By Jasper Martens, Simply Business

Twitter recently launched a new video sharing app called Vine. The service enables users to create and upload six-second videos using their iPhone, and to share them directly to Twitter or Facebook.

Although still in its infancy, Vine looks set to throw the social focus very firmly onto video, and the implications for small business marketing practices are significant.

1. Vine lets you communicate visually
For many small businesses, social media marketing has been a predominantly text-based pursuit. Now, though, the advent of Vine has placed the image front and centre - and it looks set to increase in prominence. In order to ensure your marketing strategy remains relevant and effective, it is important that you also start to position the visual at its heart.

2. You need to be snappy
Six seconds is not very long. Twitter has said that the time limit “inspires creativity”, just like the 140 character restriction. In reality, some marketers are likely to find this artificial limit constricting - but it does provide the impetus to produce punchy, high impact messaging. Vine requires you to make your point in a strong and succinct fashion and, in this way,it offers a good lesson that is transferrable across all of your marketing channels.

3. Don’t rely on sound
It is important to note that when Vines are embedded on Twitter, sound is disabled by default. Similarly many users will have their device set to silent. Consequently, it is important that you do not rely on sound in your Vines, but instead concentrate your efforts on visual impact. Consider sound to be an optional extra, and never an integral part of your video.

4. Videos pause on touch
Vine videos will automatically pause when the user touches them. This presents a number of creative opportunities for marketers. One of the first ‘Editors’ Pick’ Vines is of a magic eight-ball that displays a different solution each time the user touches it. This idea could easily be adapted to enable you to, for example, display a series of marketing messages. Think about how you can utilise the pause function to make Vine a more interactive medium.

5. Vine doesn't play well with others
At the moment Vine is a pretty restricted platform. The app is only available on iPad and iPhone - but, perhaps most importantly, Facebook has banned Vine connections. This means that Vine users cannot find their friends through Facebook, but it also signals a more general hostility on the part of the social networking giant. Until Vine becomes more closely intertwined with other platforms, it should be considered an exciting and useful addition to your marketing arsenal - but not the bedrock.

6. Vine is a symptom and a cause
Vine is a clear symptom of the internet’s growing love affair with video. The moving image has become one of the cornerstones on which the web is based, and its importance is only set to grow. If you want to develop an effective online marketing strategy, video must be part of it. Similarly, Vine represents one of the first serious contenders for a simple video sharing platform. It is therefore likely to herald an even more significant shift towards video, creating a feedback loop that will put the moving image front and centre.

How to make your first Vine

How do I use it?
The first step is to get the app. Vine is currently only available on iOS. Find and download the app in the App Store.

Once Vine has installed, you need to sign up for an account.
You can log in via Twitter or, if you prefer, you can sign up using an email address. Signing in via Twitter enables you to share Vines quickly and easily to your microblogging stream.

Next you will see the home screen. You will note that your stream automatically includes a series of Editors’ Picks even if you haven’t started following anyone. These will give you a good idea of what a Vine is, and which work well. You will see that the videos are a maximum of six seconds long, and that they automatically loop. When you touch the screen, the videos pause.

Try following some other users. Press the ‘Find People To Follow’ image at the top of the screen. You can then choose to search by username, reconnect with Twitter, or invite people via text or email. Once you have followed users, their Vines will start to appear in your feed. You can also search by tag by pressing the Home key, followed by Explore.

Let’s create our first Vine. To begin with, touch the Camera icon in the top right hand corner. You’ll see that Vine offers you a tutorial when you begin. Vine will record for as long as you hold your finger on the screen. Find something to use for the first part of your Vine video, and hold your finger down for a couple of seconds.

Now let go. Find something else to film, and hold your finger down again for a couple more seconds. You can repeat this process until you have filmed a total of six seconds worth of video. When you are happy with the Vine you have recorded, your next step is to upload it. If you use Instagram you will be familiar with the Vine upload screen. It provides a space to add a description of your video, along with a location where applicable. You can also choose whether you want to share the video to Twitter or Facebook.

And there you have it: your first Vine, uploaded and ready to play.

About the Author

Jasper Martens is the Head of Marketing and Communications at Simply Business, and he has been with the company since November 2009. Simply Business, is the UK’s largest business insurance provider.

Launched in 2005, Simply Business provides an online brokerage service delivering policies tailored to individual business requirements, insuring over 200,000 UK SMEs. It has a team of UK based insurance specialists and employs over 180 people across offices in London and Northampton. It has been a Sunday Times Tech Track 100 company for the past three years and was recently named in the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA.