Vine gets video sharing right--and it's perfect for sports

For nearly as long as users have been able to share photos on Twitter, there have been companies and products trying to push them to share video as well. In the early days there was Twitvid (which became Telly) and Yfrog, then the Shaq-backed Tout and even YouTube has recently attempted to get in the social sharing game with Capture. But none have replicated the early success of Vine.

With Vine, it's all in the nuances. As much as I want to credit Twitter (which acquired Vine before it even launched) for creating new user behaviors, the service is essentially an Instagram clone operating with a different medium. Instead of filtered or over-saturated photos, it's looping six-second video clips—somewhere between an animated GIF and the portraits in Harry Potter.

Vine's success lies in that format. Six seconds isn't enough time to say anything of substance and, if it were, do you really want it looping back over and over again? Plus, on the web, audio is disabled by default. Another nuance: Vine users can create compilations, but they must do so in one take. You create a post in Vine by holding the screen to record. You can use just a part of the allotted six seconds and add to it later, but you cannot go back and edit.

The goal with Vine isn't perfectionism, it's sharing what's in front of you. Vine's tagline in the Apple App Store is "make a scene," and it fits flawlessly.

Now, onto sports.

As I mentioned before, Vine's videos are extremely similar to animated GIFs, which have dramatically increased in popularity in the sports social scene over the past year or two. SB Nation just wrapped up its third GIF Tournament. But it's the sound, and immediacy that takes things to another level.

A quick personal anecdote. For each of the past three seasons, I've attended 'Closing Day' for the Seattle Mariners. When the game ends, and I've finished spending more time than I should just staring at the field and taking it all in one last time, I walk out the gates and feel about as bummed-out as I will all year. This past season, I remember as I walked out specifically looking forward to the first videos posted from beat writers reporting from Spring Training. I couldn't wait to hear mitts pop during the first bullpens and bats crack during batting practice.

Vine couldn't be exploding in popularity at a better time. Kevin Martinez, Greg Greene,
Nathan Rauschenberg and the rest of the Seattle Mariners marketing team have taken Vine as a tool and run with it. The ease of use means the wealth of video content is far beyond where it was in past years, giving fans passionate enough to be blown away by a view of batting practice more than they could ever want. Examples:

The Mariners' best, and first official use of Vine, came well before Spring Training. It also happens to be the best Vine post that's ever been and ever will be (little biased here). Felix Hernandez arrives to sign his record contract, and is greeted by the M's front office:

As great as the ease-of-use and immediacy are, I don't  believe that's where Vine's biggest potential lies. As I mentioned, Vine is essentially an Instagram clone with a different media format. Thus, Vine shares the same geo-tagging functionality. I noted not too long ago that this geo-tagging has immense potential for sports as, before long, fans will be able to open their computers, phones or tablets and jump from stadium to stadium, arena to arena, checking out live fan-created content from across the globe. In that post, I used this excerpt from a profile on Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom:

“Imagine the power of surfacing what’s happening in the world through images, and potentially other types of media in the future, to each and every person who holds a mobile phone,” Systrom says. At its best Instagram would be a pocket-size window to the world that will deliver a live view of what’s unfolding across the globe—say, Syrian street protests or the Super Bowl sidelines. “I think they have a Thomas Edison-like opportunity,” says Thrive Capital’s Joshua Kushner. “At some point in the next two years you’ll go onto Instagram and see what’s happening in real time anywhere in the world, and that’s world-changing.”

Funny it should mention the Super Bowl.

If Vine's adoption continues to grow at the rate it currently is, there may soon be hundreds—if not thousands—of videos produced at every major sporting event. And hopefully, not too long after that, we'll have a tool to easily browse them by location.

As I see it, Vine has immense potential due to the fact that it has appeal for so many groups—for individuals (fans) simply looking to share their experiences with their friends, for marketers/teams looking to create engaging content and for sports fans eager to eager to consume the content produced by each of the aforementioned groups.

After all, Vine is a Twitter product, and Twitter is much more closely-aligned with sports than any other social network. I can't say this enough: there's never been a better time to be a sports fan. And Vine is another in a line of numerous examples for why that's true.