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Last week I wrote about how brands can be brilliant at Instagram Video, the social video platform offering an extra nine seconds more per video than its rival.

On the surface, you’d think that there’s not a lot to separate the formats. Both offer a similar mobile-first UX, easy interactivity with followers and an increasing array of tools to edit and filter your videos.

The ease with which you can share to other social channels certainly depends on which format you’re sharing to which platform. Twitter, as the owner of Vine, is far better optimised for sharing Vines than Facebook. Vice versa for the Facebook owned Instagram video.

Scratch a little deeper, and the differences between the formats and the way they are used by brands soon becomes clear.

Beyond the differences in length and available tools, Vine and Instagram video remain able to operate in the same space, whilst remaining unique in their own way, with brands tending to choose one or the other platform based on its own audience, content and tone of voice.

I’ve been doing a monthly round-up of the best branded Vines and Instagram videos for the last year and in that time I’ve learnt a thing or two about what makes for a great super-miniature video.

So, based on the above shaky qualifications, I present my tips for making brilliant branded Vine videos.

Stay down to earth

Vine is the no-budget film-makers dream. In its short existence the most innovative Viners have achieved millions of followers and have found subsequent fame in other media.

Perhaps the most consistent quality that all the best Vines have is a sense that they can be made by anyone, no matter what budget or skill level. All it takes is practice, time and a certain amount of ingenuity.

The best branded Vines have stuck to this philosophy. Here's a couple of excellent examples from Disney.

When brands make a Vine that’s too slick - one that’s obviously used too many expensive techniques outside of the capability of the everyday user - it can be quite the turn-off.

Here Ford has created a beautiful looking Vine, full of gorgeous cinematography. And although I have been assured its a genuine in-smartphone creation, I still feel like it’s too slick.

Especially when Ford excels at making down-to-Earth gems like this, which completely changes its own brand perception.

At last, you can edit!

An editing feature was introduced back in November. It basically means that if you’ve filmed a series of shots, you can the rearrange the order they appear in. 

This may seem basic but it really has blown Vine wide open in terms of what you can achieve with it in terms of montage. Gone are the days where you have to start again from scratch if you mess up a shot.

Imagine how hard the following would have been to achieve if it wasn't for the editing tools.

Infinite loop

One of the most intriguing (and occasionally irritating) features of Vine, that certainly separates it from Instagram video, is the fact that videos automatically play over and over again.

Some brands are taking full advantage of this and making endless loops of content. Get it wrong and you look like a bit of a failure. Get it right and you’ll be in top 5% of most enjoyable and addictive Vines ever. 

You only truly appreciate the infinite loop when you see one that almost manages it but not quite.

Sound design

One thing that many Viners are forgetting is sound design. This is mainly an issue when it comes to stop-motion animation, as it’s harder to control the sound that you’re recording and therefore harder to achieve a consistent soundtrack.

Poor or annoying sound can tarnish even the most creative of efforts from the biggest brands…

Here are a couple of simple yet charming examples that don’t do anything spectacular but raise an added little chucklesome layer.

Create exclusive content for the channel

One of my least favourite practices on any social channel is when brand’s merely cut down existing YouTube or proper broadcast ads to 6 seconds and pretend it’s a new Vine. It’s just lazy and you’re fooling nobody.

Brands who upload the same content to Vine and Instagram are also shooting themselves in the foot. Why would a follower bother following you on another channel if you’re just going to broadcast the same thing across each.

LEGO began uploading videos to both Vine and Instagram channels this month, with exclusive content for each. You have to follow them both for the full effect.

Agile marketing made easy

Because of its lo-fi nature, Vines can be knocked up super quick with very little time or money. This is great for brands that wish to comment on a current event or a trending news/cultural item.

Agile content can be also planned ahead to a certain extent. The Vine from Priceline below shows that obviously a large amount of pre-production was planned before the big game in terms of the set and puppets, however this meant it could quickly make a comment on the game and upload a video quickly in real-time.

Oreo is of course the king of agile marketing.

Build relationships

Develop relationships with your top contributors, they will ultimately become your most influential ambassadors. Brands on Vine often ask top Viners to make content for them.

It’s a great cross-promotional strategy that gives the user a new audience and brands can take advantage of the Viner’s fan base.

In many cases on Vine, the Viner’s audience far exceeds the brand’s. Batdad has 2.4m followers, Tide has 5,100.

Here he is again for Gap Kids.

Get social

Use a systematic approach when it comes to interacting with your audience to help build a community around your Vine content.

Find out what other social channels your community is using, engage with them there too.

Let fans know that they are an integral part of shaping your channel. Give them the chance to connect with you. This can mean properly engaging with them in two-way conversation or even getting them involved with the creation of your videos. 

It's not a rip-off, it's an homage

A film homage in advertising always smacks of laziness, however on Vine they can work exceedingly well. It’s mainly due to the constraints of Vine and the lack of expectation that you’d be able to achieve a satisfying riff on a million-dollar feature, that the following mini masterpieces work so well.

Tide does Carrie.

Oreo does The Shining

Ford does Drive.

And finally, to borrow a mantra that I used in my How to be brilliant at Instagram video post that is still applicable here...

Be innovative

Samsung has an unbroken run of mind-bending ingenuity.

If you can't be innovative, be useful

I hadn't thought of that!

If you can't be useful, be informative

General Electric is always great for a mini science lesson.

And if you can't be informative... be funny

Internet Explorer's cheeky little number.

If in doubt...

Just fire something unexpected into their faces.

Further reading for beginners

During my first year at Econsultancy I’ve been making a point of writing beginner’s guides to any new terms or phrases I find particularly baffling, or that I might suspect other people may find baffling too. 

The following related articles should help clear up a few things… 

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 15 July, 2014 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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