Vine: Government’s 6 Seconds to Shine

It’s likely that you have heard of Vine in recent months. For those of you who haven’t (or who have, but aren’t exactly sure what it is) Vine is a mobile app by Twitter that allows users to create and post short, 6 second video clips. In turn, the videos can be uploaded, shared and embedded into a variety of social networking channels like Twitter and Facebook.

 Vine

Vine made its debut in January of 2013 and was met with mixed reviews. While some were excited about the potential that Vine presented, others were skeptical of what could truly be accomplished in 6 seconds and what types of videos would be created. However, as of April 2013, Vine became the most downloaded free app in Apple’s IOS App Store.

The way Vine works is simple. Videos are recorded and created with Vine’s in-app camera (the camera on one’s mobile device or smartphone). The camera only records while the screen is being touched, allowing various shots or snippets to be mashed together for up to six seconds. The video & audio are then looped together, forming a Vine that plays continuously. These Videos are able to be instantly uploaded to Twitter or Facebook and posted on Vine for followers to see.

As adaption to Vine continues, many people are attempting to figure out what the best use of Vine is. While the six second maximum presents a challenge to some, it also cultivates creativity and allows for messages to extend beyond Twitter’s 140 characters.

Government and Vine

As of April 1st the U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA) new media office announced that it had officially created government-friendly terms of service with Vine. As agencies and organizations create Vine profiles, they will be added to the Federal Social Media Registry, verifying official government social media accounts and distinguishing them from any fake ones.

So just because government can Vine, should it? I believe they should. While it may not be the most efficient way to send out important data and information, Vine opens a new door of communication and engagement with the public. While most communication between government and citizens is information focused, filled with text, data and some images, Vine allows citizens to engage with government in a completely different way and to see what is actually happening in government.

Vine takes a more “fun” approach to engaging with citizens and enables organizations to showcase their inner workings and share footage of things we would normally be unable to see, such as NASA’s visual tracking of Hurricane Sandy  across the East Coast.

Since its release in January, various government agencies and employees have taken to Vine and have begun to experiment with it.  Health.Data.gov posted a series of Vines during the 2013 Health and Human Services Innovates Awards and used Vine to promote and invite people to the Health DataPalooza in June.

My personal favorite government Vine was posted by California Congressman, Mark Takano, back in February. Takano chose Vine to offer up an inside look into his work in the House, featuring a Vine of him submitting his first bill.

The six second video showcases Takano’s steps from his initial signing of the bill to riding the Capitol subway, and concludes with him handing the bill in.

For government, the biggest struggle I see is similar to what other businesses are facing- deciding what to Vine. Six seconds is short and it can be a challenge to creatively think of things citizens would actually want to see or what messages could successfully be shared in six seconds. However, I think this is perfect for government communicators, who are constantly striving to simplify their organization’s message and share its most important points of information. To help begin the brainstorming process, I have come up with a few ideas of how government could begin to use Vine.

Introductions. So often citizens think of government as a compilation of organizations and agencies or entities. Rarely do we directly associate with individuals within organizations or think about what their office may be like. By taking to Vine, organizations can post 6-second introduction videos of various leaders and employees throughout the organization, putting faces to the organization’s name and making government a little more “personable”.  You can also create Vine shots of any fun happenings taking place at your office. This allows citizens to see inside the organization and an opportunity to witness a more “fun” side to government.

Ceremonies and Events. Government is engaged with a multitude of events at every level. Ribbon cuttings, national nights out, electoral events- these are all great opportunities to Vine and let those who aren’t in attendance in on the action. These Vines also promote what organizations are doing and draw attention to the various causes being celebrated or acknowledged.

Introducing new products. Government can also use Vine to promote their new products, such as mobile apps or online services. Vine allows multiple screen shots to be shown in one video. Showing what the app looks like, where it can be downloaded, and  showcasing product hightlights provides promotional opportunities for your organization and learning opportunities for your audience.

How-to Videos.  While six seconds may not seem like much, it’s long enough to provide some great how-to information if enough thought has been put into it. In fact, just the other day I watched a Vine and learned how to make a latte, complete with the fancy design on top! Government can use this as an opportunity to show citizens how to do things like sign up for an event, pay a bill online, download an app or use a new online resource. Taking quick 1-2 second shots of each step in the process allows for up to 6 steps to be shown, enough to get a basic how-to instructional across.

Promote Initiatives and Events. Government  has lots of initiatives and events to promote. Using Vine to create videos and spread awareness is yet another way to use Vine. Whether it’s national night out or a reminder that tornado sirens will be tested, creating a short video and sharing it on your social networks can bring even more attention to it. You can also use Vine to share public announcements. People need to be kept up to date and Vine videos are both to the point and entertaining. A 6 second vine featuring short clips of various public beaches could be used to announce the official opening of local beaches and lakes and may even inspire some viewers to go.

Engage with Citizens.  This is my final idea and a new way to expand the dialogue between citizens and government. Post a Vine that poses a question or promotes a trend and ask citizens to respond with a Vine post of their own. Going back to national night out, ask citizens to vine videos of their neighborhood gatherings and tag it with a special hashtag. Vines can also be useful for citizens to communicate problems with government. If a citizen sees a problem or situation they are unhappy with, they could create a Vine and share it with you via a tag on Facebook or mention on Twitter.

Hopefully the above list inspires some thought around the adaption and use of Vine.  I would love to hear any additional ideas you might have or how organizations are already using Vine today. Let us know what you think.

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