Twitter debuted its new video application, Vine, to its more than 500 million members in late January, and restaurant chains have already begun incorporating the tool into social-media marketing efforts.
Vine is a free application for the iPhone and iPod Touch that adds sound and moving pictures — in six-second clips — to the micro-blogging experience of Twitter. With the press of a button, the video clips can be pushed to Twitter and Facebook feeds as well.
Taco Bell took to Vine on Feb. 13 to tease the upcoming introduction of its Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos, the extension of its popular taco line, to its 5,600 quick-service units. Other restaurant operators, too, are finding that the tap-and-record snippets take the limited 140-character Twitter experience to a new level.
Although brief, the animated content can make a message more engaging, said Dan Kim, founder and chief concept officer of Dallas-based frozen yogurt concept Red Mango, which has 220 units. “While six seconds, in most cases, will not be enough time to communicate a traditional commercial message,” he said, “it does provide us with an opportunity to express our brand's personality or our product's attributes in a way that is more captivating than a still image, but not as complex and demanding as a video clip.”
Kim added that the six-second limit for the clips "inspires users to be creative and concise," which he believes leads to the creation of "better and more engaging content that doesn't require a lot more time to consume and understand.”
While the platform is still new, chains as varied as Dallas-based Chili’s Grill & Bar, a 1,549-unit casual-dining chain, and Mama Fu’s Asian House, a 13-unit fast-casual chain based in Austin, Texas, have given it a spin. And like with most social media tools, the leveled playing field gives independent restaurant operators as much an advantage in their geographic markets as the giant chains.
Victoria Shparber, who co-owns the Black Forest Deli in Bethlehem, Pa., with her mother, Milana Shparber, has embraced many social media avenues for the Russian-influenced eatery and so far sees Vine as a useful marketing tool.
“Who wants to see a three-minute video from a local deli?” Shparber asked. “I think you can get the idea across of what’s going on in your business in the six-second time frame. I personally am trying to use Vine to just be different and make it more visual for my potential clients, as well as my customers. I want them to see the sandwich itself or what’s going on at the deli today or who is here.”
Shparber’s short little videos on what her mother is cooking or the beauty of pickled eggs are delicious vignettes – and that’s the essence of any eatery.
What follows are some tips and best practices from restaurant brands that are already using the Vine application, as well as a look at some of their video clips.
Chili's, Red Mango offer tips
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Chili’s Grill & Bar's social media team
The social media team at Chili's Grill & Bar suggests having a purpose for the clip; using the looping feature to your advantage; and practicing before posting.
“Making a good video takes time, even if it is only six seconds,” said the Chili’s team in an email. “So, take your time to film properly, and in a way that represents your vision.”
Watch a Vine video from Chili's:
Dan Kim, founder and chief concept officer of Red Mango
Kim offers the following three tips for creating effective content on Vine:
• Be relevant and engaging. “The rules are no different than those we have in place for other media we publish,” Kim said. “The fact that it is only six seconds should not give us license to create and distribute boring or off-topic content; rather, it should inspire us to be as impactful as possible within a very short amount of time. Think of Vine as the Twitter for still and animated images.”
• Be creative. “Vine is an opportunity to do all sorts of creative things that are possible with time-lapse photography and stop motion animation,” Kim said. “Both the content you publish, and how creative it is, will determine the impact your clip will have on people.”
• Have fun. “Don't limit your content to things that are simply informative,” Kim said. “Try developing humorous content that involves your brand in relevant ways but is created solely for its entertainment value instead of its ability to communicate a marketing message. Our recent Vine clip shows a dancing hot chocolate cup, because, well, our hot chocolate cups like to dance!”
Watch a Vine video from Red Mango:
Mama Fu's, Black Forest Deli weigh in
Albert Im, marketing manager for Mama Fu’s Asian House
Because Vine features audio as well as moving pictures, capturing six seconds of music or narration can be a challenge, said Im. “The stop-and-go nature of Vine recording is definitely something to work around,” he said. “I found that what worked for me was to find a song that was fairly non-descript — a song that doesn't have too recognizable of a melody, that way when the recording stops and starts it isn't too jarring. Plus, the stop times between ‘takes’ were fairly short in this case, which helped make the audio relatively coherent.”
Im said he views the Vine snippets as a way to share Mama Fu’s moments with a social-media-savvy audience “in the same way that many moviegoers look forward to the trailers before the film. These days, fans are much more willing to watch quick video bites than commit to a five-minute-or-longer production, which is exactly what Vine delivers every time.”
Im’s tips for restaurants that want to use Vine are:
• Embrace brevity. “Think about what makes the short, tap-and-record platform unique and approach it as a new creative challenge,” Im said.
• Get straight to the point. That means, Im said, leaving “just enough out to intrigue the viewer.”
• Remember Vine is social media. “The same rules of engagement apply here,” Im recommended. “Watch other people's videos, comment on them and make friends. You'll learn a lot about your audience and find great inspiration for Vine posts in the future.”
Watch a Vine video from Mama Fu's:
Victoria Shparber, co-owner of Black Forest Deli
Shparber features a wide number of guests and her cooking mother in the deli’s Vine videos, which she said helps the neighborhood restaurant connect with its customers.
“It doesn’t always have to be about business,” she wrote in an email to Nation's Restaurant News. When the videos play over and over again in a loop, it can in itself be amusing, she added.
Shparber also suggested engaging Vine users by asking questions. “For example,” she said, “I made a sloppy Joe sandwich on a special today, and I can ask, 'Have you ever had one of these?'”
Watch a Vine video from Black Forest Deli:
Halupkis time!!! vine.co/v/bnbU9UXqHOg— BlackForest Deli (@BlackForestDeli) February 5, 2013