This weekend's snowpocalypse hasn't reached its full wrath yet, but Vine, the latest craze in image sharing, is already full of looping videos depicting today's dreary weather. A search for the #nemo hashtag surfaces all kinds of videos like this eerie scene at Olin College in Southeastern Massachusetts:
With something like weather, the effect of which people can see with their own eyes, this kind of on-the-scene reporting makes sense, especially when everyone is reading Vine owner Twitter for second-to-second updates. That very reasoning is what made Instagram so useful during Sandy. With its 90 million monthly active users, Instagram will surely see a lot of action this weekend. In fact, it already has with plenty of snowy photos showing up under the #nemo tag. But while Vine is just two weeks old and certainly has far few users than Instagram, it has one important leg-up on its more mature visual-driven app: It works with Twitter.
About a month after Sandy Instagram pulled its images from Twitter, meaning that when people tweet their images the photo no longer shows up on the stream, instead presenting a bare link, as you can see on the right. That might not sound like a huge difference. To see whatever is behind the tweet involves a simple click. But, visual news loses a lot of punch when it requires an extra step. Or, in other words, showing works better than telling. Vine, which has no problem with Twitter because it is Twitter, will show up right in the Twitter Card, as you can see below.
The other thing working in Vine's favor is that Instagram isn't as hegemonically cool as it used to be. Since Sandy, the app had a little Terms of Service debacle, which might not have scared users off Instagram, but it opened their eyes to other possibilities. Flickr, for example, just got a seal of approval from early adopter Mat Honan who just wrote a "Flickr Is Back" post for Wired. We've also seen the rise of Snap Chat, which Honan argues is a competitor to Instagram and Facebook: "Snapchat is far faster than Instagram and far more private than Facebook." Vine, on the other hand, is something a little different. More of a replacement for the GIF, than the photo.
Vine, unlike Snap Chat, also happens to have the seal of approval of the Twitterati. Journalists and brands alike, who dismissed SnapChat as the app for tween sexters until noticing its massive growth, have been experimenting with the new video medium to "figure it out." With all their followers and followings, these two groups motivate a lot of what happens on the social platform and much of media and advertising concentrated in New York, a weekend stuck inside as snow piles on and increasingly isolated people want to know what's going on provides the perfect opportunity to fine-tune the Vine sharing experience.