Telling a Powerful Story in Six Seconds: How to Connect with Customers on Vine


In a famous Wall Street Journal interview, Robert De Niro said that you can tell a whole story in six seconds. That belief has caught on like wildfire in the past few years thanks to micro-video network Vine. Overworked and time-starved users have embraced the time-efficient format; more than 100 million people visit monthly, and people play 1.5 billion loops each day on Vine— that’s an enormous and highly engaged audience. However, successfully conveying a message and promoting engagement in a six-second video is still a mystery to most brands. In this two-part series, we’ll take a closer look at how to tell a great story as a brand on Vine and takeaways for companies that are contemplating launching their own campaigns.

Understanding Vine as a Platform

The most essential thing to understand about Vine is its ability to engage a younger demographic. By generating videos that amount to six-second-long interactions, Vine pioneered the micro-video. As it turns out, the micro-video format appeals strongly to young people. AdWeek’s Social Times recently explored some of the demographics behind Vine: the largest user age group is between 18 and 20. In other words, it’s a platform that helps connect brands to the coveted younger consumer demographic. With video poised to become 55% of internet traffic by 2016, there’s a strong incentive for brands to master the medium and understand how it integrates with their brand storytelling initiatives. As attention spans drop, video isn’t enough: telling short, sharp, interesting stories in the micro-video format is becoming essential.

Storytelling Principles for Six Second Stories

Referencing the same WSJ article, the entire De Niro quote offers a surprisingly instructive framework for thinking about storytelling on Vine:

“Six seconds of beginning, middle and end. I was just trying to time on my iPhone six seconds just to get a sense of what that is. It can actually be a long time. One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand, four one-thousand, five one-thousand, six one-thousand – you can tell a whole story in six seconds.”

Storytelling in short bites requires thinking differently about what a story entails. When writing fiction, authors need to start in the middle of the action. In six seconds, brands have to follow the same principle of getting to the point quickly. One way to visualize this is by implementing the “Iceberg Theory.” A popular reference point in consulting, the Iceberg Theory suggests that for any given subject, most people will only see a small sliver of data that can in turn unveil a whole world of information and insight that lies beneath the surface.

Branded Vines need to be approached in the same way: what is a six-second glimpse of your brand’s story that can capture the audience’s attention? What short snippet (or tip of the iceberg) can help convey what your brand stands for while unleashing an entire iceberg’s weight in engagement? In general, Vines are a gateway to a bigger story— they must connect to some other content experience that engages the viewer’s imagination and goes more in-depth.

Making the Most of Vine

If you’re thinking about engaging on Vine, here are a handful of tips to get you started:

Think about content types: Certain types of content work particularly well on Vine. Comedy and cute videos are great (if they align with your brand). Bold reaction shots of something happening – essentially, showcasing the punchline – tend to play well. Brands have teased new campaigns, launched products, shared breaking news, created short how-to’s, demonstrated a product’s most compelling features, and lifted the kimono for a look behind the scenes at company culture. One great example is LEGO on Vine’s stop motion campaign. It has a clear objective and it tells an engaging story about their product.

Create interactivity: As with all forms of social media, Vine is about starting a conversation. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking about what six-second bits of video you’re going to put out. But Honda’s #WantNewCar campaign shows that the platform can be interactive. The company responded to unhappy car owners with personalized Vine videos via Twitter. Look for creative ways to use Vine as a means to engage visually and personally with your audience.

Embrace nonlinear storytelling: While Vine videos maintain some structure, it’s fair to say that you’d be hard-pressed to fit a traditional beginning, middle, and end in that amount of time. Finding nonlinear ways of sharing your message is more likely to capture people’s attention. The Home Depot’s “one charger for all your devices” Vine is a great example of a nonlinear storytelling approach that clearly conveys its message.

Use influencer marketing: Amplify specific campaigns on Vine by using influencer marketing. By finding the leading content creators in your space, it’s possible to engage with a much wider audience on the network. Use the principles above to develop clear and innovative content creation guidelines that keep your campaign on message, while adapting to the potential of storytelling on micro-video. Partnering with FullBottle will ensure that every aspect of your campaign is a success, from identifying your influencers to setting clear content guidelines. An experienced influencer marketing agency helps brands navigate the world of micro-video and build stories and relationships that drive consumers to action.

Are you interested in exploring influencer marketing on platforms like Vine, Instagram, and Snapchat? Contact FullBottle today to learn more about our solutions.

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