Someone far wiser than me pointed out not so long ago that the evolution of any (consumer-facing) technology drives single-mindedly toward simplicity of use.
Less friction, less complication, more automation and more intuitive design.
Just think back to the Z1, the first programmable computer built in 1938 by engineer Konrad Zuse - so large it filled his parents' living room. Then compare it with a typical smartphone or tablet now: so small and so easy to use, a toddler could get to grips with it.
Moreover, as ease of use grows, so does the rate at which technology is able to gather momentum.
Take Vine, Twitter's mobile video app, launched at the end of January. While predecessors such as Viddy and Socialcam positioned themselves as the 'Instagram of video', but have yet to take the world by storm, there is something compelling about the deliberate simplicity of Vine, perfectly matched to its parent Twitter.
On the surface, six seconds of footage isn't offering much, right? Or perhaps, as others have noted, it is the video equivalent of 140 characters: the brevity is the (potential) source of its creativity. In its infancy, however, it is clear that there is still plenty of room for the video equivalent of the breakfast banalities for which Twitter users were criticised by early naysayers. So why should marketers pay attention?
1. The power of simplicity
We can all learn from the app's stripped-down interface, which attempts to remove every point of friction. Even things we would expect to see, such as a video 'play' button, have been removed. It is crucial to ensure that a video-based app flows fluidly and easily, perhaps, but Vine's creative director Rus Yusupov goes further - 'An interface should get out of the way'.
2. Its timing
Online video hit a tipping point at the end of 2011 when Cisco recorded that it exceeded 50% of global consumer internet traffic. And, as Brian Norgard at Chill.com put it last year, 'social is emerging as a starting distribution point for content'. It follows that the simpler social video is to make and distribute, the broader and deeper its reach.
3. Instant visibility
It's an obvious point, but the appearance of Vines as cards integrated into the Twitter stream is just one manifestation of the scale and credibility you get with Twitter's backing.
4. The opportunity for short-form, real-time creativity
If Oreo can 'win' the Super Bowl with a simple line and a pic on Twitter, there is more than enough opportunity for brands and agencies to be creative here. At the very least, it offers a fresh way to share a promotion or a response, give people a look behind the scenes or an imaginative expression of what the brand believes in. This is advertising, just not as we know it.
Mel Exon is co-founder of BBH Labs. Follow her on Twitter: @melex
- http://tinyurl.com/bpfhp5p - The social video app Vine enables users to film and share on Twitter up to six seconds of footage. Its on/off recording interface encourages scenes to be filmed as a series of quick cuts.
- https://vine.co/blog - @rus, the creative director at Vine, shares an insider's view of the forward-looking, simplicity-focused thinking behind the app design.
- http://brandsonvine.com and http://justvined.com - The former is a collection of brands' first Vines collected together on one Tumblr, the latter shares a selection of Vines just published.
- http://tinyurl.com/cc2nbvx - What might get in the way? Different social platforms started out with distinct offers and each could see benefits in staying open. Unfortunately, as their offers blurred, their competitive instincts kicked in.
- http://tinyurl.com/3p7v28 - Summary of internet video growth stats and more, May 2012.
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