I’ve got to confess two things: 1. I spend a lot of time on Twitter (to be fair, I’m paid to), and 2. I do like a nice, new, easy-to-use toy.

So I’m pretty happy about Vine, the new (free) video-sharing app for iPhone / iPod touch which enables users to share clips up to six seconds in length within Twitter, Facebook and the app community. It launched with a Twitter CEO Dick Costolo posting a video of someone preparing a steak tartare, but here’s the Vine blog telling you more about it.

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What’s the appeal of Vine?

Brevity. What Twitter is for text, Vine is for video. It will serve you tiny bento-esque boxes of crafted – or crazy – content. You have six seconds to inspire, amuse, impress, tell a story. Can you do it with no fancy editing, just the stop/start recording which creates montages on the hoof? Just as we attempt to craft elegant and memorable retweetable tweets, so it will be with video. Oh, the fun we’ll have.

Any down sides?

I agree with the BBC that the looping nature (the video plays over and over) could be irritating: don’t set it to play and leave your desk. We’ll get used to hitting that x button I’m sure, and thankfully the videos open default to mute. The full window it takes you to seems like overkill: maybe they’ll be able to sort an embed window soon.

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Chris Brogan had issues with the fact that it will only work with the ‘back camera’ – that is to say, you can’t easily video yourself, but at least that defect may have some dampening effect on the surely-arriving tide of ‘sexting’ Vines to come. I hate to state the obvious here about inappropriate content but it will be all too easy and tempting to publish. Certainly, the terms don’t seem overly concerned with sexual content. As spambots leap on trending tweets, they may also leap on the categories available in the Vine app – and I don’t even what to *think* about what the spam bots may broadcast. I do hope the lowest common denominator doesn’t spoil this new toy.

How might brands use it?

It’s hard to think of a retail brand which wouldn’t be able to engage and delight with Vine. Small objects of desire can be filmed and tweeted, brands can talk to followers, stunning goals will play over and over, ‘you’ve been framed’ moments endlessly loop, sneak peeps of new products, showrooms, restaurants, quick hellos to fans … I can already see sponsored Vines and celebrity endorsements … it’s going to be FAB.

Video has proved itself to be the most engaging medium, but there is always a problem with length: Vine provides the time- and attention-deficient audiences with ‘video bites’ of content, requiring very little in the way of commitment or effort from the viewer. It’s a huge creative challenge to the producers: six seconds isn’t long to deliver your message. I suspect that Twitter may get crowded with Vines links very quickly: to counter resistance to brand ‘Vines’, the accompanying text is going to have to be very enticing. If you spot good commercial uses in these early days, please post them below. I’ve found some nice examples of different techniques: animation and story telling - and I’ve seen a lot of people’s desks.

How will we measure success?

I’m guessing that the tools which at the moment count engagement and reach will do the same for Vine posts. A sample tool, Sprout Social, has announced its arrival, but not commented on how they might be dealing with any new metrics.

How’s the privacy?

It’s not. Profiles and videos on Vine are public, and anyone on the service can view them. Sharing on Vine itself is mandatory: then you can choose Facebook or Twitter or neither. If you use Vine to create a video and you choose not to share it on Vine itself, the video will be accessible only through the Camera Roll on your device (i.e. no Twitter or Facebook upload possible). Deleting your account doesn’t seem too easy either. Vine FAQs are here.

Will it work?

I managed to get my first Vine tweet up no problems. But then – maybe as word spread – it fell over, and posting to Twitter and Facebook stopped working, or was at least was delayed by hours. That spoilt my fun – but I’m sure it’s only temporary. I was asked by mycustomer.com if I thought this app was here to stay? If they can control the inevitable tide of smut (how?), then I’m sure of it.

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