First off, let's be clear: If a brand is on Vine, it's already a step ahead of the competition. So by no means should any marketers feel discouraged if, at the end of this article, they realize they've committed a faux pas or two with the video-sharing tool. It happens. Not every post is going to be an on-brand work of art.
But, that said, the six-second video-sharing tool has been around long enough for us to start getting a sense of its best uses -- along with its worst abuses. And with similar opportunities springing up elsewhere -- specifically the launch of Instagram into the short-form video space -- it's time for brands to be clear on the dos and don'ts that come along with this unique opportunity.
In this article, we'll show some examples of the don'ts. But again: Don't judge these brands too harshly. Many of the companies present in this article are likely to also turn up in articles pointing to the best uses of Vine in marketing. You win some, you lose some. The point is that you keep trying.
As with any marketing medium, one of the worst offenses you can commit on Vine is to be boring. This happens often with new platforms simply because brands get so excited -- soooooo excited -- to dive in and start experimenting that they don't put enough thought into the actual results of their efforts. "Six seconds of watching paint peel? Who cares? We're on Vine. Whoooooooo!"
The offender: USA Today
Big props to the publisher for diving into Vine headfirst. But it's time to show some restraint, as evidenced by the below Vine. The intention was good: "Let's give a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the editorial process!" But you know what it ends up looking like? A bunch of people sitting in a meeting. That's it. Most of us have to endure enough conference room monotony of our own. Please don't subject us to yours as well, USA Today.
The publisher should stick to its unique concept of teasing the day's news via a quick scan of the headlines, as seen below. Some of the executions are a bit rough, but it is a clever way to tease out the day's content in a way that might ensnare some readers who are taking a spin through their morning Twitter feeds.
The offender: Trident Gum
OK, so you're a gum brand. Your videos will likely involve people chewing gum. But there's really nothing -- nothing -- interesting about a person unwrapping a piece of gum and shoving it in his mouth. It's boring. The end.
That said, I can give Trident Gum grief because I know the brand knows better. That is obvious from almost all of the rest of its Vines, which at least explore unique ways of getting that gum into the person's mouth:
A lot of people and brands forget that Vines record sound while they record video. And given that the interface doesn't allow for any fancy editing, you're pretty much stuck with the background noise that occurs when you press "record." That can be problematic for videos with lots of fast cuts and stop-motion elements. In those cases, the safest route to go is to simply try to keep things silent while shooting. However, if the whole point of your video relates to music or accompanying sound, you'd better figure out how to handle that hurdle.
The offender: General Electric
Econsultancy called General Electric out on this sin first. (And we don't have to feel bad about it because, overall, General Electric is one of the best brands on Vine, hands down. So it gets to have the occasional miss.) But, if you turn on the sound on the below Vine (sound is disabled on Vines by default), you'll see why this execution just didn't work:
If you're going to post a Harlem Shake Vine, the Harlem Shake song really needs to be a part of it. But given the stop-motion effect on this Vine, it just wasn't possible. It would have been best to go with standard online video for this concept, which would have allowed for proper sound editing. Otherwise -- skip it altogether.
The offender: Malibu Rum
Malibu Rum used Vine to promote Malibu Play, a monthly music mix created by guest DJs. Unfortunately, the audio heard in the Vine is fragmented, awkward, and jarring -- certainly not what you would expect from a playlist touted as "audio goodness to keep you and your friends smiling all night long."
But the sound on this Vine isn't the only misstep the brand made. You can easily argue that it also commits the aforementioned sin of being boring.
Using video when an image would suffice
I know, I know. You're having fun making Vines. You want to make them for everything. The problem is, not everything is Vine-worthy. Sometimes an image will do just fine. And in many cases, an image would be preferable. This is especially the case when a decent amount of reading is involved.
The offender: Wheat Thins
The below Vine just doesn't need to be a Vine. It is, essentially, a print ad being shuffled into view. It forces the viewer to speed-read that ad and then provides no additional pay-off.
If Wheat Thins wanted to illustrate these cracker-theft testimonials in some way, it should have done just that. A short snippet of a devious toddler? Vine-grown gold. But the text-only treatment just doesn't deliver. To boot, there's some random noise happening in the background (if you turn the sound on, of course) that is just loud enough to make you wonder whether you're supposed to be hearing something important. (But you're not -- double fail.)
Cramming too much in
Everyone's definition of "too much" is different. But here's a rule of thumb: If you require a motion-sickness bag after watching a Vine more than twice, it's too much.
The offender: American Apparel
At first watch, the below Vine might not seem too bad. But let it play more than once, and you'll start to go cross-eyed. Within the span of six seconds, the video cuts at least 16 times. In itself, that might be OK. Except that each of those 16 snippets has a little bit of unnecessary movement in it, the result of which is an uncomfortable viewing experience.
The offender: NASCAR
Econsultancy named NASCAR as another Vine offender based on the "too much" principle. And indeed, a dose of Dramamine is required to make it through more than two plays of the below video.
In conclusion, brands shouldn't expect that every Vine they produce will be mini-Oscar worthy. But if they avoid the above missteps, they'll be putting themselves in the top 1 percent of today's Vine producers in terms of quality.