Vine, Snapchat and the Economy of Narrative Opportunity

I’ve been thinking a little bit about video, via Snapchat, Facebook’s updated Poke app and Twitter’s new Vine service. If you’re unaware, these apps allow you to film and post very short videos. My daughter and her friends are constantly mugging for each other via Snapchat.

The key is brevity. Where Twitter’s enforced 140-character limit has trained us to be economical and effective, we can expect the same discipline via these ultra-short videos. Chris Brogan was early to throw out some ideas about Vine. And our own Chris Penn sent out what may be the first-ever 6-second webinar.

Certainly brands should be considering how to leverage these services. But I would caution them to continue to think outside the 6-second window. I can readily imagine a serialized round of 6-second “chapters” (linked via searchable hashtags), e.g., if you were giving a walk-through of a new car, the first 6-seconds might highlight the exterior; the next 6-seconds might look at the interior; the next chapter focuses on the engine; the next shows “how fast we can get this sucker moving in 6-seconds,” with the camera trained on the speedometer. Etc.

The serialization-via-hashtag allows the consumer to watch only those snippets of interest. Same approach would work for various types of product demos, how-to guides, and so on.

The winners in this next stage of marketing will embrace the economy of narrative. The earliest winners will be the ones who can be most effective and comical, with low production value. My guess is that that first class will also impress us in terms of volume. Lots of vinelets (is that a word, yet?), all of the time. The next wave of winners will power-pack those 5+ seconds of video with higher production values and animation.

What’s your 6-second video plan?

Posted on: January 28, 2013 at 11:42 am By Todd Defren
15 Responses to “Vine, Snapchat and the Economy of Narrative Opportunity”


  • Katie Depriest says:

    Vine, Snapchat and the Economy of Narrative Opportunity

    The idea that this upcoming generation has become so fast paced that the average teens attention span is 6 seconds is concerning. Yes, it is great job training for future public relations professionals to be able to say as much as possible in 270 characters, but when is short too short? In the blog post, you mention the situation of car commercials being 6-second snapshots of different parts of the automobile. I think video is an amazing tool, but the cold hard facts about the car are what the public needs to know, whether they want to hear it or not. I am glad that you would encourage companies to not always stick to ideas based off of Snapchat and Vine. Companies don’t need to sell themselves short just because society has a need for quick progression.

  • Amber says:

    In order to get most out of vine and get your message across, you need to be creative. Just like the 140 character in Twitter.

  • I’m a big fan of these concise apps and brief marketing messages in general.I think it takes to much effort for companies to get a good video that 6 seconds doesn’t make it worth it.

  • Alyssa E says:

    I am a student studying Social Media Theory & Practice with @dr4ward at @NewhouseSU,and I subscribe to this blog.

    I think that Vine is a fad and will be over in a few month as most social media fads come and go. However, I think Vine is a great opportunity to show a ‘preview’ for whatever advertisers are trying to advertise and offer the option for consumers to follow up on other social media sites! 6 seconds could be all it takes! #NewhouseSM4

  • I think this new feature has great possibilities if it can last. So many social media outlets become obsolete quickly because the next big thing comes out and everyone moves on. Having such a small amount of time will force creativity and make businesses think outside of the box if they are going to use this new platform effectively. It will be interesting to see how long Vine will last. I see it being a great tool for companies to use for advertising purposes if it can stand the test of time, which can be very short in the world of social media.

    Gillian Richard
    Platform Magazine Editor

  • I think this is going to end up a fad and fall by the wayside like so many others. It takes to much effort for companies to get a good video that 6 seconds doesn’t make it worth it. And since some of the first videos that were posted were porn anyway, there’s too much possibility for it to be used for negative intentions.

  • Nahida meah says:

    The time limit makes it all the more interesting. Businesses can use these apps to show a sneak peek of products or services, this can then draw the audiences attention to their website where they can get the bigger picture.

  • Alex katzen says:

    Great article. I’m a big fan of these concise apps and brief marketing messages in general. I don’t think 6 seconds of video is too short at all. Less is more and it leaves the viewers wanting more. Of course, that’s a lot easier said then done!

  • You would think a 6-second video would only take 6 seconds to film, but it took us at least 20 tries to get it right :)

    We worked with our Creative Services team at Cision to think of a ‘series’ we could record on Vine, and decided on PR Dos & Don’ts. We hope it to be one part humorous, one part educational.

    It will be interesting to see how brands decide to tell their story on the platform, and we look forward to further develop and grow ours over time.

    The ‘chapters’ idea is a sound one and a creative work-around to the time constraint. Blogger Gigi Ross also had some great ideas: Demos/Tutorials, Sponsored Brand Campaigns, PR Pitches, Conference Sneak Peeks, Cause-Building and Mini-Series. She goes into more detail here:

    Here’s Cision’s first Vine video. Not too bad for the 4897028402th take? :)

    Lisa Larranaga
    Cision NA
    Social Media Manager

  • Shwinn says:

    George Louis, one of the most brilliant creatives in modern history, said if you can’t explain something in three sentences or less, it’s not a big idea. Being forced into a tight space, drives innovation. Constraints are what set us free!

  • David Jacobs says:

    When you’re already coming up with creative solutions to get around the 6 second limit you’ve got trouble. Lets just admit that 6 seconds is too short. I imagine it was an arbitrary number anyway.

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