Six seconds. That's all it takes for a video to leave a lasting impression. Such is the idea behind Vine, a fast-growing mobile app from Twitter that allows you to create short video clips. The platform is easy to use -- touch your phone's screen to record, lift your finger to stop and freely resume recording as often as you want. You can post videos, or "vines," directly to Facebook, YouTube and, of course, Twitter.
Over 13 million iPhone users have already experimented with Vine since its January launch. Last week, it was rolled out to Android users, a milestone that incited Twitter founder Jack Dorsey to climb to the top of San Francisco's Bay Bridge in celebration. As a reward for waiting, Android users are offered exclusive features like the ability to zoom in while recording and improved offline browsing.
Brands are beginning to experiment with the platform to showcase their products and connect with customers on social media. "By definition, you only have six seconds. That limitation allows brands to better justify the lower-production-value video that has been available for years, but not necessarily embraced," says Dave Kerpen, chairman of social media marketing firm Likeable Media. "Have fun, be creative, and don't be sales-y."
For inspiration, here are three "viners" to follow as examples of effective branding:
1. For stop-motion movies: Khoa
Khoa Phan, with nearly 40,000 followers, serves as a guide to adding personality to a product in a fun way. The self-described tech geek from San Diego, Calif., runs a vehicle-exporting business and has emerged as the stop-motion master of the platform by making engaging videos that use construction paper in interesting ways. He's already been asked to create 12 vines for Peanuts Worldwide to promote an upcoming 3D-animated feature based on Charles Schulz's comic strip.
Vine's features allow anyone to easily make stop-motion movies, an animation technique that makes items appear to move on their own like a running flipbook. Kerpen says companies that sell products can use the technique to make their brand more personable. "It's like taking a whole bunch of pictures and putting them together as a video," he says.
2. For infinite loops: Jethro Ames
By creatively combining items found around the house, Ames, the art director of ParkerWhite Brand Interactive, uses Vine's looping feature for humorous storytelling. In an infinite loop, the six-second video continuously repeats, requiring the beginning and end to be similar enough that they blend into each other. Ames has racked up more than 12,000 followers on Vine with loops that portray inanimate objects coming alive, such as flying tea cups and french-fry eating ketchup packets. He is currently producing a series of five infinitely looping vines for The Coffee Bean. Looping tip: To make the transition between a vine's beginning and end nearly invisible, use a mobile tripod to avoid shaky hands.
3. For how-to's: Erica Domesek
If a live demonstration is important to sell your product, try to slim down the presentation to just six seconds. Viners are using the hashtag #howto to share step-by-step processes for projects like cooking and crafting. Design expert and master DIY crafter Domesek, who posts under the username PSimadethis, is a good example to follow. She has used the video platform to show how she makes accessories such as boot tassels and headphone cases.
Gadgets and apps lend themselves especially well to how-to shorts, Kerpen says, since they can be demonstrated with quick, successive screenshots. Remember to keep shots long enough to register each step with the viewer.
Kerpen also suggests following and engaging with other Vine users first -- just as you would with any new social platform. "Before I go out to make an authentic video, I watch vines, comment on vines, like vines, share vines. That positions me as a business to be welcomed by the community."