Using Vine to get your audience’s attention

May 30, 2013

Interested in reaching Millennials? I’m a Millennial and I will be so bold as to speak for my peers:  we are video-driven. If you want to reach and engage us, videos need to be part of your toolbox.

Getting those ever-elusive Millennials like me to sit still and watch your video, though, is a whole ‘nother task. The solution? Meet people where they are. That’s the idea behind Vine, a recently launched video app for iPhones and iPod touches. Vine videos automatically play in tweets…and, believe you me, young people are on Twitter (in no small part due to the fact that many of us are fleeing the very public Facebook for the more private Twitter). Make use of the time people are already spending scanning Twitter and grab your audience with audio and motion on a silent, motionless screen.

The app’s layout is similar to Instagram, but instead of pictures, users upload six second looping videos. That’s right: six seconds. It sounds way too short to make an impression, but its brevity is precisely what makes it a great tool for nonprofits to connect with a new audience. Vine videos grab attention on mobile screens in a way that thumbnail still pictures can’t.

PBS used Vine to promote their Memorial Day celebrations this year. It’s a lot easier to show excitement through a video than trying to tell your audience to be excited in a written description. The ZSL London Zoo made video of some penguins. It’s important to show your audience what they’re supporting, what your organization is trying to protect. For penguin lovers, what’s more motivating than a video clip of some cute penguins? Look for opportunities to snatch a Vine the next time you’re out in the field.

Another important function of Vine is its ability to bring big names down to the human level. Watch NBA star Stephen Curry take his baby daughter for a bike ride. Don’t just be a name; let supporters inside your organization and show them the people behind the conservation efforts. A minute long clip of Curry’s bike ride would get boring, but for six seconds, it’s an adorable look into his family life. With Vine, there’s no room to bore your audience. That being said, some Vines are more effective than others. Here are some helpful tips for creating Vines:

  1. Keep it casual—Vine videos are meant to be unpolished. Younger viewers don’t see informality as unprofessional, they see it as authentic.
  2. Keep it positive—Social network users like to share things that are upbeat, funny, and/or beautiful; something that will make their friends smile.
  3. Use at least three cuts—The app walks you through a short filming tutorial the first time you use it. Pay attention to their advice to film more than one scene or angle; the app will stitch it together for you once you’ve filmed six seconds worth of material.
  4. Experiment with stop motion—it is all the rage; capitalize on this trend. Making a six second version is an unintimidating way to do a trial run of the stop motion craze.
  5. Keep it focused—have fun cutting clips and experimenting, but make sure you’re sending a single, clear message to your audience. Six seconds may not be enough time to get bored, but it is enough time to get confused. Give your audience a tiny, tantalizing taste that leads them to the next click.

Need more inspiration? Here are 21 ideas for Vine videos nonprofits can use to communicate their causes.

Remember, though Vine is owned by Twitter, your Vine profile is separate from your Twitter profile. Savvy users maximize exposure by sharing Vines on Twitter and Facebook: one upload and you’re done! (Check out Resource Media’s Twitter tips for ideas on how to build your Twitter presence.)

Right now, Vine is wide-open. When I checked on May 28th, the trending hashtags included #school, #finals, #nosleep, #netflix, and #with. Savvy organizations will tie their videos to trending topics, and use hashtags with built-in audiences. Vine is still in its building stage; take advantage of this opportunity to connect with potential supporters on the cutting edge!

–Avery Haller, Project Specialist