Betty Adamou

Released at the beginning of the year, Twitter’s very own Vine application has reached a peak over the last month. Being used by celebrities, businesses for promotional use and people who want to share 6 second videos about their cats and other bizarre videos of confessions of love and more (Vine was extremely popular around Valentines Day).

Aside from all the sleeping cat and love-heart stop-motion videos there are really some very creative and clever videos, some using stop-motion techniques or several videos which make up a single story. But some of the better ones which I like the most are the videos which take advantage of the fact that the video automatically loops in order to give the impression of a never-ending story.

Vine only gives users 6 seconds of footage for each video and if that wasn’t tricky enough, the process of making a video is unfamiliar, as you can only record by pressing your finger on your smartphone, so it’s not too good if you want to include yourself in your own Vine video. Also, film-makers must film continuously by using their finger to pause and re-start recording, so there is no chance of coming back to continue filming another day, unless you have extra long battery life. Which means there’s no chance of editing either. If you make a mistake, you have to re-make the video all over again. However, once you become expert at using those precious 6 seconds the ideas are endless and there is lots of fun to be had – if you use the Vine app or go onto Twitter and search #Vine, you’ll see what I mean. Some recent examples are from the new Impact magazine, where a Vine video is being used to promote the upcoming 1st issue and also from Vine Flip – a platform designed to turn Vine users’ short video clips into offline, paper flip books.

Of course, since the first phones that let us film we’ve always had the ability to take 6 second videos. However, part of the hype with Vine is the use of the loop effect, limited editing, keeping to the 6 second rule and the ability to share on other social networking sites. There is also the ability to ‘like’ and comment on videos as well as follow people, so it has those familiar social network components. Plus, as it’s free, people have had a ‘why not’ approach to messing around with it and getting more inspired for it’s many uses. Because the videos are only 6 seconds, they can be watched the whole way through without taking too much time or risk boring anyone. I’ve seen it being used to capture images of meteor showers in Russia, journalism in Turkey and covering runway shows at London Fashion Week. But what about research?

The immediate stipulations for use in research studies is that, not every participant will have a smart-phone and therefore, access to Vine. Also, there will be cases where a participant simply doesn’t have access to the internet, so can’t upload. Sometimes even with a fantastic internet connection can sometimes be tricky. In my own research using timers in online studies and the research of people like Jon Puleston, we can see that adding time pressure can be beneficial on different levels, which is where the 6 second challenge comes into play.

Using time-pressure doesn’t just help in keeping people’s attention, or decreasing drop-out rates in online surveys (as I’ve seen in my own studies) or indeed reducing boredom and increasing creativity levels (as I’ve seen in focus-groups I’ve run). I would also say there are benefits from other points of view and for other people involved in a research study that requires video. Analysts and developers will be using less time trolling through video data from a diary-study, for instance, if they have 6 second videos from each respondent as opposed to videos of various lengths often not succinct enough for clients to want to watch. Giving participants 6 seconds is a challenge, but having a limitation (as I’ve seen in many TED Talks) can also be the mother of creativity.

So, the uses of Vine does have it’s space in research in my humble opinion, so I hope that the #MRXVineComp got people curious enough to explore the app and perhaps already use it with participants.

The #MRXVineComp
The competition started when I was messing around with the App after my fiance introduced me to it. After what felt like hours helping him with his own Vine video one evening, I stayed awake until about 4am thinking about using it for research. To promote the possible uses of the application in market research I created 5 categories (although it seems researchers like to break the rules, as most entries were not ‘categorisable’).

1. Promo Tell us about your business with a focus on it’s USP (a 6 second promo)
2. Common probs Tell us about your common MRX problems (a 6 second description of issues you usually run into – I imagined some of these will be quite funny)
3. The Future Tell us about how you see the future of MRX (a 6 second interpretation of the future of our industry)
4. Successes Tell us about success stories (a 6 second overview of your successful MRX projects)
5. Your love for MR: 6 seconds showing us what makes you love research and/or working in research

So, my intentions behind the competition was to:

a) Encourage creativity in our research industry by using the Vine app/6 second limit in interesting ways to get a message across.
b) Provide a platform of interest in the future of our industry by sharing videos which shared our perceptions of the future with each other.
c) …and the companies/people within research by allowing organisations to tell us what is special about them in only 6 seconds.
d) Get people to open-up and relate to the common MRX problems/success stories.
e) Have some light-hearted fun and humour and share the love we all have for research.

I should also say when I launched the #MRXVineComp, we opened it up to non-smartphone users allowing for video uploaded on to youtube. I knew that some people using YouTube to upload 6 seconds of footage was, in a way, cheating as they would have had the capabilities of editing, which Vine doesn’t offer. But I knew it wouldn’t take away from the spirit of the competition or the creativity I was hoping to see and did see. We allowed people to use non-Vine applications because I didn’t want to leave anyone out and also, the use of Vine itself wasn’t a big part of my point.

The Vine video entries were from all around the world and you can see them here, some as far as Toronto and Australia. The winning video was from Georgian RAP students Stephanie Danielle, David Wiszniowski and Sarah Mehbratu in Toronto. While second place went to Lexxy Sturgess and Jo Dionysou at Carrot Recruitment in the UK. Well done to everyone involved, and you can see the two winning videos below.

I am so very glad that people took part, especially the students at Georgian RAP entered the competition with more than one video as they were entertaining but also quite apt at ‘hitting the nail on the head’ depicting, how I’m sure some people feel about research. It also showed that the researchers of tomorrow are interested in getting creative and want to share their thoughts with the rest us of, which is great. We can all do with inspiration from another perspective (even if that inspiration comes from a jokey video) and inspiration from new software. I hope after reading this people can download the app or use the time limit challenges in their own research and see the benefits I’ve seen so far.

Research Through Memeing
David Wiszniowski, Sarah Mebrahtu and Stephanie Danielle of Georgian College

Lexxy Sturgess and Jo Dionysou at Carrot Recruitment

Betty Adamou is founder of Research Through Gaming