Vine Boosts Twitter’s Traffic Potential

Stephen Yagielowicz

Adult content promoters, performers and fans have all embraced social networking platform Twitter as a fan base building tool and audience touch point, using a technology that is ideally suited to adult applications — even if Twitter and other companies such as Apple, would prefer a porn-less environment. This latter point came to the fore following the release of Vine, a Twitter service that the company calls “a new way to share video.”

According to Twitter’s Michael Sippey, Vine is a mobile service that allows users to capture and share short looping videos.

Reported videos are manually reviewed and if found to violate Vine’s guidelines are removed from the site, and the posting user potentially terminated. In the case of blatant pornography, termination is more than probable and almost certain.

“Like Tweets, the brevity of videos on Vine (six seconds or less) inspires creativity,” Sippey stated. “Now that you can easily capture motion and sound, we look forward to seeing what you create.”

Unfortunately, these consumer creations reportedly included a gay porn clip featuring a fellow inserting a dildo into his… well, let’s just say that this clip, which the service claims was mistakenly named an Editor’s Pick due to “human error,” caused quite a stir — to pardon the pun — when its front page placement on the site raised howls due to its non age-restricted display of hardcore pornography.

Compounding the uproar is the fact that Vine is an iPhone and iPod touch application available as a free download from Apple’s notoriously restrictive App Store (although it will doubtlessly be sped to other platforms as quickly as possible), with a resulting strain on the relationship between the two companies.

While immediate measures such as a warning screen and revised rating help smooth things over, it is hashtag filtering and other methods that will provide an easy solution for making adult content harder to find on Vine — and while no marketer wants to see his or her product rendered invisible — its appearance is at the heart of the perception problem.

According to Mike Isaac at AllThingsD, Vine does not have a porn problem; it has a porn discovery problem, wherein adult content is surfaced too easily via hashtag keyword searches, which are less limited than those on YouTube, for example, which has a more mature engine for filtering out objectionable content.

He also notes that the problem is as much one of Apple’s intolerance than anything else…

“The prudish Apple can deal with the fact that yes, we are human, and yes, we watch porn (lots of it). And to some degree, it will always exist across the Internet. It’s a fact of life,” Isaac wrote. “But what Apple can’t deal with is said porn front and center, easily discoverable for any and all to see.”

“In other words, think of yourself as a teenager to Apple’s repressed mother,” Isaac explained, while providing a universal context: “You hide your porn under your mattress. You don’t leave it out on the coffee table.”

The analogy hints at the underpinnings of the equation: porn will always be wanted, but there’s a time and a place for everything.

Amongst the obstacles that adult marketers will face while trying to find acceptable ways of employing the Vine platform is using content that is softcore enough to persist for more than a very short period of time before removal. Think you won’t get caught violating the company’s terms of service? Twitter turned to crowdsourcing compliance control by encouraging Vine users to report illicit material as part of its porn response.

“Users can report videos as inappropriate within the product if they believe the content to be sensitive or inappropriate (e.g. nudity, violence, or medical procedures),” states a Vine spokesperson. “Videos that have been reported as inappropriate have a warning message that a viewer must click through before viewing the video.”

Reported videos are manually reviewed and if found to violate Vine’s guidelines are removed from the site, and the posting user potentially terminated. In the case of blatant pornography, termination is more than probable and almost certain.

Churning and burning social media accounts for a shortterm gain may not be nearly as profitable as long-term brand building today, so the possibilities are tangible for those that can exercise a degree of moderation and restraint — and limited for those that can’t.

Of course, adult entertainment is more than hardcore porn, with the cams and dating, as well as amateur segments of the marketplace, for example, being prime candidates for effectively exploiting the visual power of continuously looping six second video clips via Vine or elsewhere — while expansion to Android opens up Google’s less restrictive app distribution channels, which are already a darling of adult app developers.

On the production front, clips targeting Vine should not only be tailored for mobile devices (iPhone in particular) but be focused on delivering a story (such as it is) in six short seconds — batch trimmed clips of generic porn flicks won’t produce good results, at least not for long, even if a few traffic spikes come your way.

At the end of the day, traffic starved adult website operators and promoters will want to use the Vine platform — and many consumers will want to enjoy this explicit material. The trick will be to find ways of serving both videographer and video viewer that will be acceptable to our corporate nannies.