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Will Twitter VINE Engage or Enrage Patients…in Six Seconds or Less?

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer
Vine icon

Twitter's Vine

Take a few seconds (actually, six seconds or less) to get acquainted with Twitter’s new video sharing app, VINE. This latest-and-greatest social media (SM) phenom is catching on among Twitter-ites. Vine--along with a new wave of image sharing apps--is new, but it may or may not belong in your healthcare social media toolbox.

Clever new social media gizmos appear and disappear daily, but videos, animated GIFs and pictures are, as TIME declares, "taking over social networking." The latest, Twitter-backed Vine, is growing roots with the constantly-connected smartphone set. It is a free Twitter mobile service that quickly facilitates creating and sharing little loops of motion and sound.

Each of the many mobile apps, such as Instagram, Snapchat, Gifboom, or Cinemagram, has a unique way of sharing a brief visual message. What Instagram does for snapshot photos, Vine does for video mini-bites. It’s only been out for a couple weeks, and as a social device among friends, the concept is an appealing extension to the Twitter 140-character mini-blog platform.

Fun among friends? For sure. You can "share a moment," but can you share a meaningful healthcare message? The question for hospital and healthcare marketing professionals is whether or not a six-second video clip is a useful format to engage (or maybe enrage) prospective patients. Video, yes. A six second looping snippet is a creative challenge. And before getting swept up in the Vine hype, there are a few issues to consider:

  • Six seconds. That’s quick. Really quick. A six-second canvas requires a high level of creativity to communicate an interesting or informative idea in a limited time. Simply being visual helps tell a story, but careful planning, rehearsal, and re-dos may be needed to produce a professional message that will have a momentary existence.
  • Vine is a supplement to your message. Like adding a pepperoni topping, image sharing adds flavor, but it's not the pizza. Vine isn't a good candidate to carry the main social media message. It's a means to enhance what you want to communicate and pull people to parent Twitter.
  • Limited production capabilities. What you shoot with your iPhone or iPad is what you get. In its present form, Vine provides virtually no “post production” editing or ability to import from a camera. Except for your pause button, it’s mainly point-and-shoot.
  • Privacy? What privacy? Vine has no settings to limit how, when or where video is seen once posted via Twitter and potentially re-tweeted. Check with legal counsel about HIPAA and/or written release requirements in a medical, business or commercial situation.
  • Wobbly video and crackly audio. Handheld smartphones are “good enough” for capturing cute and casual puppy videos. But you don’t want to attach amateur image and sound quality to a professional practice or facility.

The established popularity of Twitter and the broad availability of mobile devices suggest that casual, even clever, image sharing will remain popular among socially connected individuals. Vine and others have limitations as an easy-to-use marketing tools. Nevertheless, you can already find "first vine" examples from commercial products and brands that show how to use a product, provide simple instructions, brand awareness, document an event, teach something, inspire or tell a story.

Some considerations may be answered as Vine matures, evolves and settles into a useful adjunct to your healthcare Twitter following.  It wasn’t long ago that Pinterest, Instagram and others worked through similar social media questions. Let us know how you're using Vine or other image sharing tools in healthcare marketing. We'll spotlight the best ideas and examples in a future post.

Learn more about Vine on its own blog. And for additional healthcare and hospital marketing lesions, read our previous post, Social Sins of Tweets and Twitter.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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