Explore the potential of Twitter’s new Vine videos with your journalism staff

February 2, 2013

With the launch of the new Vine app on January 24, Twitter has made it easier than ever before to record and share videos, but Vine is going to make us rethink the nature of video and how we use it to tell our stories.  Just as Twitter limits the number of characters per tweet, Vine videos have a maximum length of 6 seconds, and the videos play on a continuous loop much like an animated gif.

Setting up an account with Vine takes a matter of seconds––you can download the app and sign in with your Twitter ID, and an account is created for you.  The Vine app experience is similar to both Instagram and Twitter in sharing, following, commenting, and hashtagging––providing a social media experience that we’re already used to. Creating a video is as simple as pointing your camera at the subject and holding your finger down on the screen.  Vine allows you to start and stop recording at any time so you can build a video out of shorter clips, but it doesn’t allow you to edit the clips or reorder them.  When you finish a video and post it, you’re given an option to post it to your Twitter account, and the video will then display in your Twitter feed.

What good is six seconds for a student journalist?  Vine could be used to capture highlights from an athletic event, a short clip of an interview, or even to show the ambiance, setting, and context of a story or event that before was only created with words.  It puts video reporting in the hands of everyone, making it much easier for a journalism staff to tell the story of their school. It can be auxiliary in nature, enhancing a story that you’ve published, or it could even become its own storytelling form and content delivery medium.

While a lot of scholastic news programs already use Twitter to push their web content to their audience and then embed Twitter feeds directly on their website, Twitter is also so much more than that.  It’s a way to engage the audience directly, to gather ideas from them, to build a relationship with them, to report things to them in real time.  It engages the audience on their phones, wherever they are––it takes the content to them, rather than requiring them (and waiting for them) to go to the content.  The same is true of Instagram and will be for Vine as well.

Just as many news staffs are already using Twitter to report on sporting events in real time, offering play-by-play coverage for their audience, Vine could provide a natural extension of this.  Vine videos could be used to do live reporting and provide quick updates and highlights from sporting events or any other breaking news.  It’s visual reporting and storytelling, and it can capture the events at a school in ways that you just can’t with a still photo or a tweet.

Vine will give every person out there the ability to capture the first visual draft of the news.  Just as we now read about breaking news on Twitter and Facebook, Vine will allow us to see those first videos of groundbreaking news events from around the world.

Vine doesn’t have a web interface yet, but that doesn’t mean the videos can’t be used on websites. As long as the Vine video was tweeted, it’s easy to embed it on your publication’s website or in a blog.  Click the More link on a tweet with a Vine video, and you can get the code to embed the entire tweet on your site.  You can also, with a little work, embed just the video itself by creating your own iframe code with the URL of the video.  Below is a sample of an iframe code––just change the URL to the URL of your Vine video (the URL will be in the text of a tweeted Vine video).  Leave the “/card” at the end of the URL.

 html4strict |  copy code |? 
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<iframe src="http://vine.co/v/b1wrpVJFAa6/card" height="300" width="300" frameborder="0">

If you haven’t yet done so, set up an official Vine account for your journalism staff, and have your reporters create an account and start playing with it.  Who knows what amazing uses they’ll come up with for this platform that is just in its infancy.