Vine's 6 second clips are growing in popularity.

Since we highlighted Video-grams in our 100 Things to Watch list for 2012, social video sharing has taken a quantum leap. Triggered by Twitter’s January introduction of Vine, its video-sharing app, older players are adding features, and brands are exploring the potential. Vine allows users to view or share 6-second video loops (no editing allowed) that repeat ad infinitum. Cinemagram, founded a year ago, recently upgraded its app to permit users to import GIFs—a feature Vine lacks—and tag them. Socialcam boosted video quality, among other things; Telly added private video sharing; and Viddy (which is reportedly “struggling”) now enables the sharing of videos up to 30 seconds long.

Marketers have been glomming on to Vine with clips like this from General Electric, promoting National Inventors Day, and a few contests. In the U.S., Wheat Thins, Urban Outfitters and Red Vines candy are among those that have tried out Vine; in the U.K., the Birmingham Football Club and have shared clips. Steve Madden recently launched a more full-fledged Vine ad campaign, featuring clips from a group of New York photographers that showcase its spring shoe collection.

One difference between a photo-sharing tool like Instagram and social video is that “the bar for capturing and sharing video is inherently higher,” as a Mashable op-ed points out. Still, video naturally opens up new creative possibilities, and this year we’ll be watching to see how consumers, brands and artists stretch the potential of the platform.

Video credit: GE