Vine is growing: some thoughts on the social video app

When Twitter bought Vine in 2012 for a reported $30 million, it left many people scratching their heads. Now that Vine has been monetized, that looks like a major bargain in retrospect.

What is Vine? It’s basically a short-form video sharing service—the videos are only six seconds long, but they loop automatically which can create an interesting effect based on content. Users’ videos are published through Vine’s social network which can obviously be shared on Twitter (Vine’s parent company) as well as Facebook. Vine’s app allows you to browse by users, theme or popular or trending videos. Competing services include Mobli, Cineverse and Viddy—but Vine leads the pack by a mile with more than 200 million active users worldwide.

Brands have increasingly tried to make an impact on the micro video blog service, some with more luck than others. Two I always point to as successful are the American Red Cross and Cleveland Clinic, who have both found ways to make potentially dry educational content compelling, engaging and fun.

The biggest “star” on Vine is King Bach. His real name is Andrew Bachelor and he’s 27 years old with a whopping 15 million person subscriber base. I had the chance to meet him at a panel at NATPE in Miami; he gave this important tip: “The most viral days to upload videos are Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. These are different things we’ve learned from uploading so many videos….I don’t upload on Fridays because the majority of people are going out and enjoying their lives. I’ll upload on a Saturday or on a weekday evening when kids are out of high school and people are out of work.”

King Bach says he has built his audience by being edgy and tackling controversial issues. While many of his Vines are basically slapstick comedy skits, many also deal with racism and police brutality. The controversy sells on social media and in fact helped him land a yet untitled show on the Fox network, where he will play an undercover police officer.

Social media stars are becoming the stars of conventional media; witness the current season of “The Amazing Race” where all the teams are packed with social media icons who have the potential to bring their millions of followers to the small screen on CBS Friday nights. (Producers are lamenting that the social stars aren’t “posting” about their experiences as much as they had hoped, after the fact).

Product placement can work effectively on Vine, but King Bach recommends being upfront with your audience about sponsorship. He does not think anyone wants to see a brand in their face, that it’s important to make it synonymous with your brand. Coming up with a concept that works in six seconds requires a lot of discipline and creativity, but Vine is no longer a curiosity; it’s a powerful medium. The best way to engage is add the “app” on your smartphone and see where it takes you.

Questions, comments, feedback? I’d love to hear from you