Friday, July 17, 2009

Tweets + 12s = video twitter?

If tweets were short video clips instead of words, they'd probably be something out of —a Twitter-like video-messaging startup based in Santa Cruz, Calif., that's already starting to bend the rules of both social advocacy and marketing. Tweets are 140 characters long; a video lasts no more than 12 seconds—a kind of talking, moving, real-time snapshot that can capture anything from an opinion to a baby's first steps to a feeling or a news flash. “It’s a different way to engage with someone on the Web,” says cofounder Sol Lipman.

Unlike most of the fare on YouTube, 12seconds’ videos—known as "12s"—are uber-short and often emotionally evocative glimpses of “right-now” moments, more like a memorable photograph and a feeling than a story. [See the 12-second Me Plus Italy, above]. Also different about 12s, says Lipman, is that they're made mostly for consumption—for the people who would watch them. To be sure, video-messaging represents a new step in the evolution of social media that offers fresh opportunities for creative expression, event coverage, and persuasion.

Big advertisers and new-wave nonprofits are sitting up and taking notice, especially now that the new iPhone3GS is fueling a bump-up in 12seconds' traffic. A variety of advertising and marketing agencies have approached Lipman and his colleagues, looking to sign up 12seconds to co-create user-generated content for brands ranging from M&Ms to LG Electronics to Adidas.

Consider the startup’s recent “12omercials” [tweet-able commercials] for Adidas, called the 12th Man Campaign. The initiative asked members [known as 12ers] to create their own 12-second shorts to broadcast their enthusiasm for England’s Chelsea Football Club during the run-up to tomorrow’s friendly soccer match against the Seattle Sounders. Participating 12ers made videos in May and June to earn a 12th man spot on the Chelsea bench. Adidas has been running some of the better 12s on the JumboTron in Seattle’s Safeco Field. But only this clip won the contest, which ended last week. (Here’s another that made the finals.)

12seconds is trying the same formula to help boost the visibility of some nonprofits, including the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Summer of Social Good, and Earth Hour. The Summer of Social Good campaign, for example—organized by Mashable—asked 12seconds to invite its community to film people (and themselves) saying what they would do or give up to benefit the good of society. Here’s one of the three, 12-second spots that won a free Kodak Zi6 pocket video camera for its producer. “I don’t think we’ve been able to raise tons of money directly for nonprofits yet,” says Lipman, “but I think 12seconds is a great tool for spreading the word, creating a video brand, and then giving people a bunch of great content to utilize.”

Lipman says about 60 percent of the videos appearing on are produced on Web cams, 30 percent on mobile phones, and about 10 percent in video uploads. But that’s soon to change: With the iPhone3GS, Lipman says there’s been a surge in the number of mobile spots across the site. "Mobile, in general, is just beginning to become this huge opportunity to bring us all closer together,” Lipman says.

What do you think?

—Marcia Stepanek

(Top video: Me Plus Italy, courtesy Italyworkshop on
(NOTE: This post first appeared on and is being re-posted here with permission)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The perfect gift for the narcissist who has everything.

July 17, 2009 at 6:53 PM  

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