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.