The Right Audience for Vine

The interface of vine is strangely equalizing in its startling simplicity.  You just touch the screen—there isn’t even a button.  Anyone who has accessed the app can touch the screen.  After all, that is how they got into the app.    This simplicity has its problems.  You look at the screen and wonder—what do I do?  There are few signifiers of the next step.  Now, there is a bit of a tutorial to get you going. But in the first version, there you were, with nothing but your wits (and/or wit.)  Basically, the app is easy but sort of hard; accessible and inscrutable.

The issue is what will people do when faced with this complexity?  There are many people who will just stop.  Given that it is a technological interface, you might assume it is seniors who are stalled.  But, having worked with Vine with visitors of all ages that is certainly not a universal truth.  There are Luddites amongst our youth and there are digital explores amongst our silver-haired lot.

Modeling and excitement are key in getting the recalcitrant and the trepidatious on board.  A person, a real human being, showing how to use Vine for a couple of minutes (or about 18 Vines length) can convert people.  Oh, that and a little show and tell.  I have found just showing a few good, doable videos will make people excited.

So, which audiences am I talking about?  Well, I want to say all of them.  But, I have experimented most with families and teens.

With families, at museums, telling stories is a natural way to engage people.  We have explored setting up, literally, tools that help tell stories.  We created a painted backdrop based on a painting, and had families tell a short story about being in the painting.  We had some prompts and then allowed people to add ones.  This first experiment had challenges.  They say never work with kids or animals.  And basically every vine had at least 2 kids and then 2 painted goats.  We were learning how to empower people to tell stories with Vine, and we didn’t really understanding the narrative possibilities of the media.

One of my colleagues has vast experience with working with teens.  I can relate my less vast experience.  In one of my programs, I gave my students the assignment of many Vines.  I work with these students every month for two years, so I know them pretty well.  But, their reaction to Vine surprised me.  Only about 1/10 of the 60 students had used Vine or for that matter had it on their phone.  And of those who did use Vine, most of them just used it to view and repost content produced by others.   Before I sent them on their way, I gave them a little tutorial. Ostensibly, the students were to create videos that responded to any of the 10 different prompts we offered.  But, as we expected, some did and others went in their own direction.  And, in both instances, there were really great video moments that resulted.

In trying to draw generalizations from these two programmatic implementations of Vine, I would suggest the following tips:

Know your audience by talking to your audience: You don’t know anything about someone—until you ask.  So, start by asking if someone has used Vine.

Share the app in an open manner: Don’t make Vine seem too easy—or too hard.  Rather don’t come off as someone who has it all figured out and that the visitor is not tech savvy for having to be taught to use it.

Create a framework and then allow your audience to disregard it: Some people are most creative within a framework but others find it constricting.  Accept both of these people.

Try and try again: Use Vine in many ways with many audiences.  You never know when it will stick.


My vines can be found here.

I have written a series of short posts about Vine.  Enjoy:
Vine Video for Museums: Post 1
How can Museum Educators use Vine?
The Right Audience for Vine
Fostering Participation in Vines
Vine to Share the Museum Experience
Narrative in Vine
Vine on Your Own
Vine Interface—An Orientation
Vine Basics
Vine and Audio
Stop Motion Tips

I produced these posts as notes in preparation for co-writing this paper for Museums and the Web 2014, with Alli Burness, @Alli_Burnie; Patty Edmonson, @Retrograde_D; and Chad Weinard, @caw_

Our presentation Vine feed is here. 

Our workshop in April, 2014 sparked some good conversation, see the Storify.

Many of our participants made some wonderful Vines, check these out.

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