Shane BarnhillMonday,28 January 2013

The Snap:

A few days ago, Twitter released Vine, an app for splicing together and sharing short video clips. Vine enters a crowded space alongside competitors such as Cinemagram and Viddy, which vie to become the “Instagram of video.” The release comes just over three months after Twitter “acqhired” the Vine team. For now, Vine is available for iOS only, but has seen a surge in popularity, rising to the top position among social apps in Apple’s app store.

But does Vine have staying power?

The Download:

First things first: Let’s all stop calling Vine an “Instagram for Video” app. Right now. Because while tech journalists love using this catch-all term to lump Vine in with other apps that stylize video clips, Vine’s focus is very different. While it’s true that Vine — like Instagram — is a visually-focused communication platform, the app doesn’t rely on trite filters for mood-setting. Instead, Vine targets the sweet spot of brevity (much like, ahem, Twitter) and simplicity. It’s awfully hard for users to screw up videos in six seconds or less, unlike the debacles that can happen on YouTube.

Anyway, the compressed timeframe for Vine videos may just take enough pressure off of content producers so that they feel comfortable generating videos more often. I have already spoken with several social media managers who have expressed this view, and none of them relayed the same sense of relief when Viddy and Socialcam (the two most well-known “Instagrams for video”) were released.

The next myth to bust is Vine’s supposed porn problem.

Nick Bilton of The New York Times and others have been quick to point out that exhibitionist masturbators are part the early-adopter set that has embraced Vine. However, any comparisons to Chatroulette — the notorious roulette wheel of porn — are off base, mainly because Vine doesn’t serve up a haphazard feed of videos. You choose who to follow on Vine, just as you do on networks such as Facebook and Twitter. If you opt to follow a bunch of randoms, then chances are that a cock-tugger or two may show up in your feed. But that’s unlikely. So, if you’re finding porn in Vine, then it means that you’ve gone looking for it. As Joshua Topolsky of The Verge writes, “The truth is that Vine doesn’t have a problem with porn, at least not one that isn’t shared by any other social media app.” And besides, Vine has a button for reporting inappropriate content. So, nothing to see here. No bigs. (Update: it looks like some NSFW content has slipped into the “Editor’s picks” section of Vine, but at least there is a warning message before the video begins.)

Now that we’ve gotten past Vine’s non-issue with porn and non-Instagram status, the question remains: Will brands embrace it? While some smart assessments of Vine’s chances have already been written by Stephanie Schwab (here) and Matt Whiting (here) — and you should read both of them — I want to add one more point on top of their insights: Vine isn’t built on top of an unowned platform. Unlike apps such as Voxer (which had its access to friend data from Facebook removed), Vine isn’t beholden to a competitor’s data for its virality (Sorry, I hate that term, too). While Facebook has already blocked Vine users from finding their Facebook friends within the app, Vine still has permanent access to Twitter’s enormous user base. In that way, Vine is certain to avoid running afoul of revised terms of service and collapsing overnight.

And so, it’s likely that Vine — or, at least its functionality — isn’t going anywhere. Given its fast start, new creative format, and integration with Twitter, I think Vine has a much stronger chance than other photo/video apps at gaining traction with brands. However, over the long term, don’t be surprised if Vine fades away as a standalone app and just becomes one of Twitter’s many features (the same can probably be said for Instagram as part of Facebook). And other now-independent content formats are sure to follow, such as those for longer-form debates (like Branch) and polling (like GoPollGo). As Twitter continues to grow and compete with global competitors such as Sina Weibo for the title of “the pulse of the planet,” it will need to diversify its communication formats.

Do you think Vine will see strong adoption from brands after early adopters have given it a look? Provide your thoughts in our GoPollGo poll, or leave a comment below. Oh, and check out the best Vine that I’ve seen so far (it’s slightly NSFWish).

Hat Tips:

The Verge, Stephanie Schwab, Matt Whiting, Mike Monteiro, Image Credit: Flickr

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