Candidates, elected officials and the media are beginning to experiment with short video platforms such as Vine, Tout and Instagram Video. Because of the shortness of the videos created and shared on social networks, these platforms are ideal for the emerging mobile market, which is growing exponentially.
C-SPAN used Tout at the 2012 GOP Convention in Tampa. Delegates to the RNC Convention were encouraged to submit 15-second Tout videos of their experience. Several submitted videos by RNC Delegates were aired on C-SPAN. Earlier in 2012, C-SPAN sent its Campaign 2012 bus on a week-long tour of universities and towns in North Carolina to get feedback from students and citizens on the Presidential campaign, asking them to submit their thoughts and ideas via Tout.
Vine, a mobile app owned by Twitter has grown significantly in popularity. Vine allows users to create six-second videos and share them via Twitter and Facebook. President Obama recently signed up as a Vine user and has posted short videos ranging from the White House Science Fair to a note commemorating the anniversary of the Library of Congress. Several members of Congress have used Vine to mark everything from the submittal of legislative bills to the welcoming of constituent visitors to the Capitol.
The National Republican Congressional Committee produced one of the first political ads on Vine in April targeting Elizabeth Colbert-Busch in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District special election. The ad focused on Colbert-Busch’s support from Union groups after a recent controversy regarding the National Labor Relations Board and its initial opposition to the location of a Boeing plant in South Carolina. The ad received a good deal of earned media coverage.
Instagram video is new to the short video platform scene having been just released by Facebook in June. Instagram video allows users to create 15-second videos and share them via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Foursquare and e-mail. In another differentiation from Vine, Instagram has a “cinema feature” which helps to stabilize video shot within the app. Those elected officials who have long had Instagram accounts such as the White House and members of Congress, are starting to utilize the Instagram video feature. First Lady Michelle Obama recently uploaded videos of her South Africa trip with the President to her Instagram account. House Majority Whip, Kevin McCarthy recently uploaded an Instagram video of him playing Frisbee with the family dog at his home in California. Congressman McCarthy’s video received over 2k likes on Instagram.
Will other campaigns and elected officials follow suit in using short video platforms? Only time will tell. One current challenge with using these platforms, are that they only allow you to shoot video with a mobile device and do not allow for the uploading of professional quality video shot separately. This results in less quality production of video for an ad. For example, Vine political ads have the quality of early release bootleg video recordings of movies playing in theaters, as they are a smartphone recording of a video produced elsewhere. Campaigns may be well-advised to use Vine and other short video platforms for “insider” type shots and quick interviews that are shot originally on a smartphone.
Due to the continued growth of mobile, platforms such as Vine, Instagram and Tout are idyllic for the sharing of short video which users can view quickly while running errands or taking a break at work. Short video fits into the BuzzFeed news model of heavy and light content that the news is evolving into. However, these short video platforms are best for producing light hearted content until they have the capacity to upload production quality video.