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If you follow the old adage and believe that a picture is worth a thousand words, then how much must a video be worth? Even a very short video would be worth tens of thousands of words. In the succinct world of social media, where an entire message needs to be communicated in just a few seconds, the communication power of video can’t be denied.

This is where micro-videos come in, and Twitter has jumped in to provide the social media community with a creative option. Twitter’s Vine service offers 6-second videos (while Facebook has cast its lot with Instagram’s 15-second video format). To see how these tiny videos are making a big splash in social circles, we spoke with three brands who have been using Vine to promote their work.

Why Use Vine’s Micro-Videos to Get the Message Across?

Keith and The Girl on Twitter

“The average attention span of an American adult is seven seconds,” explains Laura Spaventa, PR Manager with Vocus. “A Vine video is six seconds, so it gives you just enough time to grab someone’s attention and get your message across before that person loses interest. There’s so much noise and competition in today’s social media landscape, so why not drown out that noise with something creative and different?”

Vine’s extra short length — less than half the length of Instagram’s videos — is reminiscent of Twitter’s own 140-character limits. It forces video makers to be creative with their messaging since they have to communicate a lot with a little.

“For us, it was really welcome technology,” says Trupanion Social Media Manager Stacy Kowalchuk. The pet insurance firm has a pet-friendly workplace — and animals are always great fodder for social sharing. “We’ve always had pictures of what’s going on in the office, but we’ve never been able to show live action of what’s been going on.”

A new social network to figure out isn’t necessarily welcome to everyone, though. Chemda, with the Keith and The Girl comedy talk show, explains discovering Vine with trepidation. “As a company, it means more work on our end. Whether that means learning the new buttons, creating the presence, or promoting for followers,” Chemda tells us. “Vine clicked with me automatically though. As soon as I got the app, I felt like I knew what I was doing. There was a really small learning curve.”

The simplicity of the platform is definitely an advantage for time-pressed marketers. Videos can be shot in just a few seconds using only your smartphone — and even videos that require some planning and setup can be put together within 20 minutes. That may seem a long time for those used to quick text messages on Twitter or Facebook, but the time you’re spending can pay off in improved impact.

Integrating Vine Into Your Social Strategy

Vocus time is running out

Since adopting the platform, Keith and The Girl has used Vine videos to introduce guests on the daily show, and the podcast has gotten great feedback on its video efforts. “Vine makes the introduction more interesting,” Chemda explains. “It does the job of not only giving the information that we’re trying to relay but it adds personality to it. People are more likely to click on the video and learn, quickly, about who is going to be on the show.”

Keith and The Girl also uses Vine to keep fans up to date on what hosts Keith and Chemda are up to. For example, a recent set of Vines showed Keith’s and Chemda’s differing methods of getting coffee while on vacation. In six seconds, these videos communicate a lot, giving fans old and new a feel for the identity of the show’s hosts and the sort of content to expect on the podcast.

At Vocus, Spaventa is constantly trying to come up with creative ways to promote things — and Vine’s been a natural fit. “We had two days to promote a Guy Kawasaki webinar, so obviously time was running out for people to register,” she tells us. “It clicked to me that ‘time’s ticking’ so I thought it would be different, interesting, to create a Vine featuring different watches of my colleagues. This was also a great way to get other people in our company involved with social. That not only helps colleagues further connect with our brand, but they also will usually share or retweet the video with their social audiences. This helps us get our message out to a wider audience than we would have by just sharing on our company’s social platforms.”

Why Vine Instead of Instagram?

Twitter on tablet

Everyone we spoke with had great things to say about Vine, but none of them are using Instagram’s video feature regularly. You might think that Instagram’s longer videos — it’s no coincidence that Instagram’s 15-second length matches nicely with short television commercials — would be an advantage. However, the brevity of Vine — and the creative decisions that brevity forces you to make — is a big part of its appeal.

“if you only have six or seven seconds of footage,” Kowalchuk says, “you have to figure out something to fill out the rest of the time. I was just filming one of the dogs here who was talking, howling, and it only took five or six seconds.” When you don’t expect your viewer’s attention span to be longer than the 6-second length of a Vine, doubling that length can certainly be a hurdle.

“Vine is a different and creative way to engage with our audience, rather than just tweeting out a link to a blog post,” Spaventa tells us. “Right now, we have more followers on Vine than we do Instagram and I think that speaks to the value and creativity we’ve been able to showcase through Vine.”

And for Chemda, who was reluctant to jump on board with a new social network? “Vine is too fun not to keep using,” she says. That said, Instagram Video is gaining steam — and the backing of Facebook doesn’t hurt — so you should keep an eye on both.

[Image credits: Vine, Keith and The Girl, Vocus Official GDC]