Fresh off the back of the news that Vine is now available for Android users (yes I’m one of the only people at SGM not to have an iPhone) I thought I’d have a closer look at what it’s all about and how it could be used by brands as part of their online marketing strategy.

Vine launched in January this year as part of Twitter. Until yesterday, the app was only available from the App Store but it still managed to amass 13 million users in that time. The long-awaited Android version is currently lacking some of the features but Twitter assure users that these features will be added soon.

So what’s it all about?

Vine is a free app that lets you record 6 second video clips and share them on Twitter and Facebook. The apps allows you to find popular posts, see what’s trending and find friends who are also using Vine. You can either record 6 seconds in one go, or create video from shorter clips or still images, similar to gifs. As soon as Vine launched in January brands got in on the action. Some brands that are active on Vine in 2013 are Bacardi, Urban Outfitters, Gap, Dunkin Donuts, Doritos, Next and Samsung.

Why should marketers use Vine?

Vine gives marketers the opportunity to be creative and produce shareable content quickly and with little, if any, budget. Video technology company, Unruly, researched Vine for its 100-day birthday and found that only a very small proportion of Vines are created by brands. They also discovered that Vines are 4 times more likely to be shared than standard branded online video. Additionally, Vine gives brands the chance to create 6 second adverts.

Creating Vines could be a chance to build awareness of your brand without spending hours making lengthy YouTube videos. Vine is still relatively new and gaining momentum but Unruly have estimated that around 5 tweets per second contain a Vine link. Vine works brilliantly with Twitter because the media is displayed in your feed. It’s really quick to view a Vine and even quicker to hit the retweet button.

What would make suitable content for a Vine?

The only real limit to a Vine’s content is your imagination. Although, it’s important not to try and cram too much into one Vine. As the time limit suggests, less is more. You should aim to whet the viewer’s appetite rather than give them a headache. The video content you create very much depends on your business. Are you a garden centre? Why not create a quick demo to show how easy it is to create a summer hanging basket? Vine really lends itself to stop motion, many brands are choosing this option. Your Vine could give your followers a sneaky peek of a new product being launched or show that your products look like in real life.

Vines can also be used to show the people behind your business. Why not have a quick office tour or introduce your team? However mundane your product, with a bit of imagination you could spice it up by showing a surprising application, for example why not have a superhero using a ratchet strap to tie up the villain?

You don’t even need to create the Vines yourself. Do as Mashable have and create a Vine to launch a contest and invite users to create their own Vines using a specific hashtag?

Are there any downsides?

Creativity really is key. It’s a bit like what your mum used to say, If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. The same goes for Vine, if you can’t say anything interesting…

The other possible negatives are that Vine videos can’t be saved as drafts and have to published straightaway. This is no good if you have to run everything past your manager for approval. If you make any mistakes, there’s no editing; you have to redo the video.

As with any marketing, you need to have a clear strategy in place rather than jumping straight into the deep end. By all means, experiment with different styles of Vines to see what gets the most shares but have an idea of what you want to achieve first. Do you want to attract more followers to your Twitter account? Keep your existing followers engaged? Or utilise Vine as an advertising platform and a reinforcement to your other advertising methods both off and online?

While you have a think about whether Vine would work for your brand, take a look at this example from the National Trust (if I wasn’t scared of snails I’d totally be setting up a snail race right now!)

and from TV presenter, Jake Humphrey.

We’d like to know how you’ve used Vine and how it’s worked for your business, please leave us comments in the box below.