To hear the Los Angeles Times tell it
is to YouTube what Twitter was to Facebook. But there's a hint of Instagram in there, too.
Launched in April 2011, the video-sharing service and mobile app has amassed 38 million users, including celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Shakira. The
basic idea is simple: Shoot what the app's developers call a "bite-size" video—no more than 15 seconds—with your phone, and upload it right then and there.
That's all well and good for celebrities who want to, say, post brief clips of themselves showing off their purple ties. But is it any use for brands or organizations?
Brooks Thomas, emerging media coordinator at Southwest Airlines, says it is.
"It's just another form, just like Twitter's another writing style," he says. "It offers an alternative in terms of the subjects you can use, in terms of
how you can express yourself."
Southwest happened upon the creators of Viddy through serendipity, Thomas says.
"We found out about them because we were booth mates at BlogWell last year," he says. "We liked what they had to offer."
Southwest likes it so much, in fact, that the airline has posted nearly 50 videos to the service in the
past seven months. Videos range from guessing games to very brief stories about employee life to announcements.
Thomas says Southwest approaches Viddy with the notion that there are three categories of videos: those catching a few seconds of something as it's
happening; those with a beginning, middle, and end; and those putting forth a call to action.
But why embrace a platform where videos can only be 15 seconds long, when YouTube allows some users to post videos that last hours?
"We're reaching an entirely different audience," Thomas says. "It's definitely a younger crowd. I think it's a hipper crowd—not to judge. It's a
technologically savvier crowd."
Thomas says Viddy certainly won't be anything akin to a replacement to the airline's YouTube presence or other social media efforts. It's just another tool
in the toolbox, just as Facebook and Twitter share Web space with message boards and chat rooms.
One thing that sets Viddy apart, Thomas says, is how easy it is to upload videos with a mobile device, and that it's "harmonious" with other social media.
Each video includes a "share" button that connects to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.
"Knowing that we are in areas with good service, when we can get that news out there, where it's shareable among other platforms, too" is really useful, he
As for the time limit on the videos, "You're still getting content out there," Thomas says. "You're sacrificing quality, but that's the platform."
Just because the videos are short, that doesn't mean Southwest doesn't put a lot of work into them.
"We do some editing before we upload the video," he says. "There's a balance. You have to shoot good stuff. We storyboard. Even a 15-second video needs to
be storyboarded sometimes. It's becoming uniform in our communication plans."
A recent convert
Chris Poole, media producer at Big Cat Rescue, a Florida sanctuary for tigers, leopards, bobcats, and other big
cats, says he found Viddy through a simple Google search for the top new social apps. So far, he has posted four videos of animals playing at the sanctuary.
"We're having a good reaction from a range of people," he says. "Big Cat Rescue hasn't been on Viddy for long, but we have hundreds of followers already.
People love to see the big cats doing what big cats do."
Poole says the simplicity of being able to shoot and upload from a mobile device makes Viddy easier to use than other video sharing services. For
organizations like his, that's really handy.
"We do the best we can and try to keep up to date with the most popular sites," he says. "Anyone can use this site to create quick, good-looking videos for
a range of purposes."
Even so, Poole says, odds are instant video probably won't overtake instant photo apps—such as Instagram—in popularity.
"Sometimes people don't feel like they have time to watch videos, but they can always check out a photo quickly," he opines.
Matt Wilson is a staff writer for Ragan.com.