Years ago, Loic Le Meur had a startup called Seesmic that looks very different from the Seesmic that it eventually became. Originally Seesmic was the Twitter for video. Shoot a quick, little video, and follow those you’re interested in. Timing and marketing is key to a startup’s success, and while Le Meur continues to do innovative things, the original concept for Seesmic never took hold. With 140 characters, you know what you’re getting. A quick link to a video doesn’t offer much teasing towards what you’re about to get yourself into and the way Seesmic was structured made it incredibly hard to figure out what to watch and who to follow. The idea never died, it simply morphed.
When Twitter bought Vine in 2012, it was received with the same quizzical looks as those delivered when Twitter first came on the market. Shooting a quick six second video and sharing it? What’s the point? If you’re still asking those sets of questions, head over to Vine and check out what some of the top Viners are doing. As a senior-level marketing professional at a major consumer packaged goods asked me the other day, "why aren’t brands all over this?" This individual isn’t the only smart person asking the right questions. Just this week, Gary Vaynerchuk announced the launch of a talent agency that will focus on developing and nurturing these newly developed Viners (I bet Gary wishes that these people were called Vayners ;). On top of that, Facebook‘s Instagram launched their short(er) form video platform to compete with Vine. This one allows you to shoot for a whole fifteen seconds. Instagram founder, Kevin Systrom, explained it like this: "It’s everything we know and love about Instagram, but it moves."
The shorter the attention span.
As Twitter developed, the intelligentsia was pushing hard that this form of 140 characters of communications is furthering the dumbing down of our society. Well, now you don’t even have to snap a photo and explain it or figure out the few characters to express yourself. Now, just shoot a video. Whether it’s Twitter, Seesmic, Vine or Instagram, these tiny things tend to be scoffed at, admonished and then, ultimately adopted as core to a businesses success. What most people don’t see is this: these are new forms of communications and expressions. Yes, we could have done them before, but not with these confines and constrictions. It is these confines and constrictions that seem to make it interesting to the smaller group at first. This crew gets creative, inventive and ingenious with these newer channels and that’s when the heads begin to turn.
Don’t be a luddite (hat-tip to Nilofer Merchant).
It’s free, cheap and easy to hop over, grab the apps, play around and see what others are doing. If you see nothing interesting, you may be looking at the wrong people. For my dollar, Twitter has shown me the genius of what can be done in short form text. Some people (like Jon Stewart) may joke about how Instagram’s filters make crappy mobile photos worse, but I know many people (myself included) who have suddenly started taking and sharing that many more pictures as a part of their media creation diet. Watching some of the creative videos being shot on Vine will give you hope that newer forms of filming have been developed (and ones that are also highly creative). Who knows what tricks and hacks people will invent to do the same thing with Instagram’s new video service? So, before you dismiss it, shrug your shoulders and wonder why anybody would care, spend some time with the people who are spending a lot of time in these places and better understand who they are, why they’re doing it and if there’s something interesting for your brand to be a part of?
Ask better questions.
Who knows if Vine or Instagram will win this short-form social sharing video war? We just need to be asking better questions. For every "who cares?" or "why does this matter to my brand?," it may be wiser to ask, "who is using this?" and "are they doing anything interesting with it?". Tethering those questions to your business strategy and looking for synergy may be a quicker way to think about how real-time communications coupled with contextual marketing in this social era could drive your marketing into new, more interesting and powerful areas. The ones where an impression may actually have a more substantive value along with creating something that people may actually want to talk about.
Could be interesting… right?