Vine 101: 10 Ways to Engage Your Customers in 6 Seconds or Less

Less than a year ago, three guys in New York City were working to build the next big thing in social media – a mobile video-sharing app called Vine. Their origin story echoes that of a thousand other start-ups we'll likely never hear about. But fortunately for the Vine guys, their little sprout got a big dose of Miracle-Gro when Twitter bought the start-up before it launched the app. Backed by the juggernaut of Twitter's resources, influence and platform, Vine reached the top spot in the free apps section of Apple’s App Store within just a few months of launch. Beyond this fast take-off and the Twitter fire-power that fueled it, it's also worth mentioning that Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey is believed to be the driving force behind the acquisition. Dorsey is also the co-founder of highly successful mobile payment service Square, so you might say he's kind of a big deal in the world of tech start-ups. So that’s the story of how in just a few short months this newcomer to the social media scene has taken root and made a name for itself as a viable contender among the more well-established platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). Daunted by the idea of incorporating yet another social media site – with its own set of rules and idiosyncrasies – into your marketing program? Don’t be. Here’s a quick run-down of the basics and some inspirational ideas to help you get started using Vine to connect with your socially-savvy customers:

Getting to know Vine

Integration with Twitter

Even if you have no need or desire to support another social media tool, it's worth embracing Vine as an extension of Twitter. The two apps' tight integration makes Vine a convenient way to tweet video and audio. Vine’s short 6-second-or-less clips complement Twitter's 140-character microblogging format, so the name of the game is just the same: whatever you share, make it quick and compelling.


After using Vine for a few minutes, it will become evident that its development team focused on simplifying the experience of making and sharing videos. Creating a Vine requires little more than pressing the record button in the upper corner (conveniently labeled with a camera icon), touching the screen to start recording and releasing it to stop. Tap the checkmark to keep the video, add a caption and location if desired, then post to Vine, Twitter or Facebook. That's it. Concept, creation and publication in less than 30 seconds.

Big creativity in a small package

Doing more with less can actually push your creativity to yield impressive results. Without the complicated tools of traditional video production – with its expensive cameras, lighting and post-production – Vine both forces and frees users to focus on creativity, distilling ideas down to their purest form to tell a soundbite story.


Vine videos loop automatically. In fact, this feature is so central to the user experience that it's mentioned in the app store's very short description: "See and share beautiful looping videos." With their six-second time limit, Vine videos are often jumpy and hard to process on a first viewing. Looping enables viewers to catch missed details the second or third time around. But many Viners are also using this loop feature in creative ways, making videos in which repetition is central to the concept, like the 1990s cult-hit Groundhog Day.


Now that we’ve covered the basic how-tos, here are 10 ideas for using Vine in your marketing mix. One quick note: to pause any of the Vines below, just click on them.

1. Introduce yourself.

Share a behind the scenes look into your company culture, show off your super-talented staff or give a sneak peek into a special project. A simple wave from everyone will do, or like restaurant VIA, you can make it fun by making faces, or tap into an internet meme like planking as a team.

2. Make a stop-motion movie.

No matter how advanced video technology and special effects have become, stop-motion animation, with its often jittery feel, has captivated generations of children and adults alike. With its simple touch-based recording, Vine is built for stop-motion experimentation. Many of the most popular Vines use this technique, as seen in this gem from Twitter designer Ian Padgham (@origiful).

3. Build brand buzz.

Create a Vine tease to get followers excited about an upcoming event or product launch. Unlike commercials or marketing pieces with their long, resource-intensive production requirements, Vine is an easy way to promote in real-time. Late Night With Jimmy Fallon didn't need six seconds to tease a guest appearance by pop-star Justin Bieber – just a wig and a wink.

4. Introduce something new.

Maybe you can't afford a multi-million-dollar Super Bowl commercial to introduce a new product or service to the world, but hey, you've got Vine, right? Okay, okay. We know it's not the same thing, but even Pepsi, with its enormous marketing budget, turned to Vine to show off the new shape of its bottles. And their effort definitely did not cost millions to make.

5. Poll your peeps.

Want to take the pulse of your followers? Create a Vine that visualizes what you want to measure, and then ask for input in the comments. Comcast wanted to gauge the impact of promoting its SportsNet Twitter account during a hockey game. They owned the copyright for the broadcast, so they just published the clip on Vine. From the looks of things, they probably just recorded it right off the TV screen. Low tech, yes, but it works.

6. Create a moment of zen.

In the frenetic world of social media, a little tranquility is always welcome. Simply giving people a moment of calm among the chaos of the day can earn your brand some positive vibes by association.

7. Try some trivia to drive engagement.

People of all ages and backgrounds love trivia, and many can't resist a good riddle. Verizon mashed together game play, pop music and a feel-good holiday to give followers fun Valentine's Day-themed riddles.

8. Game on!

Like trivia, games are a great way to keep people engaged with your brand. We'll admit this one is a real challenge, but Vine user Brandin6 found a fun way to recreate a popular game from the 80s that gives new meaning to the term "video game."

9. Lure creative people to your team.

Want to find people for your organization that are social media savvy and creative? Vine is a great way to share your company culture in ways that will attract like-minded individuals that will keep that culture going strong. Better yet, hold a contest and have candidates submit Vines about why they want to work for you. It's a much more entertaining way to weed out applicants than giving resumes a ten-second look.

10. Celebrate the holidays (even the silly ones).

Even the most obscure holidays are good opportunities to produce entertaining content, like this geeky Pi Day celebration by our friends at VaynerMedia. The common theme underlying all of these ideas and examples is this: look for any excuse to make a Vine and then be as creative as possible. The Vine community rewards creativity. In fact, it's the driving force that fuels engagement with this new tool on the social media block...Hey, there's another idea: a New Kids on the Block parody. Vine win!