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Borrrrring: Why Twitter's New 'Vine' App Sucks for Travelers

January 29, 2013 at 1:37 PM | by | ()

Vine. vine. VINE. Everybody's talking about Vine, the free "movie" app from the people at Twitter. Rolled out last Thursday, Vine allows users to create 6-second clips with audio, like a talkie GIF, on an iPhone. The app mainly hit the headlines for a slip-up that placed a porn Vine as an "Editor's Pick." Whoopsies, but it did the job of getting the word out about the new launch.

Clips can be live action, stop motion-style or loops, or a combination of all three depending on how you touch the app. There's no editing capability so a Vine requires extra forethought. Travel is one of only several official categories, and travel Vines are accessed by searched the "#travel" hashtag. The content there is already a complete mess of whatever, with nothing interesting enough to spend more than a second or two watching.

It took us like a half-hour to produce the 5-second Vine embedded below, and it's not like we're proud of it (click the link to make it work--another negative!).

So, is Vine something you should experiment with?

For individuals: One of the most exhausting/invigorating things in social media is building a following on a new platform. If you're out in the world, traveling and taking the time to make a Vine, you want people to see it, right? That's actually the weakest area for Vine—the actual watching, since Vine isn't downloadable on Android devices, can't be organically shared, can't be embedded into a blog...etc. So many "can't dos." We even had an issue with finding our Twitter friends who were also signed up on Vine; the app only located a few of the ones we knew had signed up.

Play with it a tiny bit and you'll also notice there's no way to edit the Vine once you've begun, nor is there a function that allows for sharing or adding hashtags or a caption after you've initially posted a Vine. Posting it to your Facebook doesn't even embed the Vine; your friends still have to click-through and play the video. That's asking for a lot of attention investment.

The lack of creative control is astounding considering that more creative control is all apps strive for with every update. Thus, it feels as if Vine comes from the age of Foursquare or Instagram 1.0, but without the inherent addicting qualities those possess and which ultimately made them successful.

For travel brands: Much of what we said above for individuals applies here as well. The potential is there, but the community is undeveloped right now, not to mention fragmented. Using the creativity and time of social media staff to develop a single Vine isn't worth it just yet. We've seen some brands attempting to make headway, like Maui Tourism and General Electric (if you'd count GE as a travel brand for their jet engine manufacturing), but it's not inspiring. Even the best efforts of General Electric, which typically are excellent and polished on other social media channels enough to go viral, feel amateur and rickety tickety due to Vine's limitations. And without a way to easily share these Vines, it's nearly pointless.

Final thought: We hate take a position that poo-poos any new tech, but Vine does not have a future as it stands now. Too much effort for too little reward. Still, as with most rogue social media channels, it will find a niche. For example, it's excellent for capturing favorite scenes from movies or TV shows, since GIFs do not allow for audio. Of course that means having to rewatch the scene over and over to get the Vine timing right, which quickly gets old.

Vine also seems a favorite outlet for showing off; this is evident from the Vines of people's recent purchases and the passport stamp flip-through Vines in the #travel tag. This would be yet another example of why it fails to impress with regard to travel; Vine does just fine with stationary things, but is complete rubbish at capturing spontaneous experiences.

The anticlimactic experience of Vine right now is best summed up by a random tweet we caught the other day, from art director/photographer/baker Jenna Park: "So far most of these vine videos are like watching the Yule log."

Postscript: There is one #travel Vine we do love, but it's not even possible to share it. If you'd like to see it, you have to head into the Vine app, search for the user "Darwin Yamamoto" and view his Vine from Fort Mason, San Francisco.

[Photo: screenshot]

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