By Sahil Patel
It’s no secret that, after YouTube, Vine is the social video service that everyone has its eye on. Relatively a baby in the world of video on the web, the service, which was launched by Twitter in June 2012, recently crossed 100 million active monthly users.
But the appeal of Vine isn’t only in the overall number of people who are using it. In a fashion strikingly similar to YouTube, the service is a home to a new breed of digital stars — artists who are amassing large and highly engaged fan-bases, six seconds at a time.
Unlike YouTube, though, Vine isn’t directly monetizable. There are no ads running in front of Vine videos, which means stars on the service have to resort to other methods if they want to leverage their audience to build a viable business.
Based on numerous industry people we’ve spoken to, a Vine star could make anywhere from $1,000 to $20,000 for a branded Vine video. It’s a pretty wide range, and certainly not a strict one — determined by factors such as number of followers, the level of engagement, and/or if the video is part of a larger campaign.
“The going rates for buying Vines are pretty impressive and constantly growing,” says Michael Fasciano, VP/director of social content at DigitasLBi. “I think compensation and market value is on the uptick.” For comparison, last year, an Ad Age article reported that the Vine-focused agency GrapeStory’s talent makes anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 per brand video.
So certainly, a top Vine creator could make money without leaving the micro-video platform. But certainly not at the level of other stars who have built a presence across the digital landscape.
“Vine in and of itself is a specialized platform,” says Fasciano. “People can spend days — if not weeks — planning out what the actual Vine is going to be. Perhaps more so than Instagram video, and certainly more than YouTube and vlogging, Vines really requires a more methodical pre-production process.” That could certainly eat away at the number of hours a star can devote to creating branded content, as well as their own regular, non-branded videos.
If you look at some of the top names on Vine, you’ll notice that the platform isn’t their only social outlet. The most-followed individual on the platform, Nash Grier, with 9.2 million followers, also has 3.24 million followers on Twitter, and 3.46 million subscribers on YouTube. Jerome Jarre, with his 7 million Vine fans, has 697,000 followers on Twitter and 754,000 subscribers on YouTube.
This can partially be attributed to a digital star’s creative drive. “I think that for talent in the modern world, yes you may consider yourself a Viner, but you are also doing a lot of other things than just Vining,” says Fasciano. Like any creative person, most Vine stars have ambitions that go beyond six seconds.
Musician Shawn Mendes, who found popularity on Vine by releasing six-second versions of cover songs, recently debuted his first album, which spiked to number one on iTunes in less than 40 minutes after its release.
Brittany Furlan, the leading lady of Vine with 7.1 million fans — who has scored brand deals with the likes of Trident, Reebok, and Universal — has 182,000 supporters on Twitter and 129,000 on YouTube. Her goal is to eventually be a movie star, and thanks in large part to the audience she has cultivated online, she recently booked an appearance in an upcoming Zac Efron movie.
“Every day, I become more and more impressed by the reach of it,” says Furlan. “That’s why these companies like Paramount, Universal, etc. are hiring me. That’s why all these brands are hiring me to promote things, because they see the power of [digital], they see how it reaches people.”
But the fact remains, while Vine can be a great creative outlet for budding digital stars, for many, it remains a gateway to something more — just like every other digital platform.
“I think it’s so important to be living on all these different environments and all these platforms,” adds Jonathan Skogmo, founder and CEO of Jukin Media, which works with Vine stars like Logan Paul and BatDad. “I’d say the same thing about a YouTube personality.”
So, the question again, can you build a business in six seconds? Short answer: Yes, because it’s just the beginning.