Vine is adding to the way public figures interact with constituents. The mobile app, which is generated by Twitter, allows users to capture brief six-second video clips with the tap of a finger.  The videos can attract more views and attention as it spreads to other social media platforms. Brands, politicians, journalists and every day users have used vine since its release in January. While the app’s purposes remain seemingly endless, elected officials and political groups are incorporating Vine as a new media strategy tool.

As the next election cycle approaches, Vine is expected to become another social media platform for public figures to broadcast their political ads. How will six seconds of footage compare to a 30 second televised political ad?

Vine will differ from televised ads in its simplicity and quality; however, the overall content should remain similar. Political ads serve two important functions. This includes helping the candidate define their image and providing a medium where issues can be advanced and explained (Johnston & Kaid). Both purposes of political ads can already be seen in the way public figures are informally using the app.

Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) uses Vine to get out information in an innovative way that is interesting and relevant to the public. Video clips posted by the freshman office show Rep. Takano submitting his first bill and heading to the House floor to debate his amendment. Representatives need to be selective about what they show on Vine because filming is not permitted on the House floor.

The process of submitting his bill, the VetSuccess Enhancement Act, offers the public an informative and personal look into Rep. Takano’s work in the House.  This clip may also encourage his constituents to seek more information about the VetSuccess Enhancement Act, which would lengthen the eligibility time period for the Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation and Education VetSuccess Program.

Other politicians have also incorporated Vine into their new media strategy. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) has used vine to promote his image to constituents. He incorporated students from Carrboro High School in his first vine post to welcome viewers to Washington D.C. His other posts include an inside look at the U.S. Capitol rotunda and a visit with 5th graders from Brier Creek Elementary School. These videos show a personal look into how Senator Burr interacts with constituents, as well as a glimpse at his work in Washington.

The National Republican Congressional Committee used Vine to release one of the first political attack ads, which targeted South Carolina congressional candidate Elizabeth Colbert Busch. The NRCC issue ad shows a series of unhappy black and white faces with the text “Colbert Busch and the labor unions mean fewer jobs for South Carolina.”

Despite the growing use of Vine, there is currently not enough content on the app to make the short clips impactful. Vine users are in the process of understanding the app and how to generate interesting content. At this time, Rep. Takano and Sen. Burr have posted only three times each. Their number of followers is not much higher either. Rep. Takano has a mere eight followers, while Sen. Burr has slightly more at 66 followers. Although the numbers are low, it is important to keep in mind that videos produced through Vine are usually posted on Twitter to attract a larger audience.  The app is only four months old and will need more time to generate a larger community.

As the amount of Vine users grow, more videos will be shared on a regular basis and become increasingly impactful. Public figures and political groups should use analytic tools to see which type of Vines generate the most engagement and impressions. It is also important to learn who interacts the most to specific Vines, and where they are located. In doing so, political ads on Vine will become more effective and targeted for specific audiences.

Works Cited

Johnston, Anne, and Lynda Kaid. “Image Ads and Issues Ads in U.S. Presidential Advertising: Using Videostyle to explore stylistic differences in televised political ads from 1952 to 2000.” Journal of Communication. (2002): 282-284. Print.


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