Vine, the next branch in the evolution of social

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Every once in a while there comes along an app, it doesn’t get introduced with fanfare and pushy content marketing, in fact in the case of this one you only got to hear about it through a blog post link you saw on Twitter via the “Director of Twitter in the UK” (@brucedaisley). For someone so closely tied to Twitter he doesn’t really have an awful lot of followers – no slight on him, I follow him & find him incredibly engaging – so the reach of this blog post dwindles somewhat. I don’t know how people heard about it elsewhere on this social media hungry planet, but his post last Thursday was the first I had heard of Vine and, upon doing a date range search on Google, it seems that the 24th January 2013 was the first most people had heard of it.

I’m a sucker for an app where you can show off your artistic ‘skills’, the kind of person a professional photographer dislikes, because I go around thinking that by taking a picture of a railing and sticking a filter on it counts as ‘art’. I started out with Hipstamatic, then Snapseed and 12 months ago; Instagram (I won’t mention the Laser Cats or Mr Chiizu aps I have). Vine goes one step further, create a 6 second (or less) video of the world around you, it can be continuous or you can film something different in every frame – brilliant for stop motion style filming.


Co-founder & GM of Vine, Dom Hofmann (@dhof), recently coined the phrase ‘micro-vlogging’ with feigned embarrassment, but that’s exactly what it is. You can pause and record as many times as is physically possible in a 6 second loop, meaning you can document a whole day, or more, in less time than it takes to write a Tweet.

It is little wonder that Vine has taken off, simple to use and full integration with Twitter (they bought out Vine for an undisclosed sum) means it’s easy to set up. There’s no news on initial sign up figures but with Twitter’s 200m+ active users it won’t be long before they dominate the social sphere, although I’m puzzled as to why the main demographic of users that have started following me seem to be Russian males in the 20-29 age bracket…

It seems that businesses have taken to Vine a lot quicker than other social platforms such as Pinterest, with the app being launched perfectly in time for the upcoming A/W 13 Fashion Weeks. Brands such as Malibu, Gap and ASOS adopted it from the outset and have taken full advantage of the free video advertising opportunity that the software provides. If brands get their videos right, these ‘mini films’ have the potential to go viral in minutes. However, the possibility of getting it wrong and failing to post engaging content is high, and may need more than just the usual social media manager to monitor and update the profile.

Vine’s short history hasn’t been free of hiccups either, with Apple stopping promotion of the app earlier this week due to a (large) number of porn videos being uploaded, along with profiles to match. Not great if your app is only available on the iPhone and iPod Touch. Apparently an Android version will be made available but there’s no date for that as yet. Twitter’s on-going feud with Facebook has further caused problems with users not being able to add friends via the ‘find people’ section.

From a technical standpoint, the app could really do with an option to record without sound, to further mimic the share-ability of a GIF (and also not to have horrible background noise when recording a stop motion). Finally, if you choose not to post your Vine to Twitter or Facebook from the outset, it is rendered socially unshareable once you click the ‘done’ button. I’m perplexed by this, given that Instagram allows you to share other people’s pictures as well as your own after the time it was posted. Vine could do with following suit.

Teething problems aside, Vine has stood out to me as a strong new social app and although in its infancy, it has the potential to outcompete older competitors such as Viddy and Tout in what I predict to be the fastest growing social platform this year. Not bad for an app developed by a 3 man start-up that formed in June 2012.