialise in different video formats.

The overriding message to all brands, businesses and digital marketers is this: now is the time to embrace a variety of different mediums when it comes to online video. Video is a hugely diverse medium and each platform has its strengths and quirks that will appeal to a different audience. If you want to get ahead of your competitors and reach a wider audience, you will need to give various styles a go and see what works best for you.