2012 was a pivotal year for online video. The numbers? Well, in 2012: 56% of consumer web traffic was video, YouTube users watched more than 36-billion hours of video and online video was the fastest growing ad format (+55%). Put simply, 2012 was the year of Gangnam Style.

What about the regional statistics? There are 167 million online video views a day in the Arab region; putting the region in the number two spot in the world (behind the U.S). A whopping 90 million of those daily video views come from KSA, a region where movie theaters are banned and YouTube is affectionately regaled as “Saudi Cinema”.

Jump to January 2013, and Twitter launches Vine. Dubbed ‘the Instagram of video’, Vine is a free video recording application for iPhone/iOS that allows users to record and share video amongst an active and growing in-app community. Recordings are limited to 6.0 seconds with the camera only recording while the screen is being tapped, giving gif-like effects with the addition of an audio file.

Vine can be used in various ways, from capturing timely events, creating mesmerizing video art to simply showboating clips of your cat in a bow tie. Gimmicks, memes and looping cat videos aside, people and corporations alike are discovering new and valuable applications for the 6-second video service – just ask “deadline-Jedi” Dawn Siff who’s plucky ‘Vine resume’ landed her a job at the Economist on Tuesday.

How are brands using Vine?

In a space that is dramatically shifting to visual, video will undoubtedly play an increasingly important role in the way brands engage and drive messaging on social. As with any new social network, brands are very much in a stage of experimentation as to what content works and what doesn’t.

Urban Outfitters

An edgy high-street retailer focusing on trendy and cutting edge fashion, Urban Outfitters (UO) is one of the most enthusiastic early adopters of Vine – 17,494 followers at the time of writing. If my illuminating Casio wristwatch from Urban Outfitters has taught me anything, it pays to be both cool and clever. Combining product demonstrations with a witty and playful context (see Girls Gone Mild embed – left), UO projects a cool corporate culture while creating engaging content that sells shirts.

However, it’s not all catwalk and product shots. Curating content around popular and trending in-app hashtags, UO owes much of the accounts success and community growth to the copious amounts of humor and dog related videos that both humanize the brand and spotlight employees – I mean, who wouldn’t buy clothes from a brand that high-fives bulldogs?

General Electric

So, your brand or client doesn’t high-five bulldogs? Tough break, but don’t lose all hope just yet. General Electric, the 6th-largest firm in the US (by gross revenue), is probably amongst the bottom of the list of brands you most expect to be flexing their creative muscles on the platform.

Publishing clever and interactive stop-motion content around their popular Twitter hashtags, GE creatively engages with the Vine and Twitter community (see #IWantToInvent embed – left). GE also frequents a series of surprisingly cool garage-science How-To’s that appeal to pockets of users otherwise disengaged from the organizations day-to-day operations.

For brands and marketers, Vine presents an additional channel to contribute to the conversation without the expenses associated with traditional videography. Video length restrictions allow Vine videos to capture even the smallest of attention spans and forces brands to adopt a more clever and direct approach to messaging and storytelling.

As consumers, Vine can change our perception of brands and can shift the way we absorb information. Vine has the potential to alter the format in which we ingest news and in particular, breaking news; Turkish journalist @TulinDaloglu highlighted this when she successfully used Vine to document the aftermath of a U.S embassy bombing. Lest we forget, there’s always hours to be wasted looping Vinecats.

So, is Vine here to stay?

Short answer: yes.

With Vine topping the iOS free app charts in the U.S, the app’s imminent Android rollout and deeper integration with the Twitter platform, I have no qualms hailing Vine as the “next big thing” in short-form video content. As brands continue to express themselves creatively and experiment with content types, ask yourself, could my brand benefit from an early foothold on the platform?